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View Diary: Why the Achievement Gap Matters and Will Remain (147 comments)

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  •  It is not that simple. (1+ / 0-)
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    CitizenX: "If the republicans were in charge GM & Chrysler would be dead and Osama bin Laden would be alive."

    by TomP on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 10:26:20 AM PDT

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    •  Not that simple, but (1+ / 0-)
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      neither is it the simplistic analysis on offer here. As SingleVoter points out, poverty is not an historical predictor of academic achievement. But it is no longer widely acceptable to ask whether there is something about the "culture" of various of today's poor that militates against taking advantage of the state-provided educational system. In other words, maybe there is something lacking other than money.

      So far, I'm absolutely unimpressed by the thesis that "the achievement gap is primarily a reflection of the equity gap that exists in the lives of children." And this is a fortiori true in a country in which few children are actually living in utter destitution. And that reflection engenders the even more unfortunate conclusion that it isn't actually bare need that stands in the way, but a kind of envy for those better off that prevents those worse off from helping themselves. It also leads to the equally unfortunate conclusion that, if we are going to have to await the closure of the "equity gap" in order for there to be improvement in educational achievement, we are going to be waiting a very long time indeed, if not forever.

      •  evidence (1+ / 0-)
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        I am not making some cavalier claim; the fact is that student outcomes are overwhelmingly correlated with out-of-school factors:

        And go to College Board, download every single year of the SAT—strongest correlation to scores is home conditions of the students (parental income, parental level of education)

        •  Yes (3+ / 0-)
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          ManhattanMan, debedb, Linda Wood

          but again, this not historically true of all populations. So all you need to do now is to explain why neither absolute poverty nor relative equity applies in those cases. Correlation, as you well know, is not causation and is almost always in need of a good deal of explanation. Both this society and, historically, others elsewhere have done better: why?

          •  Oral cultures vs. literate cultures (3+ / 0-)
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            Pete Rock, congenitalefty, debedb

            The Jews and the Chinese both came from cultures where the literate and learned were the most respected members of the community; no matter how poor you were, that was what you aspired to. It's also important to note that even though education was held in very high esteem, not every child who grew up in those cultures actually did overcome the disadvantages of poverty. They just managed to do so at a relatively higher rate, because they constantly received the message that doing so would win them respect and approval.

            Not every culture values literacy and learning to the same degree. In a culture where, for example, physical strength and courage are what win you respect, as in the honor cultures of Latin America and the American South (among both whites and blacks), and where "book-learning" is not held in particularly high esteem, you're not going to see a majority of kids who are determined to overcome their circumstances and get that golden diploma. Instead, you're going to see them defecting from the educational system and looking for respect and approval in other arenas.

            It's interesting to note that among all the immigrant groups that came to America, those from honor cultures (Ireland, Italy, the Balkans) got stuck with the reputation of being brutes and troublemakers, and even today their surnames are stereotypically associated with blue-collar work; while those from other countries (Germany, Scandinavia) largely escaped that stigma.

            "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

            by Geenius at Wrok on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 06:20:39 PM PDT

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            •  Before the Gringos' ancestors landed at Plymouth, (4+ / 0-)
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              Renee M, elfling, debedb, Linda Wood

              Mexico had a university.

              Ireland had monks creating illuminated manuscripts while the illiterate English were living in caves.

              More streets are named after poets in Latin America than in the US.

              •  Seriously... (3+ / 0-)
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                Utahrd, debedb, Linda Wood

                Anyone who thinks Latinos don't hold learning in high esteem is maleducado.

              •  The best music always comes from the downtrodden (0+ / 0-)

                and yet most of the downtrodden do not become musicians -- or poets or philosophers -- because they're preoccupied with day-to-day survival. And the crueler the oppression, the more likely that day-to-day survival depends on winning a fight against someone as deprived as oneself.

                Chicago has plenty of public schools named in honor of celebrated writers, musicians and activists, inside which barely a fifth of the student body reads at grade level or cares to.

                "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

                by Geenius at Wrok on Mon Jun 27, 2011 at 06:15:27 AM PDT

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                •  Why would you assume (0+ / 0-)

                  that this (supposing that it is true that the students don't care to read which I doubt) means that an entire cultural group devalues reading?

                  I don't think you realize how off base your assumptions are, or how offensive they sound.

                  I know a lot of people who don't make a lot of money. Every single one of them would be offended by you calling them "downtrodden".

                  Sometimes life is hard. That doesn't mean that people with less are any less deserving of respect.

      •  25% of American kids live below the poverty line (3+ / 0-)
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        Bronx59, Amor Y Risa, congenitalefty

        I am not sure what your definition of "few" or "destitution" is, but in my mind, this statistic says that quite a lot of American kids are in fact living in utter destitution.

        What it means is that "teach harder" is probably not a good exhortation, and that instead, other and supplementary approaches are important for helping these kids get the education they need and deserve.

        For some kids, you can go with "Go home tonight and read for an hour." For a child who lives in a house that is infernally noisy and has no quiet space, that may not be sufficient. Providing a community afterschool program (which costs money) might be a way to address this particular problem, for example, even if that program might be superfluous in an upscale district.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 04:11:18 PM PDT

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      •  Yes. and you will wait a long time..... (1+ / 0-)
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        Linda Wood

        because only 15 to 40% of the "gap"' can be made up in the school and the disinterest and pushback on doing anything about the rest of the problem will trap most kids in the underclass status.

        In certain nationalities, cultures, education is highly valued, even more than building personal wealth. respect for cultural and educational achievement.

        America as a hungry, mercenary, and most obviously a young country barely 230 years old hasn't made that intellectual conceptual leap  as a nation yet. So the negatives and the greedsters rule here, and the opposition  to dumbing down is a minority current.

        In hard times the educational and cultural valuable things keep hope alive and prepare for better times.

        That was the 'old way'. now we get austerity and cuts cuts cuts, even from Democrats who kn ow better.

        handwringing, pessimism and defeatism.

        If the Dems keep that up, we won't make it to 250 years, let alone 300 or 1,000.]

        spending money. who knew that it takes a certain amount to run a modern First world educational system, regardless. private or public, it costs money.  And beyond that there is the world outside of school in the life of the youngsters that bears heavily on what and how well they learn.

        BTW, it is not just "bare need", but goals, models , mentoring and a realistic expectation of connecting with a successful satisfying vocation that can be the difference maker.  all things under attack in the corporate slimmed down, computer aided, depersonalized modern fashion of educating to a "test".
        Test to nowhere.  Pizza drivers and nursing home bedpan changers.  biggest careers in terms of job growth.   Why should educational achievement matter?

        Most jobs are simply not worth the excessive importance of a college education in today's will just be a big disappointment when reality of jobs and black holes(jobs are basically shrinking regardless of happy talk) and gaps are a permanent feature: achievement gaps, job expectations and job realities, etc etc etc.

        I am glad I don't have to teach  in this environment.

        Getting blamed for nearly everything wrong with the schools. Accused of "bankrupting the system" because the job pays for a pension and health care for one's family. Accused of a phantom evil, of low scores that supposedly will trap students in dead end jobs.  Facts are that trend is many years old, and good jobs are leaving the USA leaving qualified people taught well for many years unemployed, sometimes permanently.

        The rich have basically abandoned investing in America, both in industry and in the educational system.
        the cynicism is amazing.  It's catching too. You have to be careful to not become inactive and despondent when the real agenda of the rich becomes apparent.

        cast away illusions, prepare for struggle

        by Pete Rock on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 10:29:32 PM PDT

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