Michael Marder has something to say. Listen.
Teachers have been screaming it at the top of their lungs. "IT'S THE POVERTY!"
No one listens.
In These Times writer, Roger Bybee, said it like this: "It's the poverty, stupid.":
Poverty and unemployment contribute to a high rate of transience among students, as their families move from apartment to apartment in search of lower rents or better living arrangements.
Poverty doesn’t affect just attendance. Milwaukee children suffer from one of the highest rates of childhood lead poisoning, which can cause learning disabilities and severe behavioral problems. In one African-American neighborhood, 67 percent of the children age six or under had elevated lead levels. In a primarily Latino area, the rate was 43 percent. On top of that, in the last 30 years Milwaukee has lost 80 percent of its industrial base and nine of its 10 hospitals. In 2006, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, “An African-American infant in Milwaukee is at a greater risk of dying in his or her first year than an infant in Malaysia, Jamaica, Panama, Costa Rica or Chile.”
No one listens.
Will they listen when Michael P. Marder, Professor of Physics, University of Texas at Austin says it? As you view the three short videos below, pay attention to the horizontal axis on each graph mutates. While it isn't a surprise, it's fascinating to see in graphic form what so many educators already know. It's the poverty. The Texas Tribune interviews:
Part I SAT and poverty.
Part II How do charter schools perform?
Part III What Are We Going to Do about It?
Marder's work makes one thing perfectly clear -- the close attention, even obsession, with teacher performance distracts from socio-economic obstacles to education. All those billions spent by the Billionaire Boys led by Bill Gates and Eli Broad, on testing and teacher evaluation, would be much better spent on alleviating childhood poverty. Are you listening Bill? Eli? Arne? Mr. President?
Is anyone listening?