Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Gap Here, A Gap There..

Much news is being heard about yesterday's Achievement Gap Summit in CA, but I like the points that Philip of the Education Policy Blog makes in his post about the many other "gaps" in our society that contribute to the achievement gap. This is the first time that I have seen these "gaps" listed out in a concise yet effective way.

I agree with Philip - I think most would - and I'll also add my two cents as a former teacher. In the schools where I taught in Philadelphia and DC, I saw the impact of these gaps each and every day. They affected what I taught and how I taught it, how I related to my students and how they related to me; overall, they were a huge influence in my classroom. I would imagine that many inner-city teachers experience the same.

Yet despite this fact, these "gaps" were never discussed in my teacher training. My traditional education classes didn't address the issue and neither did my inner-city specific TFA training. If these "gaps" were discussed at all, it was in the most cursory way; for example, I remember being told "Your students might be too poor to afford food, so keep some pretzels in your room." But did we discuss that issue any further? Unfortunately, we did not.

On a classroom level, our current and future teachers must be better prepared to understand these "gaps" and how our society's general ills will affect themselves and their students. On a societal level, I see a real need for partnerships between educators and people from other industries and institutions. Teachers, who deal with these gaps every day, must be heard on these issues and their ideas for change must be taken seriously.

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