Monday, September 10, 2012

poverty... not an excuse, but clearly a cause...


In a recent editorial, Michelle Rhee, a controversial spokesman for education reform, admitted that poverty is one of the primary causes of poor school performance, but she insists that it not be offered an excuse for continuing failure in schools.

OK, nice rhetoric, Rhee. But the difficult thing is that we've demanded that teachers be all things, most of which have very little to do with teaching... counselor, disciplinarian, child advocate, parental coach and emergency resource of last resort as children fall through mile wide cracks in the shredded social safety net "conservatives" in congress have allowed to exist.

I had a chance to visit with my sister Mary while at my niece's wedding over the weekend. Mary teaches in a middle school, 7th and 8th grades in reading, computer use, and a wide range of subjects related to literacy. Most of her students come from difficult circumstances. Many suffer from low self-esteem, and many have learned not to expect much of themselves. Add to Mary's job list that of social worker and you get the idea. Yes, poverty should not be used as an excuse, but what excuses can we offer for our failure to give teachers and schools full access to the resources they need to put our students on equal footing for success? Is it reasonable to expect teachers to carry the full weight of alleviating poverty in America? Or can we get back to the basics principles of social justice and allow the government to help end poverty and allow teachers to teach?

It is my theory that woodworking in schools can help all schools, whether best or worst or between overcome the enthusiasm gap that leaves children inattentive even when they are in attendance.

Today in the CSS wood shop, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students finished their garbage cans and the high school students worked on computer stands, a sign for the office and planing the stump. As you can see in the photo, the upper elementary students added handles to their garbage cans so they could pretend they were also mugs.

make, fix and create...

1 comment:

Mario Núñez said...

I retired from teaching at just the right point, it seems. Even the community colleges, which were started to teach vocational and technical skills, have fallen into the testing trap, and are doing away with the areas that were their core.

Mario