This year’s Broad Prize for Urban Education, which includes $1 million in scholarships, goes to Brownsville, Texas schools, which educate some of the poorest children in the U.S. without succumbing to the pobrecito mentality. (Oh, those poor, unfortunates.) From U.S. News:
(Superintendent Hector) Gonzales sat in his modest office and explained his district’s credo: “Success is not an accident.” “We believe that every child can learn,” he says. “It’s not that every child can learn except Juanito.”
Nearly all students come from low-income Hispanic families, yet elementary school scores are as good or better than the Texas average; middle and high school scores are equal or slightly lower.
Every year, new students arrive from Mexico, some with nothing but the clothes on their back. Most can’t read or write fluently in either English or Spanish. Yet, 80 percent of Brownsville’s students become proficient in English by the end of third grade. In fourth grade, most of them are taught primarily in English. At the district’s five regular high schools, participation and scores on the SAT and Advanced Placement tests have risen steadily.
Teachers use data to determine who needs extra help; the longer school day makes it possible to provide tutoring, as well as music and chess programs. Brownsville also offers classes to parents.
Update: Eduwonkette’s Skoolboy writes about Brownsville’s poverty. Half the adults have less than a high school education. His wife grew up there and taught in Brownsville schools.