In Poor Schools or Poor Kids? on Education Next, Joe Williams of Democrats for Education Reform speaks for the Education Equality Project (accountability, pay reform, choice) while Pedro Noguera gives the Broader, Bolder perspective (preschool, health care, nutrition, parent training) on improving K–12 schooling.
Noguera: There are schools across the country—some are charter, some are private, and many are traditional public—that have shown us that it is possible for poor children to achieve at high levels when we respond to their needs and create conditions that are conducive to learning. . . . Many, though not all, schools that succeed with poor children devise strategies to mitigate the effects of poverty with site-based social services and extended learning opportunities. . . .
Williams: While we are very sympathetic to the obstacles that impoverished children face to their physical, emotional, and educational development, and support policies to address these deficiencies, we believe that when conditions outside of the classroom are less than stellar, it is even more important that we get the schooling piece right.
I side with Williams on this argument. Schools facing huge challenges need to keep their eyes (and resources) on the ball, which is academic achievement.
Noguera calls for creating education inspectors to evaluate schools based on qualitative measures as well as test scores; inspectors would provide detailed recommendations for improvement.
Curriculum is mentioned only once in the discussion, notes Core Knowledge Blog, which headlines its post, Blather, Rinse, Repeat.