From Robb Brewer:
From Robb Brewer:
While Head Start has made some progress, the federally funded program “continues to lack clear, comprehensive goals for program performance,” writes Sara Mead in Renewing Head Start’s Promise: Invest in What Works for Disadvantaged Preschoolers.
While Mead believes Head Start can improve, her report is a devastating critique, writes Checker Finn on Gadfly.
Finn also takes on the idea that funding preschool education in poor countries should be a top United Nations priority. It “costs little and has lifelong benefits by getting children started on learning,” argues Matt Ridley in Smart Aid for the World’s Poor.
. . . the right kind of preschool program can give a needed leg up to kids who aren’t getting such preparation at home.
But—and it’s a huge but—it’s only preparation for further education. The further education has to be waiting, and it has to be good education that takes advantage of what was accomplished in preschool.
In the U.S., which has universal elementary education and compulsory school attendance, “whatever boost was provided by preschool fades to the vanishing point during the early grades because the schools themselves fail to sustain it.”
In the Third World . . .
José Luis Vilson, a middle-school math teacher in New York City (and a blogger), writes about race, class, and education in This Is Not A Test.
“The heart of education lies in the relationship between teacher and student,” writes Leo Casey in a review in Dissent. “This Is Not A Test bears witness to the enduring vitality of that relationship.”
Vilson grew up in a poor “drug-tainted” neighborhood in the city, earned a computer science degree and became a math teacher for black and brown students.
He faces the challenges of his students’ poverty, troubled families and violent neighborhoods. He also copes with incompetent administrators. At one point, a supervisor “threatened him with an unsatisfactory evaluation not because of his teaching, but because she disliked the aesthetics of his classroom bulletin board.”
One girl wrote a personal essay about “sharing one room with three siblings, living in a two-bedroom apartment with seven people. Hearing and seeing fights, gunshots all night, yelling and screaming every day.”
Her mother’s attempted suicide forced Chiquita to ignore her own needs. “All that year, I was so focused on my mother, I forgot how to be a kid, I forgot about Chiquita, how the simplest things in life make me smile.”
Many students resisted writing about painful memories. “Why would anyone be interested in this?” some said, or “I don’t want people feeling sorry for me.” For most students, maintaining their poise meant blocking out the images that reminded them of their vulnerability.
Angelica Moore, a high-achieving and charismatic student, revealed that her self-possession was “all a front” for her insecurity. “I was always told since I was younger not to show my weakness because people will take advantage of it. It’s better to walk around with my head high and make it seem like I have it together.”
Getting into college isn’t the challenge for these students. It’s succeeding once they get there.
Low-income mothers in Tulsa are encouraged to send their children to Head Start — and train for better jobs, reports NPR’s Eric Westervelt.
WESTERVELT: Two dozen students, all women, settle into long white tables and stiff metal chairs in a classroom at Tulsa Community College’s downtown campus. . . . It’s a required monthly seminar for the program Career Advance. Topics include resume building and basic finances. This week: Workplace Etiquette 101. Be on time, eye contact, firm handshake, basic hygiene.
Career Advance, run by the nonprofit Community Action Project of Tulsa or CAP, links low-income parents with education, career training in health care fields.
Consuela Houessou came to Tulsa from Benin about a decade ago. She works weekends as a nurse’s assistant, but hopes to become a registered nurse. She compares her grades with her children. “I get A’s today, what did you get?”
Helping parents helps children, says Steven Dow, CAP Tulsa’s executive director.
WESTERVELT: It’s heading for 8:30 a.m. at a bustling headstart center in East Tulsa and 32-year-old Tiffany Contreras is late to drop off her 4-year-old daughter. The on-time kids play with blocks, puzzles and books on the carpet while a teacher prepares a cereal breakfast.
8:45, still no Tiffany Contreras. Her daily juggle is on – four kids, a commute, classes, homework and meetings. Her husband, the father of her two youngest, works the night shift coating gas pipes and airplane parts at an industrial paint shop. 8:50, she finally arrives. Adding to Tiffany’s hectic mix this week, a dinner gone wrong nearly torched her kitchen.
TIFFANY CONTRERAS: A pan of grease caught on fire. It ruined my stove a couple of my cabinets. Thankfully, no one was hurt. The story of my life. Always something.
Many women in Career Advance go from one crisis to another, says staffer Megan Oehlke. “It’s my car died. I had a house fire. We had an unexpected stabbing in our family last week. My mom is hospitalized. She does all my child care. It’s all of those things together that they’re trying to figure out how to finagle, and still be successful in school.”
In Watts, there’s lots of support for teen mothers, but very little help for college students who’ve avoided pregnancy, writes a young community college student. She lives with her ailing grandmother in a subsidized apartment. If the grandmother dies, the childless student will be evicted.
It’s 2014: All students will be proficient in reading and math, Mike Petrilli reminds us. It’s the law!
Each State shall establish a timeline for adequate yearly progress. The timeline shall ensure that not later than 12 years after the end of the 2001–2002 school year, all students in each group described in subparagraph (C)(v) will meet or exceed the State’s proficient level of academic achievement.
– No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, section 1111(2)(F)
The next time someone talks about all students being college and career ready, a highly effective teacher in every classroom or eradicating childhood poverty, remember “universal proficiency by 2014,” Petrilli suggests.
The No Child Left Behind generation — today’s 11th graders started school after the law passed — are doing better he writes.
NCLB kids were fourth graders in 2007:
Reading scores for the lowest-performing students and for black and Hispanic students all shot up four points (almost half a grade) over 2002’s baseline and math scores went up a whopping five points for all students, for white students, and for Hispanic students over a 2003 baseline, and black scores rocketed an incredible six points.
And in 2011, as eighth graders:
Reading scores for the lowest-performing students and for black students shot up four points over 2007’s baseline, while Hispanic students gained five points, and math scores were up three points over 2007, with Hispanic students gaining five points.
Yet just a third of the NCLB Generation had become proficient readers by the eighth grade. For Blacks and Hispanics, it was 15 and 19 percent, respectively. The results for mathematics were just a few points higher.
Still, these incremental gains add up to about half a year of extra learning, on average, writes Petrilli. That’s not enough, but it’s something.
Next time around, the goals should be high but achievable, writes Petrilli. For example, in the next six years, let’s try to get the national average to the level already achieved by Massachusetts students.
Education Week looks at Education in Indian Country, specifically the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home to the Oglala Lakota Nation. Alcoholism is common. Even those who finish high school find few jobs on the reservation.
In California’s San Bernardino Mountains, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians is spending millions of casino revenue to build and run a K-9 school with small classes and up-to-date technology.
Twice a week, tribal elders teach native languages through traditional “bird songs,” which “tell stories, often from the perspectives of birds, of journeys that the Cahuilla people would take from their desert and mountain homes and about the creation of the natural world.”
Each tribe member gets a share of casino profits. (Adults must earn a high school diploma or GED to qualify.) Nobody is poor. The tribe hopes to reverse ” decades of low academic achievement, high dropout rates, and low rates of college attendance and graduation for its children.”