As promised, a task force associated with the Economic Policy Institute has released a framework for improving education. Here are the highlights from the press release:
1. Continued school improvement efforts. To close achievement gaps, we need to reduce class sizes in early grades for disadvantaged children; attract high-quality teachers in hard-to-staff schools; improve teacher and school leadership training; make college preparatory curriculum accessible to all; and pay special attention to recent immigrants.
2. Developmentally appropriate and high-quality early childhood, pre-school and kindergarten care and education. These programs must not only help low-income children academically, but provide support in developing appropriate social, economic and behavioral skills.
3. Routine pediatric, dental, hearing and vision care for all infants, toddlers and schoolchildren. In particular, full-service school clinics can fill the health gaps created by the absence of primary care physicians in low-income areas, and by poor parents’ inability to miss work for children’s routine health services.
4. Improving the quality of students’ out-of-school time. Low-income students learn rapidly in school, but often lose ground after school and during summers. Policymakers should increase investments in areas such as longer school days, after-school and summer programs, and school-to-work programs with demonstrated track records.
It reminds me of the video from the Educator Roundtable, in this post and this write up by eduwonkette of an American Education Research Association session, “Research on Neighborhoods and Communities: Implications for Research Methods on Social Contexts.”
It should go without saying that the this expansive view of inequality and education and what should be done about it is not “throwing in the towel,” making excuses for schools or conceding that inequality of educational outcomes is intractable (unlike the genetic determinists on the right). The broader, bolder approach realistically recognizes that educational inequality begins with childrens’ environment, living conditions and resources and seeks to address these inside and outside of school. Makes sense to me.
Become a co-signer to the statement. Work locally to make these things happen.
Thomas J. Mertz
BTW, this is post #300 on AMPS!