Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Real Achievement Gap

How many members of congress, senators, and governors send their children to private school and how many send their children to public school? Today's New York Times finally addresses this question and raises some serious issues regarding a national trend in which elected leaders making decisions on school reform have no stake in the outcome.

The widening disconnect between the two America's is becoming more and more obvious as children and teachers in private schools are free from the mandates imposed by No Child Left Behind. Instead of CLOSING the achievement gap, stories of white flight and teacher flight from failing public schools with large minority populations are starting to finally make the headlines and giving us a clearer picture of how NCLB is WIDENING the achievement gap. The flight to wealthier districts and private schools has put this country on a dangerous path towards increasing social inequality as the poor and struggling middle class are left behind along with their children.

Until people begin to recognize that providing an equal education is a constitutional right that was established over 50 years in Brown v. Board of Education, the politicians will continue to do nothing to deal with any real school reform. Changing the way schools are funded and taking the shackles off public school teachers who are bound and gagged with federally mandated testing standards, would be a good start. According to Linda Darling-Hammond, professor of education at Stanford University, the wealthiest US. public schools spend at least ten times more than the poorest schools ranging from over $30,000 per pupil at the wealthy schools to only $3,000 at the poorest. This is the source of the achievement gap, not test scores.

For those who don't live in a wealthy district in NYC or any other city, just try getting your kid into one of those elite nursery schools or private schools , you better run for office or you won't stand a chance -- the lines are getting longer.

Posted by Judy Rabin in Jim Horn's absence August 19 - 26, 2005.

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