I got to thinking yesterday (you all know what happens when I do that): I believe the Education field wins the prize for the creating the most overused catchphrases; we are also guilty because they seem to get recycled every few years. Remove all the lingo and labels, but a few things remain the same:
1. ‘Economically disadvantaged,’ or poor kids, know they are poor; they do not need ‘experts’ on everything but poverty to tell them of their plight. Trust me on this one. It is what it is. Can we stop wasting money to pay eggheads to research who is poor, what it means, and how it affects education? Also, being poor is not a life sentence and does not have to dictate how far someone can and will go in life.
2. A lot of minority kids, e.g., Blacks and Latinos/Hispanics, are poor. See #1.
3. There is this thing called the ‘achievement gap’ which basically means that Black and Latino/Hispanic kids are not learning as much (or at the same rate) as non-minority (White and Asian) students, who happen to not be ‘economically disadvantaged.’ Sure, I could have said poor, but I am trying to make a point here. This is not a new issue. *See Brown v. Board of Education (1954). As the saying goes, ‘History is bound to repeat itself.’ Can you imagine how little dialogue we would have about the achievement gap if the federal government actually monitored the Desegregation Order of 1980.
4. Kids, regardless of race or socio-economic status, who are born into single parent homes know that. Again, See #1. They go home everyday to a mom or dad, or even a grandparent who is their sole parent/role-model. They do not need to be reminded. They do not need to be studied. Let’s stop talking about the impact and start doing something. Oh wait, that makes too much sense. How about this: The next time you (or a colleague) fix your lips to say ‘We have too many kids being born to single mothers, blah blah blah,’ ask yourself how many of those kids have ever worn trench coats into schools and killed innocent classmates. But I digress. Kids from two-parent homes are dysfunctional too, but no one has the audacity to question the parenting skills of a married couple, happily or otherwise.
5. Despite the rhetoric, parents from low-income, minority backgrounds, as well as single parents, do care about education. If you can show me one parent who wants their kids to live in cyclical poverty, I will retract my statement. Somewhere along the way there was a breakdown in the relationship between home and school. Too many parents feel alienated by the ‘school’ – the structure; or, they have been made to feel inferior by school staff. This is what I have been told by parents who never attended IEP meetings or Parent-Teacher conferences. How do I know? That’s simple: I picked-up the phone and called them to ask why they had never attended a meeting. If educators make the first move, you would be surprised at how parents respond.
It’s time to stop labelling/labeling and placing blame. We know what’s wrong with Education; we are wasting valuable time and human resources by perpetuating the same dialogue.