Lori Sturdevant: Achievement gap -- a disaster in slow motion

  • Article by: LORI STURDEVANT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 17, 2011 - 4:00 PM

Like any disaster, it will require a community response -- one the U's new president could lead.

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commiefalconDec. 17, 11 5:06 PM

What's your solution Lori? Like most DFL'ers, I'm sure it is just throw more money at it. You do know that more money is spent per student in the mpls school district than anywhere else in the state? Why don't you break down exactly where and with who the achievement gap is? Between whites and blacks? Seems to me Asians (Japanese, Korean, Chinese) students do just fine.

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concernedduhDec. 17, 11 5:22 PM

The concept of achievement gap doesn't fit in our current teaching model. There are no winners or losers, everyone a winner, why would anyone try to achieve more that that? Schools skip over important subjects that liberals don't find appealing and teach others that they believe are politically correct, but add no real value to education. My children are doing great, but they are fully aware that their teachers have a political agenda and are curious enough to question what they hear and then seek out the additional details in search of truths. They are much younger than the OWS protectors, but know more about commerce, government and politics, than any I've seen interviewed. If you are teaching biased half truths, and leaving out critical information, how do you expect anyone to attain a whole education? Even Kindergartners don't believe there are no winners or losers, just ask them? Why would any student believe anything a teachers says, when one of the first things they teach is a lie and all the kids know it?

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lordhawhaw1Dec. 17, 11 5:42 PM

I advise you to all put on your protective headgear. Liberals, it would appear, are trying once again to problem solve without asking all those sticky politically incorrect questions. Wonder why liberals never do a study on the level of parental involvement in their own childrens education for asians, hispanics, whites and blacks of all income levels. My guess is because liberals do not want to know the real truth because personal responsibility is not in their lexicon.

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spicebearDec. 17, 11 8:42 PM

I wonder if anything will change until we have the will to add a coercive element: "If you won't or can't properly raise your kid to be school ready we will step in and MAKE you." When I hear that, I will know we are serious. Sturdevant isn't wrong, the IS a racial disparity but there is a lot we don't know. For example, if you consider just income, or single-parent families do you see a similar issue? Is this more a socio-economic problem than a racial one? As for a solution, the effort she is describing is not just focused on "what the school needs to do" (for once). It does mention outside agencies working with families on "kindergarten readiness."

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nowilffareDec. 17, 11 9:02 PM

No matter how you slice it there is a problem with the public schools and the teachers union is the biggest obstacle standing in the way of correcting the problem. Stop treating teachers like industrial era assembly line workers and start treating them like professionals.

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clnorthDec. 17, 11 9:14 PM

"Like any disaster, it will require a community response " We have already tried that. It actually just requires an involved parents repsonse. It isn't rocket science.

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mspminnDec. 17, 11 9:26 PM

Partisan commenters might note that this commentary suggests over-simplistic ideology of all stripes has been part of the problem: "Others thought 15 years ago that...all that was needed to bridge the gap was one ideologically tinged remedy. More charter schools! Pay teachers more! No, bust teachers' unions!"

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mspminnDec. 17, 11 9:49 PM

Partisan commenters might note that this commentary suggests over-simplistic ideology of all stripes has been part of the problem: "Others thought 15 years ago that...all that was needed to bridge the gap was one ideologically tinged remedy. More charter schools! Pay teachers more! No, bust teachers' unions!"

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spicebearDec. 17, 1110:24 PM

@ " It actually just requires an involved parents repsonse. It isn't rocket science." Involved parents who send their kids to school ready, stress the importance of schooling and make it stick is indeed the answer. BUT, parents who work 2 jobs, aren't well-educated themselves, live in chaotic communities... Parents who don't KNOW how to make their kids ready... Can't be real involved, now can they? We need all students to attain a higher level of schooling than we did in the past. In my mind this calls for help from the community AND an expectation with teeth, with coercion if necessary, that ALL parents have a responsibility to do their part. Unless we have a way to MAKE parents do it, we will not make much headway.

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mdachsDec. 17, 1110:46 PM

One solution - put the best teachers in these schools! Oh, but wait, the teachers' union opposes performance evaluations of teachers, because they might be "unfair or biased" Of course, employees in private industry generally have performance evaluations - and, with some exceptions, most evaluations are done reasonably well. Maybe pay the teachers in these underperforming schools more? But would the teachers' union agree to that? Probably not. And, of course, the teachers' union does not agree to paying the best teachers more, because it does not support performance evaluations.

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