This fall, schools across the country will administer the new Common Core-aligned assessments. Despite all of the years of toiling and buzz around these new tests, an Education Week analysis finds that only 42 percent of public school students will likely take the test. (Nearly three out of five students are in states that have chosen other tests or haven’t decided yet.) Given the effort by education reformers to promote and advocate for standards, this is unexpectedly low. So what happened?
Inspired by recent local school enrollment proposals that would change the way students access the D.C. public school system, this installment of Field Day looks at the merits of choice vs. neighborhood school models. We asked our contributors:
In light of recent policy proposals in the District, what is the value of the geographic-based (neighborhood) school enrollment model, and has this model’s benefits been eclipsed by the alternatives that open-enrollment (school choice) models offer families?
Their responses are fascinating — ranging from support of neighborhood schools to criticism of choice models overly simple in nature. Join the conversation: You’re seated at the Field Day blog roundtable.
In my dreams, I still live in a farmhouse on a wooded island in Puget Sound with the skyline of the Olympic Mountains of Washington state in the background. In reality, I find myself with a wife and two kids in a Washington, D.C., rowhouse. Why do I live in one Washington and not the other? I realized a long time ago that despite my attachment to the beauty of Washington’s far-northwest Olympic Peninsula, I could not limit myself to the education and jobs available there. And neither should other rural kids.
Rural America has economies based on industries like farming, fishing, mining, and logging. These jobs once required significant amounts of labor and are either declining or nonexistent job sources today. The hard truth is that there are very few reasons for people to build 21st-century jobs, like electronics manufacturing, in rural areas because they are remote and lack flexible infrastructure, investment, and tax bases. As in other rural areas, older workers with experience logging or working in pulp mills where I grew up have skills not easily transferable to other more modern jobs.
Working to improve the economies of these corners of the country is a worthwhile goal. But for the sake of rural children, we should never assume that rural redevelopment efforts will bring large-scale employment and should drive education policies, as Matt Richmond argued on this blog last week. The realistic assumption for the large bulk of the children in these areas should, instead, be that economic opportunities are better found elsewhere, and our education policies should follow.
“Teacher didn’t care, principal didn’t care… I told my counselor and a couple teachers, but I didn’t want to because they didn’t care…you know from the way they come at me on a regular basis… they don’t try to talk to me.” – Antonio, a student interviewed in Don’t Call Them Dropouts by GradNation
Teachers, think about your most challenging student, your most disengaged student, or the student you just don’t know much about. Now, invite that student to your classroom for lunch and a game of Uno, listen without judgment, and let a relationship grow — because that relationship can mean the difference between graduate and a non-graduate.
Why do we bother sending kids to school?
To get a job?
Be good citizens?
Because … just because! Stop questioning the obvious!(?)
Getting a job and supporting oneself is probably a minimum — at least to our modern conceptualization of education’s purpose. That’s why we need the Common Core, high-rigor curricula, and standardized tests to make sure that kids can compete in the global theatre!
Which is all well and good, but who are we kidding? Are poor, white kids in rural Missouri on the “global stage”? Are Native American students in poverty-ridden South Dakota competing against Indian engineers to build the next iPhone (or even their Foxcomm counterparts)? Fourteen million people in the U.S. don’t even have access to broadband internet (43 percent of households making less than $15,000 a year don’t have ready access to any internet). The global stage is too busy posting gluten-free recipes on Instagram to even notice broad swaths of rural Kentucky.
When a child’s behavior disrupts the classroom or instruction, a sometimes-overused reaction is to send the student home with a suspension. The child’s peers can get back to learning in a non-disruptive environment, and the offender can take schoolwork home to do independently. But it’s not as simple as that. What teachers and administrators may not realize is that this temporary reprieve can actually further exacerbate the problem and alienate at-risk children, putting them at a higher risk of dropping out later.
YEP-DC is a nonpartisan group of education professionals who work in research, policy, and practice – and even outside of education. The views expressed here are only those of the attributed author, not YEP-DC. This blog aims to provide a forum for our group’s varied opinions. It also serves as an opportunity for many more professionals in DC and beyond to participate in the ongoing education conversation. We hope you chime in, but we ask that you do so in a considerate, respectful manner. We reserve the right to modify or delete any content or comments. For any more information or for an opportunity to blog, contact us via one of the methods below.
MONICA GRAY is co-founder & president of DreamWakers, an edtech nonprofit. She writes on education innovation and poverty.