kitchen table math, the sequel: Education Equality Project

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Education Equality Project

I left a comment on the Education Equality Project blog this morning. I didn't think to keep a copy, but the point of the post was that we need to eliminate mediocre NSF math programs if we ever hope to move this country forward in math and science education. These programs create inequities because students are not taught real math at school. It's wrong, in my opinion, to think that some students need an inferior math curriculum.

The comment appeared for a while, but then it was removed. In fact, NO comments have been keepers yet!

If you give it a try, please save it to copy as a comment here.


Catherine Johnson said...

I just left this comment:

Good to see this!

I hope you'll give some attention to the critical need for schools to adopt effective, field-tested curricula. Even the most brilliant teacher is hobbled by "constructivist" curricula that require students to "construct knowledge" and "make meaning" instead of acquiring knowledge incrementally by starting small and building up.

Students must commit knowledge to long-term memory in order to use it, to understand it, and to "think critically" about it. That is a given. But ed schools today disdain all forms of memory work and produce teachers and administrators who believe that the goal of education is "understanding" (or Essential Understandings as my own district has it) instead of knowing.

The universal adoption of constructivist training & curricula is directly related to educational equity.

My own district spends $27K per pupil. Teachers are "guides on the side" and curricula - to the extent we have curricula beyond Google - require students to "look for a pattern."

At home, parents reteach content and hire tutors. There is a huge tutoring industry here as everywhere in affluent suburbs; one of the tutors working in town estimates that half of all kids in Scarsdale are tutored. I believe it. When we applied to private schools last year one of the young admissions directors told us that she herself had been a Scarsdale tutor. Scarsdale, she said, maintained a long roster of tutors to whom they referred parents.

If you want to know why low-income students don't fare well in the "leafy suburbs," ask yourself how well a disadvantaged child fares in a school where teachers are guides on the side and the curriculum is "look for a pattern."

Many parents today are doing the teaching or they are hiring tutors to do so.

Where does that leave a student whose parent doesn't have the wherewithal to do either?

Constructivist curricula are terrible for everyone but they're worse for children whose parents can't remediate the school.

The gap gets wider.

SteveH said...

Did you post on the blog, or somewhere else?

concerned said...

I posted on the blog.

Anonymous said...

That's an interesting website. It makes me, as a person whose ancestors are from rural poverty, sad to see that just certain ethnicities rather than all resource-poor children are included in the probability of falling through the public school education cracks (statement of principles #1)). I hope the choice was from lack of data rather than racism.

I'm also sad to see that the parent component to school success is not included in the principles.
As a military brat, I went to Dept of Defense schools prior to high school. They work for the poor because - unlike my district's public schools - attendance and respect are required; drugs, crime, violence, sex & alcohol aren't daily components of life in the school bldgs; and teachers are responsible to see that children learn. I'd like to see these major components as part of the public school solution, but I notice not one was included in the "Principles". Safe schools, a respectful learning environment, teacher accountability, and attendance are critical to success.

I'll be writing in my opinion as soon as I get some facts so I can contrast acheivement at a few districts that would prove my point. ALL children deserve the resources needed to close those cracks in the elementary foundation, not just minorities, not just ESL, and not just those in inner city poverty. Let us not leave Appalachian type of pockets of poverty all over the country in our haste at providing 'equity'.

Anonymous said...

Hello all: The new Education Equality Project (EEP) website was experiencing some hiccoughs relating to posting blog comments in its first days of operation. The problems have been fixed and all comments are visible.

Many thanks for your interest in EEP’s work. Please sign up to become a supporter and receive frequent updates from EEP!

Thanks – Team EEP

concerned said...

A few comments made it through!!