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Friday, April 22, 2011

Thoughts......Achievement Gap

A passion of mine is education. I am a parent and individual who understands that the educational foundation that is laid for our children should be a foundation that promotes a pipeline to success. The achievement gap in the MPLS public schools is the widest in the country between white and non white students, meaning our children of color are farther behind than their white counterparts here in MN than any other state in the US. Not ok. Our public schools are wonderful places that many of us have been educated through as well as our families. Many of us are connected to a public school in some way. Schools are places where our children gain knowledge and is part of building the pathways for their futures. With the many dedicated professionals and education curriculum currently in place, there still is a wide achievement gap and I believe though challenging, we can decrease this gap. One of the ways this can be done is by building on the positive things that work within schools and communities as well as add new and creative pieces that enhance the learning and support so everyone is successful. Funding continues to be cut but working together, dedicated to our children, we can make our schools more successful.

I believe one of the solutions to closing this gap is dedication and stability. 

Families and caregivers are the most important piece of children's success. Being involved in every piece of your child's education process is extremely important and includes having a relationship with your students teachers and school.

Having a school with great leadership, stable teachers and support staff that are enthusiastic and are committed to the children, families and neighborhoods they are located in and demonstrates this daily by working at a school for the long haul, is a piece to this puzzle. This shows students and families that they are committed to them and this can build trust between students, families, neighborhoods and the school. This allows relationships to be built and opens communication. When communication happens, change can be  made. When this happens everyone benefits. 

Housing stability plays another key role in students success.  There are many challenges as to why stable housing is an issue for many. Families that are able to live in a place that allows them to keep their kids in the same school long term benefits the kids, family and helps students be successful. When a student enters and exits different schools throughout the year or from year to year, it breaks the consistency. Each classroom and schools are at different places in their curriculum, activities, supports and teaching styles, not to mention peer relationships, which can be confusing to students, which brings many students needs not to be met.  Trust is not able to be built as strongly because relationships are not formed for the long term. This adds to the decrease in achievement success. 

A school that is dedicated to excellent education for students and allows teachers to teach and gives our kids the best education focused hours each day, lead by dedicated, knowledgeable and excellent leadership is essential to our kids success. A knowledgeable and excellent support staff of EBD personal, social workers, psychologists, special education teachers, parent liasons, volunteers, parents etc... understands that students are members of a family outside of school and building strong relationships with students and their families helps build success for each student.  Relationships need to be built so each child can have their unique needs met. There are many things that affect children outside of school and are brought with the children to school. The more consistent and stable a school is, the better hand they can extend to families and enahance the ability to support the children. If support staff have resources available for families such as housing resources, basic needs etc.. and have them available to families shows students, families and communities dedication, that each person is important, each student and family is wanted here and is valuable.

 Working together to keep our kids in the same schools with the same staff who are dedicated to a pathway of success I believe can begin to address the achievement gap. If the same beautiful and bright students attend the same school where they see the same teachers and staff and the families see the consistency and dedication, this  can build respect between families and schools. If this is grown and shown, communication can be developed and change can happen. 

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