Monday, February 2, 2015

Two Schools, Different Realities

I'm having an unusually busy day, so all I've got for today is this recent article from the Star Tribune, which gives the kind of perspective it seems I almost never see on what it's like to be a teacher. And how the economic base of the students is key to student outcomes.

Parent involvement is key, it seems, but what makes parent involvement possible? Stable lives and housing, which are directly related to stable, adequate incomes.

Nearly every student at Bethune Community School lives in poverty. At least a quarter are homeless or at risk of losing their housing. Test scores are among the worst in Minneapolis, with only a tiny fraction of students performing at grade level.

Across town at Hiawatha Community School, outbursts and unruly behavior are rarely a problem. Classroom activities are often filled with parents. Students often score higher on their standardized tests than most schools in the district.

Bethune and Hiawatha embody the divide that has gripped Minneapolis schools for decades as leaders grapple with one of the worst achievement gaps in the country.

In November, a Star Tribune analysis found that teachers at Hiawatha had the highest evaluation scores in the district, while Bethune had the lowest. 
It's a wonderful story that, despite the final sentence of that quoted section, does not demonize the teachers at the "low-performing" school. Instead, the writer works to understand the conditions of the school and the students' lives.

Part of it involves socks.

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