Raising achievement, closing the gap
With the upcoming reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, I am reading more and more about the achievement gap between white and minority students. Note the recommendations and their apparent order of importance according to the NGA Center for Best Practices:
  • Higher-quality childcare
  • Professional development for caregivers
  • Preschool programs
  • Curriculum standards
  • Healthcare and social services wrap-around programs
  • Parent education
Essentially, to improve the achievement of minorities in this country, we need to separate them from their parents earlier, ensure that their caretakers are state certified, enrich them with state approved curriculum and make sure there is no lacking for government involvement in any aspect of their lives. Oh, yes. And train the parents while we are at it. This, while the research indicates that the primary reasons behind the achievement gap have less to do with race, health and economics than with parental involvement (pdf).

That is why I was so excited to read this story from the Washington Post. The Carter's noticed their son's attitudes about school began to slide as he grew older and became more aware of media stereotypes of black youth and subtle implications that academics were for the white kids.
That's why Tom and Renee Carter joined last year with about 15 families, including the parents of nearly every black male sixth-grader, to push their sons to graduate on time in 2012 with options for the future without lowering their expectations or test scores along the way. They call it Club 2012.
Parents meet with each other to share successes and set backs, assist their children with homework and plan field trips. They encourage and support one another in the difficult task of remaining the dominant influence in their children's lives so they do not succumb to the life pictured for them in the media and by peers. According to Pedro A. Noguera, a professor of sociology at New York University who studies achievement gaps,
Middle-class African Americans are still very influenced by the stereotypes that black kids are not academically oriented.

You have to defy the stereotypes associated with race or gender. So you need something else working in a very powerful way to show that being black and being academically oriented [are] not at odds...This is where a parent's role is very important.
Club 2012 is looking for ways to use their success to assist parents in other areas. I sincerely hope they are successful in their endeavors. These are the kinds of programs we need to be discussing as a nation...much more than we need the growing list of public programs designed to limit the effects of parenting on children.
Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.com
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