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We Must Not Deny Our Children Their Childhood

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Amidst the college admissions scandal, Neale Godfrey at Kiplinger asked this question, "Are you at risk of being a 'payoff' parent?" We want our children to succeed. And in wanting, we look for ways to give our children a leg up. Even in soccer, we send our children to "travel" teams. We are not satisfied with recreational teams. We always want the best for our children so that they will be ahead of their peers. As Godfrey points out, we may be "helicopter" or "lawn mower" parents right now, but in the end, we actually risk becoming "payoff" parents. There is, however, one more important risk that we take when we try to make our children better than others, we may be denying them their childhood.



Preschool is important to prepare children for basic education. Kindergarten, after all, has become so demanding both academically and socio-emotionally. So it has become clear that for students to thrive in their primary years, they m…

The Reason Why We Cannot Fix Inequity in Advanced Academic Programs

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The previous post on this Blog "We voted for ONE Fairfax" elicited this comment in a Washington DC online forum: "The School Board has contributed to this mess. NO doubt there is too much Advanced Academic Program (AAP) --they have watered it down. Why? Because they were trying to get more minorities in the program. What happened. They got more Asian and White kids in the program who don't all belong there." Having spent a year in a committee of parents advising the school board on AAP, I have seen plenty of reasons why the county had not been able to fix inequity. Of these various reasons, however, there is one, unless addressed, would always spell failure in any effort to increase the number of underrepresented students in AAP. That reason is tradition. Former principal Brian Butler comments on a post made by newly elected school board member Ricardy Anderson, "It’s a great opportunity for Ricardy to transform a traditional system that holds on to tradit…

We Voted For ONE Fairfax

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Elections unfortunately do not solve problems. What we do after the poll matters. However, we do bring what we value to the ballot box and it is crystal clear that yesterday, we, at Fairfax county, voted for equity, diversity and inclusiveness. The paths to these values are not easy. These values will challenge some of our strongly held preconceived notions. For this reason, it is imperative that we listen to what evidence tells us. The Washington Post states that the Democratic supported candidates winning yesterday pushes the Fairfax County School Board further to the left. This is not about left versus right. The winners of yesterday's school board elections rejected elitism, intolerance and division. Our new school board embraces "education for all". Our new district representative, Ricardy Anderson, for instance, wrote this last night, "...as we work to close the achievement gap that cripples our most vulnerable."



This is where the challenge begins. How do…

Those Who Do Not Have A Voice Need Our Votes

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So much is at stake this coming Tuesday in Fairfax county. The results of this election will decide whether our schools march forward or take a step back against equity and inclusiveness. There is a dramatic difference between the two sets of candidates. One group aims to bring our community to work as one while the other stokes the flames of divisiveness and intolerance. One calls for our commitment to protect and serve all our children while the other caters to our prejudice and opinions. In education, it is important that we are guided by evidence and research, yet our county currently has candidates spawning lies and misinforming the public. All of the children need our support. There is absolutely no room for bigotry. Candidates who resort to spewing lies and sowing division do not deserve our vote.


Seriously?  Are these issues more important than the achievement gap between races, between poor and rich children? Are these more important than the academic challenges we now face?

The Cure To An Ailing Nation's Report Card: Address Inequity In Our Schools

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The current Hunter Mill District Fairfax County School Board Member Pat Hynes, while sharing the previous post on this blog, Advanced Academic Programs Hurt Basic Education, wrote:

If some kids are always reading below grade level, maybe that’s because we never hold them accountable for more. Labeling, sorting, and separating kids fosters a fixed mindset in teachers about their kids and, tragically, in kids’ own self awareness.

With Pat Hynes not seeking reelection, Hunter Mill now has a choice between two candidates. No longer having Hynes on the school board can easily mean losing an individual on the board who recognizes and understands the scourge of inequity in basic education. Standing up for equity in our schools is clearly not a glamorous task. In Fairfax county, for instance, one can win the ire of its Chinese American Parent Association:


Unfortunately, one of the candidates vying for Hynes' position simply echoes the above sentiment. Saying that the move for equity is sim…

Advanced Academic Programs Hurt Basic Education

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The Nation's Report Card actually provides strong evidence against advanced academic programs. In a post on this blog a year ago, "Gaps Are Increasing in the Nation's Report Card", a troubling trend has become evident, low achieving students are scoring even lower over the years. Well, the 2019 results are now available and the scores are sadly continuing with this trend. And the reason behind this trend maybe simple: Schools are providing two different curricula - and the instruction depends on whether the student is deemed low-achieving or high-achieving. This outcome should not come as a surprise since this is what happens with ability-grouping in basic education. It benefits no one but harms students who are struggling.


This time, I will not be citing a cartoon nor a comic strip, but a study done by the National Center for Education Statistics.


And below are directly copied from the report:





With these in mind, it now makes sense why parents try their best to have…

Advanced Academic Programs Only Contribute to Inequity

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It has been three decades since Robert Slavin at Johns Hopkins University told us in "Achievement Effects of Ability Grouping in Secondary Schools: A Best-Evidence Synthesis" that there is no educational benefit in grouping students according to what we perceive as their academic abilities. On the other hand, there is a clear drawback: Inequity in basic education. Receiving responses that are sometimes quite virulent on posts where I call for removal of advanced academic programs makes me realize that some parents actually fear public school education. Basically, parents fear that the curriculum provided to the students not deemed advanced is bad. This is the same reason why bringing equity to education is sometimes viewed as catering to the lowest common denominator. I guess I would be equally concerned if my child not deemed advanced is then asked to go through the word "the" as practice for sight reading over and over. Is this fear grounded on reality? Sadly, in…