Equity in Education Requires a Change in Mindset

We cannot work toward providing each and every child the opportunity to excel, if we ourselves cling to a sense of hierarchy. When we continue to view people in terms of ranks or even levels of importance, we are not truly promoting a climate where equity can thrive. Mel Ainscow at the Center for Equity in Education at the University of Manchester noted, "it is clear that there is much that individual schools can do to tackle issues within their organizations, and that such actions are likely to have a profound impact on student experiences, and perhaps have some influence on inequities arising elsewhere." Our own actions teach. How we run our schools teaches students. For this reason, equity can only be achieved if we not only teach it, but also live by it. Brian Butler, the former principal at Mason Crest Elementary School, the school that has won recognition as an outstanding model for a professional learning community, illustrates this change in mindset in the way he act…

Advanced Academics for All

I serve in two committees in my county's school district: Advanced Academics and Title One Parent Advisory Committees. And it is interesting that one advocacy may actually fit in both: "Advanced Academics for All", since Title One schools are attended by students who are often underrepresented in advanced academic programs. It may sound unreasonable but latest research actually shows that advanced academics actually help not just in math and reading, but also in developing social-emotional skills, for both low- and high-achieving children.

Vi-Nhuan Le and coworkers examined the ECLS-K:2011 dataset, which contained data for more than 11000 children and 2600 teachers in kindergarten. The advanced academic content of each classroom was measured in terms of how frequent language arts and mathematics skills were taught. These were combined with the social-emotional outcomes as well as two stages of language and math assessments. The results of the study are summarized below:


"Collective Intelligence"

When Jonathan Plucker and coworkers wrote "Talent on the Sidelines: Excellence Gaps and America's Persistent Talent Underclass", they cautioned us, "One reasonable criticism of the 2010 study was our reliance on standardized test data at the national and state levels." Plucker and coworkers recognize that they are reducing the definition of excellence to proficiencies in math and reading. This indeed is a narrow view of education, but even with "a broader range of indicators — for example, 21st century skills or measures of creative productivity" as Plucker and coworkers have suggested, their view remains incomplete because it focuses on human performance at the individual level. This is a major problem because it is no secret that the current frontiers of human knowledge are multidisciplinary thereby requiring a number of viewpoints. Thus, with 21st century challenges, what we also need to look at is "collective intelligence".

We are very f…

Growing Up with Privilege

"Of course, as a parent, you want the best possible future for your child. But the best possible future should include a society that isn't organized around racism. Hagerman's book is a careful, painful and convincing argument that when white people give their children advantages, they are often disadvantaging others. Racism is so hard to overturn, in part, because white people prop it up when they work to make sure their children succeed." These words are from Noah Berlatsky in his recent article in NBCNewsA former principal of the school my children attend brought this article to my attention. The article's title is "White kids, racism and the way privileged parenting props up an unjust system". In this article, Berlatsky discusses a book written by Margaret Hagerman, "White Kids: Growing Up with Privilege in a Racially Divided America (Critical Perspectives on Youth)". The book exposes how "families who do not have racist intentions,…

Salary Raises and Education

Teachers in public schools in the Philippines are scheduled to receive raises this year. Without seeing the actual numbers, this sounds like good news. With the actual numbers, the news is not necessarily good. It is actually bad. Novice teachers are about to see a 3-4 percent increase in their pay while master teachers are set to gain 6-8 percent. Percentages, however, only tell part of the story. Since novice teachers' base salaries are lower than those of master teachers, the absolute amount in pesos for the raise of a master teacher could be as high as seven times that of a novice teacher. Such arrangement is not only unjust, but also detrimental to basic education.

Research shows that providing higher salary raises for teachers early in their career benefits education. Grissom and Strunk write in a study published in the journal Educational Policy, "We find that frontloaded compensation schemes—those that allocate greater salary returns to experience to novice teachers—a…

Good Thing, Basic Education Is Not Under Federal Government in the United States

Schools in my county opened their doors this morning after a two-week long winter break. My son had to wake up early to catch his school bus. Basic education continues even with a federal government shutdown. It is true that some programs in our schools are funded by the federal government but the United States Department of Agriculture says that "the Child Nutrition (CN) Programs, including School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Feeding, Summer Food Service and Special Milk will continue operations into February". Still, a federal shutdown affects workers and their families. It affects science and research. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, for instance, is not as fortunate. Ninety five percent of its employees are not able to work due to the shutdown. So my children were able to see the shutdown in action as we were in Houston this past Thursday.

The above are photos of the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility where astronauts train. The likelihood …

Faifax County School Board Will Address Inequity in Its Advanced Academic Program

It was my first time to witness a school board meeting in Fairfax county. Fairfax County School Board At-Large Member Karen Keys‐Gamarra last night requested the Board to consider a work session to discuss "inequities of opportunity and access for historically underrepresented populations to Advanced Academic Programs". This is certainly a good first step. What struck me the most however was what I heard before the meeting from a current student. The student talked about his experience of being enrolled in the gifted program in grade school during which he might have appeared a year ahead of his peers in math. Now, that he is in high school, he is now five years ahead in math. He is wondering whether his peers would not have fallen so far behind if they were likewise afforded the same opportunities and access that were given to him.

Poverty profoundly affects basic education in so many ways. One way poverty insidiously undermines education is by limiting opportunities. Often…