Have We Given Up On Our School?

It was an evening party for my daughter and her teammates in basketball and soccer. Most of the girls were going to Mason Crest Elementary School and everyone seemed happy with the school. However, there is another school that serves our neighborhood and it is Annandale Terrace Elementary School. Unlike Mason Crest, Annandale Terrace did not receive glowing remarks from the adults who were in the party. One remark I heard was that people had already given up on Annandale Terrace. Like Mason Crest, Annandale Terrace is a Title I school, a school where a significant fraction of children enrolled belong to low-income families, but unlike Mason Crest, Annandale Terrace has nearly 80 percent of its students qualifying for free or reduced-fee lunch. Based on state test scores, Annandale Terrace students score far below the state average in reading, math and science. A comment posted on GreatSchools summed up what I have heard regarding Annandale Terrace:

Above copied from GreatSchools

It is true that schools like Annandale Terrace needs to confront problems that are well outside its control. In Giving Up On School by Margaret Diane LeCompte and Anthony Gary Dworkin, the authors noted, "...schools are good and equitable where society itself is good and equitable." Thus, Fairfax county must deal first with increasing socio-economic segregation. Schools cannot wait for society to cure its ills first. LeCompte and Dworkin did not give up. They provided guidelines on what could be done to help schools like Annandale Terrace:

Above copied from Giving Up On School

We should not give up on our schools. That is simply the easier but useless route. Yes, it is hard to accept that some of the measures we take like Advanced Academic and Young Scholars' Programs are actually doing the opposite. It is not about putting less money into our schools and making it more efficient. It is about, first and foremost, treating each child as our own.

Annandale Terrace Elementary School has a bright spot. One of its teachers, Essel Linton, was the the Fall, 2018 Spotlight Award recipient at the American Center for Elemental Music and Movement. ACEMM writes, "Essel offers an introduction and two video articles on how elemental music and movement lessons are built, using a step-by-step process involving Preliminary Play, Imitation, Exploration, Improvisation and Creation. She currently teaches at Annandale Elementary School in Fairfax, Virginia. The large number of English as a Second Language (ESL) students presents Essel with a challenge to teach music and movement as well as English. She has found that using an elemental approach in her music class also leads to the acquisition of English language skills in a natural and holistic way."

And here are the two videos:

Grades IV and V

We only give up on our schools because we no longer see the children attending those schools as our own.