Monday, October 10, 2011

From MUSE: T4SJ:2011: Keynote Dr. Gloria Ladsen-Billings

Here are my notes from the Keynote Address

Achievement gap is usually seen as a deficit in the students:  they and their parents need to catch up.
We should view it instead as a debt. Kids don't need to catch up, we need to pay down the debt
Scholastic disparity

Semantic problem with achievement gap:
Academic progress is not static, characterizes problem as one of student achievement.  Framed as if the students are not doing their part. And we hear nothing about funding gaps (per pupil spending), health gaps, wealth gaps 

Achievement gap worsens as kids get older

Suburban schools on average: 10k more per child than kids in urban schools

Why does the funding gap map so cleanly onto the racial population disparities in schools?
Persistent underfunding -- decades

Earning ratios
Wealth gap bt white and Black in us is much greater than the earning gap
Community ties are between and amongst same race - wealth stays within those communities
No wealth to trade, move around in black and brown communities
So earning is it in those families

Extreme poverty: less than 7k per year for family of three
One million kids in the US are in extreme poverty

Health gap
Death rates higher for four main causes of death

To focus on achievement gap in midst of these other gaps, wrongheaded and disingenuous

Substantive problems with achievement gap
Not new, imbedded in our thinking about poor children and children of color
Even when the specific language of cultural deficit is not used, the thinking behind it remains
Parents don't care, don't have enough exposure or experience, families don't value education, not ready for school, coming from a culture of poverty

No one acknowledges things like transportation difficulties, danger? Of leaving neighborhood
   Possibility of things like carpool organization
Treating families with dignity and humanity
Home visits
I have never met a parent who doesn't care 
Have different ways of expressing

So classrooms are filled with "experiences" INSTEAD OF. TEACHING
Sympathy instead of rigorous teaching - you poor dear
   Sympathy becomes excuses for why can't expect much
Permission to fail rather than demanding success

Definition of "ready" of to begin school
Now have to know colors, shapes, reading, count to twenty, etc
   How is staying home with parents that "don't care" going to help. And isn't school a good place to learn those
When to start school varies across the world
Wealthy families have luxury of giving more time to students to prepare for school - additional experiences, time to mature, enrichment activity - so they're looking for more academically rigorous kindergarten curriculum
Sense that "I need even more" in middle class thinking

Poor families actually place a higher value on education    Pay more in tax dollars for education, primary targets for noodles on phonics, etc
Seen as the primary means to life them out of poverty
Rich see school as a credential ing mechanism
Poor see school as school
Historical records: civil rights era, education was the primary battle ground- school mattered more than jobs, houses, other social inequalities

The meaning we give to behavior: same behavior, different interpretations

Poverty is NOT a culture
It is a condition produced by the various pieces of a society
Consultants making money from desperate school talking about culture of poverty - the students are so deviant and strange, primary purpose of school is to bring order to their lives
Does not deal with students as individual people's, their humanity
Pedagogy of poverty, Haberman, 1991 -- 14 functions of urban schooling in the pedagogy of poverty
Poverty that exists on one side of society is related to the affluence on the other
Pedagogy of poverty defines the way that pupils spend their time, etc
Students can succeed without becoming involved or thoughtful
Obsessed with control - fear students of color

controlling discourse, controlling thinking

"education debt" holds us all responsible rather than blaming students and parents
- underfunding, exclusion, unethical/immoral treatment of large segments of our population

This post was also published on MUSE '13

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