For Mother's Day this year, The Learning Curve asked six delegates to the annual Mom Congress to send us their educational wish lists. These "mom blogs" constitute an honest look at what's lacking in our school systems, a maternal reprimand of the current discourse, and a description of the dream school of the future.
A 101 point difference?
How is it possible that a school that has what many schools around the country are striving for -- an engaged and diverse student population, impressive school-wide achievement levels, high levels of achievement among nearly all of its sub-groups, an accessible, knowledgeable staff, an impressive level of parent involvement, a beautiful campus, and strong community partnerships -- still has a 101 point difference in average Academic Performance Index (API) scores between its African-American students and its white students?
That is the case at Sierra Madre School (part of the Pasadena Unified School District) where two of my three African-American sons are in first and third grades.
A gap between the API scores of Latino and white students exists as well. But at 67 points, it’s significantly smaller. And, over the past three years, progress has been made towards closing it. This is not the case with regards to the gap between scores of African-American and white students. It’s not budging.
My wish for my children’s school is for the closure of all of these achievement gaps.
As much as I’d like for this to happen overnight, I realize that it will take time and a concerted effort on the part of the adults in our school community. Commitment to deep self-reflection, honest communication, and the courage to face this challenge with eyes wide open and hearts open wide will be required.
As an educator, I earnestly believe in the importance of having high expectations for all students. As a mother, I think it’s critical that all of the adults in my children’s school community -- the educators, administrators, staff members, and parents alike -- expect, believe and interact with my children, and all children, as if they too earnestly believe that they are capable of achieving at high levels. Being satisfied with the idea that any group of children has met a minimum level of achievement, hit a target API score -- and therefore not consistently continuing to help that group of children to grow and progress academically -- is unacceptable.
While the achievement gap has roots that are deeply intertwined with the history of our country, it is something that we can, we must, and we will overcome. If the first step is for a mother to wish and hope for its closure, we’re ready for step two.
Now is the time for my school, and all schools where achievement gaps are an issue, to begin the conversations necessary to move forward and take action for the good of all of our children.
Click here for more Mother's Day wish lists.
All statements and opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors, and not of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation or NBC News.