'We give them less of everything'
TAMPA -- It’s a common story line: If kids do poorly in school, it must be because of them and their parents. Not so, said Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust.
Look no further than the disparities in funding, teacher quality and grade inflation that you’ll find tilted heavily against students in high-poverty schools, Haycock told about 100 people this morning, including members of the Florida Board of Education.
“We give them less of everything,” said Haycock, whose group urges more dramatic action to close the achievement gap.
“I don’t want to argue with anyone with any suggestion that poverty and things like that don’t matter,” she also said. “But while these things matter, what we do in our schools and our districts and our states matters even more.”
Haycock kicked off the state Department of Education’s “What’s Working” series with a call for higher standards, higher expectations and more high-quality teachers for students in high-poverty schools.
Some teachers have responded to calls for making coursework relevant to black students by putting references to Martin Luther King Jr. in –- and taking rigor out, she said. Meanwhile, a majority of students in math and language arts classes in high-poverty middle schools now get coloring assignments. “That’s the depth to which our expectations for poor kids have dropped,” she said.
Haycock also said it’s a “gigantic lie” that all teachers are just as good. A growing body of research in the past 15 years shows some teachers are far better than others, she said –- and that students saddled with poor teachers fall behind and stay behind.
“Kids who have even two weak teachers in a row never recover,” said Haycock, who singled out the St. Petersburg Times for its recent stories on teacher quality. (See the most recent one here.)
After her presentation, Haycock took questions from the audience and from the Gradebook. Look to Saturday’s Gradebook for more.