I have included two links below that talk about the City’s efforts to wipe out troubled areas. Perhaps what is most interesting about this topic is the overwhelming silence of apathy, punctuated by the strong voices of the few who know and care about what is going on.
How is this related to Education? Why am I including it on a blog supposedly about Unit 4?
In a nutshell, because we are all connected. Whether or not you agree with Brian Dollinar’s scathing analysis, it is extremely hard to dispute the facts; this is just the latest in a trend of sweeping the troubles under a rug. It looks like some of the problems “just go away”, but that is hardly further from the truth. Here is the meat of the matter for me. There are kids in these communities that we have “erased”. These kids are in our classrooms, they might even sit right next to your little one. How are they being helped by these massive community-wide displacements? What kind of lesson are we teaching them? There is a whole other connected issue of our community’s plans to build a frickin’ $20 million jail. Really? So instead of trying to make better citizens out of our troubled youth, we prefer to shuffle them out of sight? Ouch.
Here is something else that is bothering me that I have not fully formulated into an actionable plan. First, here is what the Illinois School Code says:
(b) School districts shall not promote students to the next higher grade level based upon age or any other social reasons not related to the academic performance of the students. On or before September 1, 1998, school boards shall adopt and enforce a policy on promotion as they deem necessary to ensure that students meet local goals and objectives and can perform at the expected grade level prior to promotion. Decisions to promote or retain students in any classes shall be based on successful completion of the curriculum, attendance, performance based on Illinois Goals and Assessment Program tests, the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, or other testing or any other criteria established by the school board. Students determined by the local district to not qualify for promotion to the next higher grade shall be provided remedial assistance, which may include, but shall not be limited to, a summer bridge program of no less than 90 hours, tutorial sessions, increased or concentrated instructional time, modifications to instructional materials, and retention in grade.
I am confused how we have children percolating through our school district that cannot read at grade level. I may be somewhat blind (I do wear contacts, after all), but it seems to me that a large majority of our children advance through the grades with all their peers regardless. Yet, I have often heard at Board Meetings and PTA Council meetings about how Parkland has to do a bit of remedial training just to get graduates up to speed. I have heard about how we need to focus on literacy and get kids reading at grade level by third grade. Why? I am not trying to poke holes or discredit anyone. I am expressing confusion and a lack of understanding. Why even have a state School Code?
And believe you me, I have become a big support of the need for literacy. I really like the push for literacy by third grade, and the reports that say third-grade reading levels are a good early indicator of whether a child will lean towards the criminal “correctional” system are pretty convincing.
Like I said, these things are connected. Demolishing a troubled neighborhood does no more good to increase the literacy level of struggling students than does slamming the door in their face.
I do want to acknowledge the many good things about Unit 4 as well. I am saving that for the next post, Happenings III.