Thursday, August 28, 2008

separate but unequal

Cheryle Jackson of the Chicago Urban League had a good op-ed piece in the Trib this week. I've heard the same stories from too many teachers in inner city schools of school budgets that do not even cover basic supplies, leaving the teachers themselves to buy chalk, paper, and other items that we take for granted in better funded schools. Some schools do not have adequate books. The books may be outdated or simply worn out from years of use. Students may be working by photocopied handouts, sometimes paid for by their teachers, because that's all there is.

This isn't an "us vs. them" situation. Lack of educational opportunity affects ALL of us.

Of course, the elephant in this particular room is parent participation. In neighborhoods where schools are severely underfunded, there are many other issues, beginning in students' homes. Parents may lack time because they're working 2 or 3 jobs to support their kids. They may have done poorly in school themselves and may not know how to help their children learn well. Kids may be living with grandparents or in foster homes.

I hope that the Urban League's next step will be pushing for more mentoring programs to help kids build the skills they need to learn well in school. Without that, increased funding is unlikely to solve the problem.

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