Last Modified: Tuesday, August 07, 2012 5:50 PM
At least some Louisiana educators have been discussing effective ways to teach impoverished children, as well they should.
There are 15 million children living in poverty in the U.S., and the links are many and strong between poverty and low performance in school.
Experts urged the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana, or A+PEL, to disrupt those links that pose barriers to disadvantaged children. Not the least of these is low expectations.
A Baton Rouge Advocate news report said that John Hodge, president of the Urban Learning and Leadership Center in Virginia, told a recent A+PEL gathering not to lower the bar for “at risk” students.
“If the term is coupled with lower expectations then that term is damaging,” he said. “If you don’t think a kid can do it regardless of circumstances then they won’t.”
Hodge encouraged teachers to go the extra distance for students, to become involved in their lives and to demonstrate concern for students’ success. That can happen in public schools as well as in charter schools.
John White, state superintendent, told teachers that poverty does not have to be eradicated before schools can improve. Indeed, White, knows that dedicated classroom teachers can help at-risk students meet high standards. White’s background includes time with Teach for America, which focuses efforts on impoverished areas.
The state itself claims some success in public schools in high-poverty areas. The Louisiana Department of Education web site touts the state’s work in narrowing the gap between achievement among black students and achievement among white students. The Education Department website claims that it has ID’d 82 high-performing, high-poverty schools.
Poverty presents difficult conditions for student success, from birth on. For example, impoverished schools oftentimes include more students who were born with low birth weight, who struggle to get their vaccinations, and who have less access to medical care. Some successful schools in high-poverty areas have wellness centers, or provide training for parents so that they can help their children succeed. Others struggle. Students who accomplish a lot academically sometimes struggle socially in comparison to middle-class students.
Those educators who have built their careers around serving impoverished students deserve the state’s full support. The surest way to combat poverty is with effective education, and that starts with dedicated teachers.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.