Saturday, February 02, 2008

Town Meeting on Education

(from post to GT-Talk):

There was a town meeting on education here yesterday, where around 150 people came together to discuss their concerns about education and to suggest action plans for progress. All in all, it was a very positive meeting, with a lot of people who are passionate about improving education for children and adults.

Even so, it was a bit discouraging to me. There was a lot of interest in helping kids who are struggling, early childhood education, vocational education, violence prevention, parent and community involvement, communication about resources, institutional racism. But there was little interest in teaching foreign languages in the elementary school (our group was only 5 people), gifted education (again only 5), and matching curriculum to students (only 2).

The one concern that is always of interest to me was one group that ended up discussing raising expectations. The thing that interests me is the apparent conflict between the discussions about all of the kids who are struggling and need extra support and the people who keep saying that our expectations are not high enough and we need higher standards. People never seem to make what is to me the obvious conclusion: the expectations need to be tailored to the abilities and current levels of the students. Some students need much higher expectations, some students need much more support to achieve the current level of expectations.

And, as an aside: I am a bit blind-sided by the fairly large group that was discussing institutional racism. My perception has been that this is one of the LEAST prejudiced of the communities and school districts I have lived or worked in. While I understand that Native Alaskan children aren't doing as well in the schools as they should be, I see significant efforts on the part of the school district to deal with that problem.

No comments:

Post a Comment