Monday, June 18, 2012

Undermining What Works in Low Income Communities to Install Standardized Tests

Only people with little understanding of life in low-income communities and no sense of history would allow arts and after school programs to be cut to make room for standardized tests, as is currently happening in New York, Pittsburgh, Chicago, much of California, and communities around the nation. In the more than 300 oral history interviews we conducted for the Bronx African American History Project, person after person referred to a music teacher, a coach, or a director of an after school center, as the person most responsible for saving them from the streets and/or inspiring them to pursue higher education. As someone who attended NYC public schools, went to "night center" three days a week, and ended up on a team and in the school band in high school, I can testify to the accuracy of those observations. Teacher/mentors whom help students develop strengths in things they are passionate about and which bring joy in to their lives are a priceless resource in working class and poor neighborhoods. Turn them into drill instructors for tests and you undermine the transformative power of schools in the very places that power is most needed

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