Closing the Achievement Gap: Who's Going to Take the Weight? Scholars Urge Funding of School Reform and Community Involvement, but Say Parents Must Take Active Role in Children's Education
Roach, Ronald, Black Issues in Higher Education
Since the early 1990s, Dr. A. Wade Boykin, under the auspices of CRESPAR, a joint Howard University/John Hopkins University research collaboration, has worked with public school officials, teachers and students in Washington D.C., and Maryland to devise innovative teaching and curriculum practices for struggling schools, many of which are populated primarily by poor Black and Latino children. Not surprisingly, demand for programs produced by the research collaboration has grown considerably since the nation's schools have fallen under the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act.
"School districts are willing to try new things to improve learning by their students," Boykin says. "The paradigm of schooling has remained one of sorting children. That simply cannot continue. A lot of our work has really been about trying to change the school paradigm away from talent sorting to one of talent development."
At the heart of No Child Left Behind is the goal that all children, regardless of racial or socioeconomic background, receive a quality education that brings them to proficiency in math and reading. The focus on bringing children up to proficiency levels and holding schools accountable for the performance of their students has marked the federal government's first intervention into closing racial academic achievement gaps in the United States.
"For most of the 20th century, there was no outcry that we educated a small percentage of children to high levels," Boykin says.
More than three years after the enactment of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, the legislation, which incorporates both liberal and conservative ideas on school reform, generates praise as well as scorn. Mainstream civil rights groups, education advocacy organizations and progressives have praised the accountability measures that bring attention to racial learning gaps, but they criticize the Bush administration for not providing the funding to achieve reform. In fact, just last month several school districts across the country, along with the National Education Association, filed a lawsuit asking the courts to recognize that NCLB requires the federal government to pay for billions of dollars in new mandates. Conservatives, for their part, have resisted proposing significant increases in federal K-12 education funding, but have recommended changes to help states handle the bureaucratic demands of the law.
While it's clear that school reform under NCLB has added to a highly charged education environment in the United States, it's also evident that minority intellectuals and leaders are hotly debating issues over leadership, …
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Publication information: Article title: Closing the Achievement Gap: Who's Going to Take the Weight? Scholars Urge Funding of School Reform and Community Involvement, but Say Parents Must Take Active Role in Children's Education. Contributors: Roach, Ronald - Author. Magazine title: Black Issues in Higher Education. Volume: 22. Issue: 7 Publication date: May 19, 2005. Page number: 32+. © 1999 Cox, Matthews & Associates. COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group.
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