The Board of Education has an opportunity, I believe, to set aside the contract that employs Doctor Marlon James and Loyola University since I do not believe it has been signed. To do so would show they are truly interested in fixing the achievement gap problem. To remind everyone the scope of the James/Loyola agreement is to look at black male students in the high school and try to find out why they underperform white students. Please note it is a single-sex single race approach. It would seem to be similar to another study, Doctor James performed with an Atlanta school, (See http://journalofafricanamericanmales.com/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2010/09/Never-Quit-Marlon-C-James-.pdf).
I am not at all opposed to the idea of studying why we have an achievement gap and how to rectify the situation. If we can understand why we have an achievement gap, we can, and will, I am sure, understand how to approach the issue and minimize, if not nullify this unfortunate gap. To reduce or nullify the achievement gap is the stated goal of all parties concerned, the parents, the BoE, and the State. The single-sex, single race approach is shortsighted and arguably could be called racist. I am very surprised that people are not complaining about the fact that we are studying only one subgroup of the minorities in Windsor. Why are we not studying black females, and Hispanics, and for that matter any and all subgroups?
Again, I am not opposed to such study. However, the scope of such an endeavor should be widened to all minorities and more narrowly focused on an area where we can make an appreciable difference. To do otherwise is wasting time that we do not have. I have said repeatedly: Education is not a do over business, yet this study clearly is a do over study. We also will be wasting money and lengthening the period of time that we must live with an achievement gap. That in my opinion is totally unacceptable.
I understand there is information that suggests the achievement gap becomes evident in the elementary schools. So a fair question, and moreso the proper question is: Why are we not studying how to alleviate the achievement gap in the elementary school where it begins?
We do know that it is easier to modify behavior while the children are still in the formative years of elementary school. If we can find out what causes the achievement gap at this level we can then easily implement tools or create methods to modify the path that leads to an ever widening achievement gap. However, to study the high school is to study students that have followed the achievement gap trajectory from many years. It is at the high school level that modification of this path is going to be very difficult vs. making an adjustment in elementary school where change is much easier to implement. Also studying this at the elementary level places us all in a better position to FIX this problem and yield some tangible results.
I can only hope calmer, less emotional, and more thoughtful minds will review this information that I’m putting forth and reconsider their approach to this problem. We clearly do not want an achievement gap and we clearly want to fix the problem. However, to study this at the high school level, where the behavior is a fait accompli, is a waste of valuable time and resources.
I would be interested in hearing other respectful comments on this issue. I believe the approach I am fomenting is appropriate logical and will actually yield results that benefit the most important people in this process, the students.