I keep waiting for the time when the inequalities that exist in our country come to the forefront of the education conversation. I refuse to give up hope that one day attention will shift to issues that have created an enormous achievement gap in American education. A gap that continues to grow. And that many continue to ignore.
Think of all of the change we’ve seen happen in just the last 30 years. The progress. The innovation. The social change. Now consider the fact that, academically, poor children are still desperately behind their affluent peers, to say the least. It’s a growing problem, and not one just confined to urban and rural areas. Families educated in failing schools are fleeing to suburban areas and are finding themselves academically unprepared for what awaits. And it’s likely that once they get there, they’re unable to ever catch up. Why aren’t we talking about this more?
I met up with my friend Jessy at the ISTE conference. Jessy works for Ten Marks and we hung out at the Ed Tech Karaoke party. Although we didn’t do much singing or partying…we chose to talk about RSS feeds, April Fools blogging jokes and the achievement gap instead! Jessy, like myself, grew up in an urban school system that was riddled with many of the social ills that are all too common in our nation’s cities. We found ourselves talking about how many kids are still being left behind and about how, amidst all the talk of flipping classrooms and 1:1 computing and BYOD at ISTE and on social media, so little attention is paid to these kids.
I know it’s a question that’s been asked before, but in a country as wealthy as ours, how is it possible that there are still so many children for whom academic success is something so far out of reach? And, more importantly, why is no one talking about it? Where’s the outrage?
I was really glad to meet Jessy, and especially grateful to talk about this issue with someone. At these big conferences, there’s a lot of focus on razzle-dazzle and trends and tech tools. But, to me, there are still so many things about the core of education that still need attention. And unless we’re focusing on those, even if every kid in every affluent suburb in the country has an iPad in their hands, we are failing.
For people like me and Jessy and thousands of others working in education who are products of troubled, underfunded school systems, these questions are things we regularly ponder. It’s time to figure out how to encourage others to ponder them as well. Of course, it’s not just pondering we need. It’s discussion. And action.
This week, I’ll be blogging about this topic and sharing some current events and articles that do bring attention to the widening divide. Some will have a local angle (we do, after all, work in the city Secretary Arne Duncan likened to “ground zero in education”), but even if you don’t live in Detroit, these are stories that could be told in far too many American hometowns–urban, rural, and (increasingly) suburban.