It Still Shocks Me. Still.
Teacher/ Schools: These are achievement gap causes that are directly attributable to the functioning of site-based educators. EX: competence, expectations, understanding student diversity.
Bureaucracy/ World: These are causes that exist outside of educators' power to control. EX: parental involvement*, ELL-status**, poverty, NCLB.
Other: These were remarks that made no sense to me or were impossible to categorize.
42! They just kept coming, and first I make faces to go with my ever-expanding collection of little slash marks, and then I just sit and tally, because I cannot believe it. I should no longer be suprised, but my God, NCLB the cause of the achievement gap? As if everything was great pre-2002? Parents and Open Court the problem, (?) as if we weren't the ones with hours and days filled with opportunities to enact change and raise ourselves to some base level of effectiveness.
"What were the reasons your group came up with for the achievement gap?" Inflexibility to teach what we want, lack of parental involvement, NCLB.
We have to do better. We cannot continue with this abdication of responsibility. Yes, yes, yes, there are factors outside our control, and they affect some schools and some students therein disproportionately to others. But these factors are not the ballgame. It is our response to the poverty, parental education level, funding inequities that determine the effectiveness of teaching and learning. As such, they represent the start of the discussion, not the end. Not the end.
"Captain Yossarian, what were the reasons for the plane crash?" A flight plan that required that I fly in straight lines toward the destination city, lack of passenger involvement in keeping the plane aloft, and FAA regulations regarding the use of in-flight electronic devices.
I watched the faces during these recitations, trying to see if anyone else found the whole thing abhorrent. Instead I saw nods, and that smirk and self-satisfied sit-down after hurling blame at the doorstep of parents. This is the upcoming crop of educational leaders in the 408 and its environs, the ones who will lead for the next 25 years. One hundred people who think like this, who view themselves as powerless, their efforts weak and insubstantial, like rats' feet over broken glass.***
"Dr. Nick, why did the patient die?" A procedure for tumor removal I found creatively stifling, a lack of patient involvement during the first hour of surgery, and hospital regulations requiring I to file reports on patient progress toward health.
It's not that poverty, funding, and bureaucracy do not represent obstacles. They do. They're big, and spiky, and it hurts to climb over and through. But while you lack the ability and will to make this climb, even in the hypothetical, there is something fundamentally wrong with blaming the obstacle for your lack of progress.
*Outside of extreme examples this one really isn't outside a school's ability to influence though, is it?
***T.S. Eliot there at the end of that line, not me.