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Monday, May 25, 2015

Study says teachers at high poverty schools are worn out, um duh!

Florida and most of the nation treats poverty as if it is nothing but an excuse for not doing well in school, well when they aren't ignoring it that is. Poverty however is not an excuse, no, it is the number one measurable factor in education, those kids that live in it don't do as well as those that don't.

People can complain about it, point to this or that success story as some kids climbed their way out of it but that doesn't change the fact that many kids in poverty will never climb their ways out of it. Unless we decide to act.

There are numerous things we can do to mitigate poverty. We should have a longer school year so kids have more time to learn and less time in between grades to lose what they did. We should have smaller classes so kids get more individual attention and then social workers and mental health counselors to provide wrap around services because why a kid acts up or does poorly in school often has nothing to do with school. We should have more arts, trades and skills in our neediest schools so it doesn't become such drudgery for the kids while they are there and then they have options once they graduate too.  

Instead of addressing the number one problem leading to poor outcomes in schools, poverty, the powers-that-be instead focus on blame the teacher evaluations, high stakes tests, that excel at one thing and that's to show the socioeconomic status of neighborhoods and putting poorly trained teach for america teachers who stay for a couple ears only to be replaced by anther set or you know the exact opposite of what we know that our most challenged students need. 

Two recent articles detail just how bad it is. The first is in the Tampa Times and it tells about the plight of teachers who work in our poorest schools.

But the proof is in their own data: It's hard to teach at a high-poverty school.
There's less buy-in from parents. Kids don't follow the rules. There aren't even enough computers. And staff turnover is sky high.
"We have 32 new teachers on board," said Krystal Carson, principal of Potter Elementary School in east Tampa, which is struggling with behavior and other issues.
Instead of addressing working conditions in the high poverty schools and putting in behavior supports teachers are blamed and pushed out of the profession for not overcoming poverty.
Then an article in the Washington Post says teachers believe poverty is the number one problem in our schools, but since poverty is an excuse and teachers, you know the ones doing the actual educating are ignored nothing gets done about it.
From the Washington Post: There are many teachers across the country like Romero-Smith, who, day in and day out,work with students who come to class hungry or sick or homeless or traumatized or living in wretched conditions, and who aren’t fully able to concentrate on doing a close reading of a novel excerpt. They know that the conditions in which students live outside class are the biggest impediment to student progress.
These issues, however, have not been at the forefront of school reform efforts, which, under former president George W. Bush and now under President Obama, have concentrated on holding students, teachers and schools “accountable” for progress through the use of standardized test scores. School reform proponents say that they can’t fix poverty right away and that teachers too often use poverty as an excuse for a lack of student progress and fight reform efforts because they don’t want to be held accountable. Teachers have been shouting for years that for most of them, that simply isn’t true, but reformers have carried on anyway. Mental health issues get short shrift in school budgeting.
Yet research clearly shows the effects on student achievement by poverty-induced physical, sociological and psychological problems that children bring to school. David Berliner, regent’s professor emeritus at Arizona State University, a prominent researcher and educational psychologist who has studied the issue, cites six out-of-school factors that are common among the poor and that affect how children learn, but that reformers effectively say can be overcome without attacking them directly: (1) low birth weight and non-genetic prenatal influences; (2) inadequate medical, dental and vision care, often a result of inadequate or no medical insurance; (3) food insecurity; (4) environmental pollutants; (5) family relations and family stress; and (6) neighborhood characteristics.
Let me bottom line it for you. We can continue to blame teachers, we can continue testing kids to death, we can even outsource our kids education to for profit charters and unregulated private schools but none of that will help or fix our problems.  
We have to address poverty no matter how distasteful it is to some, that's the solution and that's what we should be doing,   

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