We all know that an achievement gap exists in this country. White children tend to outperform black children. Children from wealthy families tend to outperform children from poorer families. And we've tried countless reforms to close these gaps. But I think that virtually all of these reforms can be fit into one of these four categories (roughly in chronological order by start date):
1.) Equalize Resources of Schools
From "Separate but Equal" to Savage Inequalities to school finance lawsuits, people have advocated that schools with more disadvantaged youth be given resources equal to those of wealthier schools -- everything from textbooks to experienced teachers. In other words, "give them the same."
2.) Integrate Schools
From Brown v. Board of Education to busing to magnet schools, people have tried to send poorer children to the same schools as wealthier children -- hoping that attending the same school will yield the same results. In other words, "mix them together."
3.) Enhance Impoverished Schools
From the Abbott Districts in NJ to boarding schools like Hershey or SEED to schools with dental clinics and social workers, people have attempted to make up for the lack of resources at home by providing poorer students with more resources at school than are available to wealthier students. In other words, "give them more."
4.) "No Excuses"
From NCLB to charter schools to vouchers people have set out to prove that children from poorer families can achieve with the same level of resources if only we avoid making excuses and do our best. In other words, "work harder."
All four movements have yielded some successes and some failures. None of the four have been implemented to the extent that their fiercest supporters would advocate. And, arguably as a result, none of the four have completely closed the achievement gap.
But let me end with a couple questions for the readers of this post (there's a reason for this, which I'll get to in a later post):
1.) Do you agree that virtually all reforms designed to close the achievement gap thus far can be lumped into these four categories? If not, what category am I missing? (If you don't leave a comment, I'll assume you agree with me.)
2.) Is there some other strategy not listed on here that we're not pursuing that we should be? (If you don't leave a comment, I'll assume there's not.)