It is just as easy to say -
Schools that serve economically disadvantaged students must be equitably and justly funded to provide equitable and excellent educational opportunities.
As it is to say -
Poverty is the cause of failing schools.
But neither underfunding (or inequitable funding) nor poverty are likely to change, and even if they were, we would still be left with the undeniable problem of so many inadequate teachers, not for want of motivation or talent, but because of an antiquated system that hasn't even begun to understand how to marry the essential quality of human interaction between student and teacher with all the capabilities of modern technology in a world that must necessarily spend as much time contemplating the future as studying the past.
We need to reinvent the Little Red Schoolhouse. We are stuck on "common" standards, standardized testing and defined expectations. If you walk into the quicksand, you can't just expect that walking harder or faster will get you out.
Standardized testing does not address the effects of poverty. It only clearly identifies it.
Standardization doesn't eliminate racism, it exacerbates it in refusing to celebrate and understand our differences. It diverts our attention from the real cause and the real solution.
Equitable funding alone doesn't ensure educational opportunitiees. Our system of public education has to break out of its mold.
It's pretty pathetic that all that the reformers (and all their $$$$) could come up with in the way of innovation is the empty choice of autonomous charters, but it awakened us to the fact that people do want solutions and those solutions are only brought about by change. That change can take place in the security of brick and mortar, but the building has to "look different" on the outside and the inside.
We need to create a "disruption" of our own if we want public education to survive the determined efforts of corporate reformers to transform all that is beneficial into a sterile training ground for a workforce to serve their greed for profits and power.
Surely we can come up with something better than standardized testing to accomplish such a simple task as eliminating racism and overcoming the effects of poverty!
In the meantime, the Urban League, DFER, BAEO and particularly in my neck of the woods, our legislative black caucus, are shooting themselves in the foot by falling for the myth of choice, faux equity and standardization. Their community schools in New Orleans have been shuttered, their black teachers run out of town after Katrina and replaced with TFA, and their children, once again, bussed cross town int he dark of night in the name of Choice, Equity and Excellence.
And in the midst of the assault on the teaching profession (white teachers), here am I and so many other (white) teachers fighting for their schools with absolutely no other agenda than to bring the same opportunities for every other kid that mine had.
Standardized testing is a weapon - not a tool!