New approach is needed to boost student success
Problems facing Buffalo schools featured in recent News articles include “Regents say Buffalo is prime example of struggling district,” “Education officials seek evaluation fixes” and “Lengthening the school day or year is mindless at best.”
Decisions regarding student education are made at the state level, from the top down. Curriculum, evaluation and prescription processes do not include teachers and school boards. Rather, there are threats of more evaluations of the former; dissolution of the latter.
High-stakes testing is the only accepted indicator of student progress. Other factors (i.e. poverty, broken homes, non-English-speakers), which prevent students from reaching their full potential, are ignored. This damages democratic participation and educational effectiveness.
A teacher said, “Tests are only tools. If a test confirms what we already know, it’s accurate – if not, it’s invalid. An area needing work will be addressed with the student.”
To build student success, why not utilize people already enriching the lives of Buffalo youth? Dedicated teachers, school boards, churches, youth peacekeepers, Quaker Alternatives to Violence training and application, parents, students and concerned citizens can work together, in classrooms and after school. Students with different, individual learning styles – one size doesn’t fit all – should be encouraged to actively participate in their own education, and to work with other students.
By targeting impediments and building student success, these resources could provide input into decision-making at all levels. Efforts to be more inclusive in all educational endeavors, and working together as equal contributors, will improve school environments, build community and give real hope for the future.