Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

No excuses: serious schools close the achievement gap

The Washington Post reports on Amistad Academy, a school in New Haven, Connecticut that is successfully challenging inner-city kids to academic excellence. Not surprisingly, the school works because it demands results and doesn’t tolerate nonsense.

My mom and dad worked for many years in inner-city public schools, so I know the challenges they face. I also know that there are a lot of cultural, social, and economic reasons for the achievement gap between African-American/Latino youngsters and white/Asian kids. But every time a school like this succeeds, there is one less excuse for not having the courage to confront the need for real education reform. There is no question that academic rigor, student discipline, and passionate teachers can close the achievement gap.

Discussions - 3 Comments

You know, I hear these stories about this or that minority school "closing the gap," but then I wonder if it’s really true. Most suburban schools also tolerate a good bit of nonsense...if all schools were run like one of his Majesty’s ships, would "white" or majority achievement also climb, thereby reinstating "the gap?"

I think the evidence is pretty clear that school achievement for low SES students is far more dependent on the quality of the school than achievement for high SES students. The reason is that the home environment of the latter is cognitively richer and the families have the resources, will and knowledge to compensate for poor schooling.

Mr. Williams, I think you know that neither income nor school effects eliminates the black-white achievement gap. Indeed, I haven’t see any good evidence that schools play much of a role at all...although the student body might. And isn’t it true that a significant gap exists even controlling for background characteristics? My basic point was there there are significant numbers of poor white students who might also benefit from a "tightened" school environment. To find out how much that helps minority students, the tests have to include all races.

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