As a retired teacher just looking at the data I suppose I should be thankful to Linda Lutton from WBEZ and Melissa Silverberg and Tim Broderick from the Daily Herald for providing some.
Rather than just rank schools without regard for issues of poverty, they have created a Poverty-Achievement Index.
Now we can bracket out kids who live in poverty and compare them to one another and compare how their schools compare to one another and how they compare to kids and schools who don’t face the challenge of being poor.
And we can compare the teachers who teach kids in poverty to one another.
Why doesn’t this put a smile on my face this morning?
On the one hand, at least they are taking poverty into account when talking about schools.
Frankly, to her credit Linda Lutton has been doing this for years.
But a little voice in the back of my head is telling me that the last thing schools need is more bar graphs and pie charts comparing kids, schools and teachers to one another.
Didn’t we know that kids who live in poverty face incredible learning challenges?
And that the teachers who teach them face incredible teaching challenges?
And the parents who raise them face incredible life challenges?
How does a new way of ranking help us?
In the richest country in the world children represent a disproportionate share of the poor in the United States; they are 24 percent of the total population, but 36 % of the poor population.
In 2010, 16.4 million children, or 22% lived in poverty.
There is value in looking at how teachers, schools, students and parents face the challenges of poverty and manage to beat the odds.
I don’t see how that really comes from a new index that ranks and compares them.
The shame is in that so many face the odds.