All Kids Can Achieve, Part 573,746

The NYTimes has a great profile of a school in Brooklyn that consistently achieves at high levels, despite serving a student population with high levels of poverty.  Read the whole thing, it’s worth your time.  Matt Yglesias makes the important, but often lost, point that not all high-performing, high-poverty (HPHP) schools are charter schools.  There are a bunch of other mini-stories here, like:

“Mr. Spatola attributed the coaches and other extra help to careful budgeting and fighting for every dollar from the Department of Education; the school’s cost per pupil, in fact, is lower than the city’s average.”

I’ll go on the record saying that high poverty schools need access to greater resources to consistently and predictably do the incredibly hard work they do, but this passage illustrates how a more careful and thoughtful approach to budgeting goes a long way to mitigating disparities. It’s also worth noting that many state and district policies severely limit a principal’s ability to be creative with budget allocation.  That needs to change.  Also this:

” … at the start of this school year, seven or eight students were still falling behind. So the school hired a speech therapist who could analyze why they and other students stumbled in language. A psychologist produced detailed assessments and recommendations. A dental clinic staffed by Lutheran Medical Center opened an office just off the fourth-grade classrooms, diagnosing toothaches, a possible source of distraction, and providing free cleanings.”

This falls squarely within the “Readiness to Learn” and “Readiness to Act” components of our Readiness Triangle.  The principal understood that he had to mitigate some of the issues children brought with them to school (Readiness to Learn: Action Against Adversity), and he reallocated existing resources – and proactively identified new resources – to enable that mitigation strategy (Readiness to Act: Agility in the Face of Turbulence.)

One Response to All Kids Can Achieve, Part 573,746

  1. Pingback: NCLB, We Hardly Knew Ye « Meeting the Turnaround Challenge

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