Fixing “bad” Schools

Regardless of locations, poor communities, and/or spoken languages, there should not be a reason for student’s academic failure, nor the ability to obtain a first-rate education. In my opinion, after reading David L Kirp’s article The Secret to Fixing Bad Schools I agree with his position about turning ‘bad’ schools into great schools. I strongly believe there is hope for traditional schools labeled as bad or broken. Although chatter schools are a great alternative for children who need to concentrate in a particular vocation or interest, they are not the only solution.

I suppose the author used Union City as an example in view of the fact that Union City’s current third graders all the way through high school student’s achievement scores have changed, and are now close to the statewide average when in past, Union City schools were so discreditable that state officials almost seized to control them. The author states that public schools in poor communities such as Union City often operated as factory for failure for the reason that three quarter of the students are Spanish speakers and one quarter undocumented.

In 2011, Union City achieved a high school graduation rate of 89.5 percent, 10 percent higher than the national average, what is more, last year, 75 percent of Union City graduates enrolled in college, and top students won scholarships. Given those statistics, Union City proved that all children have the same right to an efficient free-public education that prepares the students to meet the state’s academic standards. Because Union City committed to prepare high school children to graduate, enroll in college, and have the capability to earn scholarships, the state demonstrated that there is hope for “bad” schools by setting and implementing strategic goals with their students.

Union City teacher Susana Rojas cited that her goal was to use the head and the heart, cognitive and non-cognitive, thinking and feeling, and do for the kids what she would do for her own children, because if both concepts are combined, not only the child will have the helping hand and the role model, but they will take home the knowledge and the skills needed to be successful. Teachers and parents are the most influential people during early childhood through adolescence as well as culture. Teachers have the power to change children’s development because without good teaching and mentoring, kids would not develop most skills and understanding. Every child’s learning pace is different; therefore teachers need to implement strategies and a variety of learning programs and techniques to assess children’s educational development according to their needs and based on demographics.

Alina Bossbaly, another Union City teacher states that building ethics, character, and getting students to think by solving math problems and writing journals is essential in her classroom. She teaches the kids about helping the community and being part of it. Union City’s schools success was not an easy job. Administrators formulated long-term goals, from pre-school to high-school, developed necessary and customized programs to help students according to their needs which evidently made a huge difference.  Schools should not be categorized as “bad” schools, I think the school administration is responsible for being labeled as bad, and it is the school leader’s responsibility to make that change. Schools should do whatever is in their hands to provide communities the best possible education.

Because I believe teachers respond different to children’s linguistic and cultural background, because of cultural expectations in the school, it may also be difficult for the teacher to address the developmental needs of each child; therefore, teachers should be sensitive when it comes to students’ background, community or culture, I think that working with the parents in order to get informed about the child’s background can be a great idea. Union City schools developed early-childhood learning programs for children to learn to speak English and teachers urged to work together in order to make that change.

As I have shown, academic progress, student’s well-being, and success are the end product of effective schooling.  Urban schools deserve the same education, help, and resources as the rest of the schools nationwide. Although in the past Union City schools were unable to afford these resources, they worked extremely hard to earn them. It was the result of all the efforts from professionals, administrators, teachers and parents in need of a great school system, and hoping to give their kids high-quality education.

Closing schools is not the solution; the secret to fixing bad schools relies on creativity, dedication, hard work, and engagement from students, school leaders, and parent’s support, all with a long-term goal and a clear vision of what we want for our children’s future. It is team work from everyone who cares about the community and children’s lives.

The NewYork Times Article:

2 thoughts on “Fixing “bad” Schools

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