Why we should all support educational equity

Opinion

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By JIM SCHWARTZ

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American schools have been struggling for decades — and should have been struggling since their inception — to properly educate black and Latinx students. Oak Park and River Forest High School, like many suburban high schools with sizable black and Latinx populations, has been discussing this issue for years as part of a push for educational equity. 

This past summer, school administrators rolled out the district's plans for restructuring their freshman curriculum to combine the Honors track, where mostly white students are found, with the less rigorous College Prep track, where black and Latinx students are over-represented. The district is planning to implement the new curriculum in the fall of 2021, so halfway through the planning year seems like a good point to take stock.

Research has demonstrated that a de-tracked curriculum, with proper training and support for teachers, can improve the performance of students who were formerly tracked into the less rigorous curriculum and at the same time maintain the performance of students who were tracked into the rigorous curriculum. According to a study by Burris, Wiley, Welner, and Murphy, "A well-executed detracking reform can help increasing numbers of students reach state and world-class standards without adversely affecting high-achieving students." Evanston Township High School has been held up as an example of a school that has detracked successfully, with students in the combined curriculum increasing their ACT scores, Advanced Placement participation, and Advanced Placement success.

Oak Park has made the case for restructuring, but many middle-class white parents are skeptical. They worry that their child's performance will decrease because he or she is being put into a class with "lower-performing kids" who might "affect the classroom environment." These judgments are wrong on two counts. First, although as parents we must care about our own children, we must not care only about our own children. 

Especially when thinking about racial inequity, white middle-class parents must be willing to tolerate some risk in making changes that will benefit people of color who are the primary recipients of harm in the current system. Second, test scores are not the only, or even best, metric on which to evaluate a student's schooling. Defining success narrowly according to student achievement on standardized tests necessarily devalues every child's experience.

This is not to say that we should detrack primarily because white people benefit from it. The primary motivation for addressing inequities must be to stop and reverse the harm being done to people of color. But it is to say that white people cannot do the work of anti-racism just because we believe it will benefit others. White people need to work toward being anti-racist both because it is the right thing to do for others and because we ourselves are also damaged by white supremacy. When any child is valued according to their ability to produce narrow, analytical reasoning in a sterile testing environment, that child's life is diminished.

We human beings contain so much, and we need to value all of it — from narrow, analytical reasoning to broad, creative thinking, everything between, and everything outside. And the schooling we provide to our young people should demonstrate and cultivate what we value. 

I cannot guarantee that the specific plan OPRF High School is creating will do this, but we need to start the change somewhere. The plan has the right research backing and is moving forward in a spirit of learning and growth. Staying where we are is a recipe for stagnation and inequity, and moving forward will allow us to work toward greater educational equity for all of our children. 

I ask my fellow white Oak Parkers to support this plan and the growth and values that come with learning from our mistakes. It is this willingness to try, fail, and learn that will enable us to fulfill the promise of American education — to educate black students, Latinx students, Asian students, white students, and students of all races to the level they deserve.

Jim Schwartz is an Oak Park resident, an educator, and a blogger at Entwining.org.

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Kevin Peppard  

Posted: February 9th, 2020 1:41 PM

Eric: Here's an example of a teacher trying to teach students of widely varying backgrounds in a single class setting. Village Trustee Dan Moroney taught English as a member of the Peace Corps in Poland (he talks about that in his podcast interview on "Common Ground" with D200 Board Member Matt Baron). He had students who could carry on a fluent conversation mixed with students who had to haltingly go through written English. No one was well served. I suppose the ultimate test would be to understand an off-color joke and make a snappy comeback. That wouldn't be done in Oxfordian English. Or to blitz through reading Time Magazine and critique the coverage. For an American learning German, for instance, you would have to know what a German thinks is an American accent and get rid of it. What does a German "hillbilly" sound like (he speaks Swabian)? Such classes must be highly differentiated by student background. One size does not fit all. It fits none.

Eric Friedman  

Posted: February 9th, 2020 10:56 AM

@John, your post surprised me how you interpreted the study I cited earlier in this comment thread. I thought the study clearly conflicts with the D200's plan for de-tracking, but you seem to think otherwise. Regardless of this one study, I reviewed a lot of the research on de-tracking, and it was clearly very mixed. When the district is citing only the research that supports their plan, this is clearly cherry-picking studies rather than fairly describing the evidence. Similarly, the data on Evanston's experience seems mixed about whether the changes were good or bad?"some data pointing to problems is at https://www.thee3group.org/aag2. I haven't seen evidence suggesting that Evanston was successful at the dramatic improvements originally promised; if they were so successful, I'd think they'd be broadcasting that data everywhere. Meanwhile, @Jason makes a fair point when asking the common sense question about how a single teacher in a class with multiple levels of understanding can actually teach all those levels with everyone combined. It is a fair question that hasn't been addressed well. We deserve a better answer. Until then, skepticism will persist.

Jim Frenkel  

Posted: February 7th, 2020 4:41 PM

And give me a break--- referencing "meta-analyses of instructional strategies?!!" @John should realize that, this being OP, many of us are equally overeducated, and aren't easily wowed by such mumbo jumbo jargon.

Jim Frenkel  

Posted: February 7th, 2020 4:37 PM

@John cites a lot of studies that at best call into question whether tracking is best for all. What lacks sorely from his rather longwinded response to the concerns of all about Schwartz' opinion piece is the answer to our collective question: "HOW EXACTLY IS THIS NEW SYSTEM ACTUALLY GOING TO WORK?!!" How are already underresourced classrooms going to balance the workload? How do we know that the new approach will actually not make things WORSE? The devil is in the details, folks. And OPRF is doing a poor job of explaining them.

John Duffy  

Posted: February 7th, 2020 12:31 PM

The D 200 Strategic Plan Task Force on Teaching and Learning (2017), which set the teacher self-studies into action, found additional strong support for freshman re-structuring in John Hattie's meta-analysis of instructional strategies in the collection Visible Learning. Even Timothy Shanahan, the Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Reading at U of I Chicago, when reviewing research supported literacy learning at a community education session in River Forest in December, spoke favorably for research backing D 200 equity work with freshman courses. In fact, ability grouped classrooms have no support in major reports on student learning?"see our own local scholar Arthur Hyde's highly praised volume Best Practice: Bringing Standards to Life in America's classroom (4th edition) which points to tracking as an obstacle to student learning across content disciplines for K-12 students. I invite Mr. Schwartz to join any one of many racial equity support groups who have participants from both Oak Park and River Forest.

John Duffy  

Posted: February 7th, 2020 12:24 PM

Our teacher's focused equity review of required freshman courses confirmed what an extensive body of research including a 40 year review of tracking (see D 200's Access for ALL webpage) supports. Achievement gains from curriculum organization of high, middle and low students and course, which are defended as best for all students, are not supported in research. Even the 100 year review of research Mr. Friedman refers in his post reaches conclusions that are supportive of the reform work now going on at OPRFHS. That review posits at least 4 striking findings, none of which contradict the rationale for and developing design of the re-structured freshman curriculum. First, the review concluded that traditional ability grouped curriculum into high achieving, middle achieving and low achieving courses and classrooms does not deliver on its intended goal of promoting achievement gains by all students. Second, the research found support for programs that draw upon students across age and grade levels. Third, it suggests grouping and re-grouping learners as needed in classrooms benefits learners. Fourth, the reviewers suggest special programs for the gifted and talented benefits those students' growth. I would add that as far as I could see, none of this research took into account the racialized structures of American education that were central to American schools during the 20th century and that still persist too often today. Regarding the review's conclusion on gifted level courses, D 200's gifted offerings are embodied in the extensive Advanced Placement course offerings from sophomore through senior year. D 200 A.P. courses, as others have noted, have grown over the years gradually increasing the racial diversity of students enrolled.

John Duffy  

Posted: February 7th, 2020 12:23 PM

Thank you Mr. Schwartz for your thoughtful comments on D 200's Freshman Re-structuring curriculum reform project. Indeed, efforts at racial equity have always divided communities and generated fears of loss by many, especially Whites. Open housing in Oak Park met with widespread, often virulent White opposition over 50 years ago. Today, the multiple causes of housing segregation persist, and many parts of our community have limited racial diversity. Yet, the will to act 3 generations ago, despite doubts and fears from Whites, combined with rooting out long standing racist practices of realtors, apartment owners and financial institutions helped make possible our community's aspiration to live race relations in a different way than what we did in the first six decades of the 20th century. What I would add to your call for courage and equity is that The Freshman re-structuring plan derives from a racial equity analysis and subsequent findings by teams of teachers from each academic division. Their review had been proposed first in 2003, and called for in subsequent D 200 proclamations, including the Strategic Plan adopted in 2017.

Christopher Bell  

Posted: February 6th, 2020 4:18 PM

@ Jim. You are right as this is one of the most though provoking/ insightful threads have seen in quite a while. The reality is we need every black/brown/white child to succeed. Our standard of living and our standing in the global economy is under duress. Just go to any top 50 university and half of students are Chinese/Indian etc. My son says there are hyper competitive (that's coming from somewhat competitive Oak Park) and are relentless ...

Jason Cohen  

Posted: February 6th, 2020 3:39 PM

I am skeptical about the teachers ability to manage a course load for such varying degrees of skill level but the data out of Evanston seems positive. Some here have said it's going very poorly in Evanston but I haven't seen any data that represents this in my admittedly quick online searching. https://www.evanstonian.net/in-depth/2019/04/26/data-shows-increased-student-achievement/

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: February 6th, 2020 2:23 PM

It is always nice to refresh reading the article again when posting and it seem's that White's have a responsibility of teaching people of other race's. The Census Bureau is projecting the White race will be in the minority between 2040 to 2050. If we take that projection, White's will no longer be able to sell the idea they have a burden to bear and we can all turn to helping each other not based on race because whatever race you are, the job market is going to be very difficult to find a job that is going to pay anything more than the new base level pay. Since data is always being used as justifying why more money needs to be spent to educate students instead of just educating by teacher's who know how to educate the whole person, then get the data out from 10 years ago that the school wanted money for, and show what the results of that data is. It is obvious it must have failed so show proof why more money is going to solve the very basic's of education. The school must have some teacher's who were raised in a diverse neighbor and can relate to all race's as people, and not just as a race. Oak Park is great at talking about race, and it seems the only reason is, is to put Oak Park on the map for the Country to admire. Get in those classrooms and understand each student so you can reach each student on how to give each student knowledge. If you need more teacher's, then I am all for it. I am not for more impersonal data that is being sold so educator's can use it as an excuse of why student's can not become educated at the same level. The State requires students to be taught to the age of 16 years of age. If there are still failing students going to school over the age of 16 years of age, they are obviously there for some reason. Stop the politics and get to the job of educating. This is not a competition, this is giving students a chance

Kevin Peppard  

Posted: February 6th, 2020 1:19 PM

Edwin Haag: American society's high productivity is paradoxically making our productivity growth slower. As robots and kiosks replace routine jobs, the low-hanging fruit is disappearing, leaving low wage jobs that are not easily automatable. Knowledge worker jobs are so productive that eventually there will be slow growth there, or they'll be sent overseas. Some radiologist in Mumbai is reading your ultrasound image now over the Internet. Other overseas workers are the new low-hanging fruit to be replaced. Artificial intelligence will replace some STEM jobs. The result is an increased.dichotomy in income and wealth distribution. Governments can command the independent tides of economic, social, political and technological forces to turn back, but King Canute knew that those tides have minds of their own. We are using a nineteenth century paradigm for education. Our politicians are modern day Luddites and will watch their dreams fade away by forces they cannot control. My fear: A replay of the Weimar Republic's collapse. We have a President who is trying to inflame and capitalize on that smoldering discontent.that exists in America. Oak Park is but small change in the game.

Jim Frenkel  

Posted: February 6th, 2020 12:13 PM

Wow. This conversation has grown since I last checked in-- and in a very thoughtful, robust, AND dare I say it-- respectful way! My sense is that every single commenter on this article believes that working towards better opportunities for all of our kids is an important outcome, but not at the cost of hurting one group at the expense of the other nor, perhaps more importantly, by putting them at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to the job market when they're out of this bubble we call OP. There's no question that the outcomes are currently unequal but-- as a least most commenters on this thread seem to feel -- de-tracking seems like a strategy that is dubious at best.

Edwin Haag  

Posted: February 6th, 2020 12:09 PM

As our societies advance, the cognitive divide will only become greater. 150 years ago, the farmer with an IQ of 120 didn't make much more than the farmer with an IQ of 85. In the 1950's, the 85 IQ person could run a press or other very repeatable task and afford a modest home and send his kids to a public university. Today, the modern workplace has replaced those jobs with robots, kiosks, etc. So the guy/gal with the 120 IQ today is running a hedge fund, coding, a physician, etc and essentially making exponentially more than those with lower IQ's. I'm not sure what the answer is, but the path Oak Park schools are on is not making it any better.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: February 6th, 2020 10:53 AM

Christopher Bell Thank you for your compliment. The minimum wage moving to 15 or 16 dollar's per hour will be the intentionally new standard living wage. That is only to adjust for the new economy. Technology is being developed to make self driving vehicle's to remove the cost of paying a driver. Technology is coming out of other country's because it cost multi billion dollar companies less money by investing in education outside of the U.S..The value's of STEM is limited to a few who are creative enough to be valuable to a company in the U.S.. The masses will live on the minimum wage. Technology will replace order fillers and delivering products. A global market work's against each other by educational level's and since global average income rate is very low compared to the U.S., it is a smarter move for major U.S. companies to invest in education in other countries to produce STEM workers who will work for less money. We can not produce products at a lower price because we can not compete in the income level. Technology, 5G network is going to move the process for automation faster in our Country. There will be no Lyft job's with self driving car's. Products can be delivered without a human being. Orders will be filled with automation. All major profession's are being driven to lower costs. Just 40 year's ago who would have thought newspaper's who would going out of business by news on the computer, which is not profitable and requires a lot less employees.The economy has gone in a direction that only a few can understand it and project where it is going. When people talk about Amazon not paying taxes and it is very successful, it is because they are taking the profit and reinvesting to dominate the entire market. Education is always good, although it does not always guarantee a job in the career and income you expect. A good executive knows never to rock the boat, do very little and retire with a very nice package of benefits

Kevin Peppard  

Posted: February 6th, 2020 8:13 AM

Christopher Bell: STEM and globalization are where it's at. During the tumult on the Pool, an Oak Park consultant spoke to the D200 Board. He said (paraphrased): "We're not competing with New Trier. Our children are competing with teenagers in New Delhi and Beijing.and getting their clock cleaned. Those other countries don't care about Olympic-sized swimming pools or self-esteem. Their bragging rights are about academic achievement. This is a global economy based on knowledge workers." The D200 Board sat in humbled silence, hiding behind the mantra "This is not intended to be a dialogue with the Board." The consultant is an American Caucasian, and works for an Indian international IT firm. He has an ABD (All But Dissertation) in Economics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Monica Sheehan immediately went over and button-holed him, and we had him visit Pragmatic Solutions, since he had articulated our points succinctly. Like many talented people here, he was too busy to get involved in the drudgery of local civic affairs. And so the clueless continue to run our local schools, advised by outside consultants who incestuously are past school administrators and the like, and know how to game the system. They advise on what can be done, not on what should be. Their orientation is toward maximizing cash, not on balancing that with taxpayer concerns. "Those things that are best" should emphasize "Those." Having multiple priorities means having none.

Christopher Bell  

Posted: February 6th, 2020 6:59 AM

@ Tommy enjoy your comments. Most of job growth is low wage that cannot sustain family in large city (uber, amazon etc) with clear separation for knowledge workers (STEM, etc.) this is why it is critical that kids get the very best education possible ... 31% of millinals still count on parents to survive - this is no surprise ...

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: February 5th, 2020 7:58 PM

Christopher Bell there is not the same work available that there use to be. Today's job's are driving for lyft, delivering food or product's, filling order's for online company's, or if you want a bigger income, you become a teacher and hope you get hired at D200, or you get into politic's. Medical is always good, although it is controlled by business people, and those job's are difficult to get. The old saying was when factory's were going to automation, people said what about my job, and the answer was, the machine's need to be repaired. That only required 1 person for 10 machine's so 10 ten people who went back to school to learn how to repair the machine, 9 people did not get a job. Most all job's are outsourced, and in India, an average income of 400 dollar's is enough. Not a lot, although enough, and those company's hire young people to start, and by the time the person gets into their middle 40's they are let go, and have no retirement or social security. When we talk about global economy, you have to understand that the people who are paid, are not being paid what we would thing they would be. Our law's allow people from other country's to come into the U.S., and work, at a wage the employer want's to pay, and not at a U.S. competitive wage that would be based on the American worker's pay. Then there is so much talk about people going into their own business. That does not work, because you can not have everyone in their own business, or you end up just trading dollar's. Even in the 60's there were a lot of people with degree's who were flipping hamburger's. Selecting the right profession need's projection to wage you best bet for employment, and that should be part taught in Middle School, and reinforced in High School, so student's have a goal to aim for which give's purpose to the meaning of becoming educated

Christopher Bell  

Posted: February 5th, 2020 7:28 PM

@ Tommy you are spot on. The deep and meaningful irony is that students now complete with others on global level. When I finished OPRF you could go to work for GM, post office or many other jobs and enjoy a middle class life. Our kids need the very best education possible - layer global competition on the declining middle class (61% in 1980 and 43% of pop today) -plus all the management consultants that decimated middle managers. The bottom line is our kids our first generation that standard of living may decline. For better or worse, OPRF failure is dooming some to life of poverty ... under employment

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: February 5th, 2020 6:06 PM

Christopher Bell, I am more supportive to your way of thinking then you may realize although even student's of color who have gone through the Oak Park education from grammar school reach high school and then for some reason there is an achievement gap. This is from some one who was superintendent so this struggle has been going on for decade's. The educator's are not smart enough to figure it out although I had no problem with the student's when I gave a lecture at the school. I asked for the student's attention, and once I had it, they all listened. I noticed some of the teacher's in the room seemed to be taken back with my approach, although my approach was learned elsewhere which I knew how to relate to the student's. This is step one, that no software can teach. You have to be able to reach all level's to be able to relate because at high school age, student's naturally can be rebellious. Working with that, and working through everything else, takes the ability of becoming a Chameleon, not to deceive, only to be very honest with each student. We all were students at one time, and what I do not understand is what the school is really expecting out of the student. Some where the idea of basic education with the opportunities to move to a challenging level of education has been lost when I think some business person with a pack load of software convince some one at the school that they can get better grade's out of their student's and when they do, they will be recognized and be able to command whatever salary they wanted after it happened. If that really happened, it sure has not made any difference from what I read about the high school and that is to bad for the student's who need the education because there is not a big call any longer for a lot of people to dig ditches. Those jobs have gone high tech

Christopher Bell  

Posted: February 5th, 2020 4:55 PM

Please don't take the tone and tenor of my comments to mean I am not supportive of any program that actually drives results for students who have been marginalized. No question, kids need the help. Just starting this without intervention at early age, heavy support etc. will hurt for the very students they are trying to help. Again, I have 50 year view of OPRF so my POV is grounded in actually going to OPRF and having black nieces, nephews, cousins and sons go thru the system ...

Christopher Bell  

Posted: February 5th, 2020 4:48 PM

@ tommy was using hyperbole ... but this question is far deeper than just clustering all the students. My point is the only way to make it thru those classes well is be naturally smart OR work your ass off. Students must be motivated ...and supported to succeed. study habits, keeping up with pace, etc will be just as important and can't be taught in 2 weeks.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: February 5th, 2020 4:32 PM

Christopher Bell that is a long stretch to write there are student's with 150 plus IQ's. Those student's would not plowing along in high school level classes. Trying to get a middle average does not work with people. Data can show a middle average when you divide the difference with upper and lower testing. You wrote the answer, and that was you learned that education opened more door's for you then you could realize. The average in the 60's and 70's for home work was 3 hour's for student's who wanted to attain a higher grade level so not much has changed. What has changed is the demographic's of student's and that has not been addressed because you have educator's from opposite environment's when you need leader's who come from a diverse background.who grew up learning both side's and be able to understand how to work with student's from all background's. No software is every going to duplicate that type of education

Christopher Bell  

Posted: February 5th, 2020 4:12 PM

@ Jim agree completely. You will have students with 150 plus IQ in class with kids who frankly don't want to be there. OPRF secret sauce/differientator is it excels at top and bottom tiers. This strategy is based upon raising the middle .... rather than that... focus on bringing more into top tier (limited), then focus on bringing more of bottom to middle ... phased approach

Christopher Bell  

Posted: February 5th, 2020 4:02 PM

The other subtle point is accelerated coursework requires significant homework/ effort as well. Many students spend 3-5 hours of homework for those classes. Also, in college admissions, top tier schools look at rigor of school and coursework. will be interesting as well. My mom always taught us that the best helping hand is at end of your arm and the ONLY thing we have as blacks is academic excellence - can't refute it and it opened unbelievable doors for me. The hard fact is everyone cant be equal - hard work/sacrifice should be rewarded. Does not mean others who need help should not get it - NOT mutually exclusive.

Jim Frenkel  

Posted: February 5th, 2020 3:44 PM

And to add 2 things to my comment below -- there are 27 kids in this class I reference below (too many in my opinion) and yes they do get tested on the content regardless of whether it is covered by the teacher in the class since it's part of the standardized testing that all IL high schoolers must take. The problem with Mr. Schwartz' argument is not that the goal of educational equity isn't good and right (it is!), the problem is that he's saying we should try something, anything, even if it's the wrong thing to get there.

Jim Frenkel  

Posted: February 5th, 2020 3:36 PM

Thank you, Jason!! My thoughts exactly. I know from stories told by my own daughter who is at OPRF now that it's tough enough to get individualized attention in her class that is grouped by track but has students ranging from juniors to very accelerated 8th graders from Brooks. Her teacher until recently had a student assistant to ease the workload, but that was changed (and no explanation given.) The end result is that many topics that should be covered in class simply aren't because the teacher runs out of time, which shifts the burden for teaching the subject content to the parents. This of course becomes a burden for parents who either don't have the time (because they're busy working) or expertise (because they don't have the level of education attainment needed-- or because the new way of teaching this stuff is different from when they were in school a century ago.) Detracking seems to further exacerbate the problem to me.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 5th, 2020 2:34 PM

Jason you are too kind. To expect a single teacher in a class with multiple levels of understanding to actually successfully teach to all those levels is not plausible. This is the OPRF community jumping down the rabbit hole en mass. It is an exercise in absurdity. Indeed, this is the proverbial race to the bottom.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: February 5th, 2020 1:53 PM

Jim Schwartz, you write excellent are obviously are an educated person. What people who have not been fortunate enough to grow up in a diverse neighborhood, is how people are. Instead you rely on data. Your intentions are all good, although it will not work. I am not good with English, and with writing skills although I thought there was something wrong with you writing black and white, and capitalizing Asian and Latinx. So I checked, and the result is, "Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, 8.39, p. 402. However, according to APA, racial and ethnic groups are designated by proper nouns and are capitalized: Black and White". Now if I have that much respect for each race being properly addressed, I do not understand why you would not capitalize the Black and White race. Sure it is a minor mistake, although you are educated and my respect was learned in a very different environment. It all start's with respect and learning culture. In no way do I mean to be disrespectful to you. I appreciate your education although what you are proposing has been done over and over. Go to the real source. Ask people of all race's who lived in a tougher environment how they made it happen. That is the data I want to know, not some company who wants to sell another product

Eric Friedman from Oak Park  

Posted: February 5th, 2020 1:46 PM

I'm for equity, but not the specific changes planned for Oak Park and River Forest High School. Unfortunately, the research on de-tracking is not as strong as the author contends. There's a lot of research suggesting that the changes planned are likely to produce bad results. For example, the research paper "What One Hundred Years of Research Says About the Effects of Ability Grouping and Acceleration on K?"12 Students' Academic Achievement: Findings of Two Second-Order Meta-Analyses" says "The preponderance of existing evidence accumulated over the past century suggests that academic acceleration and most forms of ability grouping like cross-grade subject grouping and special grouping for gifted students can greatly improve K?"12 students' academic achievement" (http://www.k12accountability.org/resources/Gifted-Education/GT_Review_of_Ed_Research_Meta_Analysis.pdf). Another research piece, "The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Past, present, and future," says "Many teachers (43%) agree that their classes have become so mixed in terms of students' learning abilities that they can't teach them effectively, compared to 24% of principals who agree. In the 2008 MetLife Survey, more secondary teachers (49%) agree with this statement than elementary teachers (40%)" (https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED504457.pdf). These are not the only piece suggesting harm from de-tracking. The more I learn about how they're planning to implement, the more clear it becomes that de-tracking is not the best solution for equity or excellence.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: February 5th, 2020 1:20 PM

The thing that I struggle to understand is how a single teacher in a class with multiple levels of understanding can actually teach all those levels with everyone combined. I can definitely see this working if there was maybe a student teacher in each class so there can be focus wherever it's needed. I just don't see how in a setting where one teacher has to address the whole class that they can do this when the teaching needed is going to deal with such a wide understanding range. This isn't a knock on the end goal just the ability for this to effectively get to that goal and not bring anyone down as some are brought up. There seems to be some real mixed info out of Evanston so I find it hard to say that program was effective but I hope that's the case.

Steve Lefko  

Posted: February 5th, 2020 11:22 AM

Evanston is still reeling from a failed attempt at detracking as an equity strategy. Find facts on this from Evanston data here. https://www.thee3group.org/aag2 It's curious the administration didn't bring three options as planned, and keep avoiding questions on the Equal Opportunity Schools (EOS) program. I've attended every D200 information session and open house and without fail someone asks about EOS. EOS, known also as Huskie Scholar Academy was a recent equity initiative that increased access to higher level curricula and reduced the opportunity gap by a staggering 20% in one year. The most recent answer at the December community meeting: "that program targeted AP classes and we're talking about honors". It's been asked at every other meeting for good reason ?" it's a curricular equity initiative that preserved choice and worked. EOS dramatically increased access of minority students to AP curricula by building trust between school and family/student, breaking down stereotypes, letting students know they're not alone in this endeavor and it includes summer and in-school supports. Choice is essential to the EOS strategy. The gap between white and black students declined from 28% in 2016/2017 before the program to 22% in 2017/2018 after just one year of the program. Lean more facts about the success of EOS at OPRF here. https://www.thee3group.org/post/ap-first-timers-thrive-in-oprf-huskie-scholar-academy-opportunity-gap-drops-by-20 I hope we can balance emotion and urgency with empirical results. We should all support equity. And we should all support initiatives supported by successful example. I'd urge this administration to revisit the pledge to bring three discrete equity initiatives into the discussion and include EOS. Further, I think this community deserves full transparency on why the board and new administration decided not to expand the EOS initiative.

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