I agree with Brittany Packnett’s call for sharing responsibility for a just educational system. Her voice is one of many within Teach for America and across the nation engaged in blunt debates about academically underperforming children in our schools and our responses to their plight.
Unfortunately, her call to “move away” from the “achievement gap” is comparable to sweeping a huge problem under the rug. It is an invitation to racial exceptions that may accelerate the re-segregation of schools, lower expectations and inadvertently perpetuate educational mediocrity in some school districts.
Given the crisis in American public education, the temptation is great to “move away” from the brutal facts and disparities or envision separate standards of academic excellence. We must avoid these false choices.
Standards of academic excellence are neither white nor black. They are global. Communities and children must compete in a global economy. High dropout rates, low graduation rates, poor academic achievement scores and functional illiteracy mean thousands of children in our communities can neither compete nor take full advantage of incredible economic and social opportunities. (St. Louis American)