Barton’s central method states that even though schools are becoming less segregated and equal in the access to a similar standard education for all, there still isn’t equality in academic achievement amongst white and minority students. Even though minority children are provided the same education as white children, the achievement gap is steadily increasing between the two groups. This achievement gap amongst minority students, reflects inequalities among 14 factors that correlate to their schooling, early life, and home circumstances.
Throughout this article, Barton analyzes these factors, goes over the research and statistics connected to them, and offers solutions that will help reduce the gap. The Development Environment I didn’t know that low birthweights could lead to delayed or impaired cognitive and physical development. What was even more alarming was the fact that black infants were twice as much at risk than white infants. Although the article didn’t really give any statistics as to why this occurs, I would have to take a guess this is due to the fact that minorities don’t have as good of healthcare as whites do.
Until the beginning of this school year, I didn’t think that lead poisoning was such a big concern. However, once I noticed that four out of fourteen of my students on my caseload were poisoned by lead, I realized how much of a concern it really is. As I started to research the symptoms and the effects that it has on the brain, I was amazed by how much damage this poisoning does and how it hinders a student’s ability to process and remember information.
Since mostly all of the minorities live in urban areas, it is obvious to see that they are most effected because the majority of these urban homes were built before 1946. As the white baby boomers populated (in the 1950’s era), they drastically expanded america’s suburban areas with the new construction of homes. Therefore, it is obvious to see that it is not as big of an issue facing their communities. In order to combat malnourishment in children, more programs should be created to aid families in obtaining nutritious food as well as an abundance of it.
In my opinion, we should also teach and emphasize the importance of nutrition and dietary education. I feel that if parents knew the benefits of a well balanced nutritious meal, how to make them, and have access to affordable fruits and vegetables, malnutrition would no longer be a problem that our country is facing. Home Learning Conditions It is definitely evident that when children are read to at an earlier age, they have an advanced opportunity to expand their vocabulary as well as build their own literacy skills.
I am currently trying my best to incorporate more oral reading in my students’ curriculum as well as inform the parents of the importance of early reading with all of their children. What I try to do is involve the families by encouraging them to read to their children on a regular basis. I also encourage them to take their children the libraries or join after school programs that help our students with reading. Factors that Correlate with Student Achievement As a teacher, I need to be aware of the family/parent situation of my students.
In knowing this I can support the student and family in whatever way possible. One such support is including homework time within the daily curriculum. Homework helps to reiterate and support subjects and topics learned throughout the school day. In having a homework workshop at school, I can support my students if they are not able to receive this support at home. Student Mobility Student mobility is a problem that I, as an educator, am not sure how to either resolve or improve.
If I were to set up my classroom in a Montessori type setting, the exchange of students throughout the year wouldn’t matter much. Unfortunately, most schools are quite linear and work from point A to point Z. Maybe if all schools took on the Montessori approach to teaching children, and teach to children according to their individual levels and needs as we should, then student mobility wouldn’t be a disruption to the school or classroom environment. Student and family mobility is an issue that needs to be resolved at the societal level.
Just as in some of the former headings have mentioned, people of minorities need to have access to affordable and adequate housing, healthcare and groceries. In addition, adequate employment and more flexible immigration laws need to be available to all minorities so that it is less likely that families will pack up and migrate to a new area. The Home-School Connection I have witnessed the importance of the home-school connection at my own school. The students, no matter what race, who are the high achievers have highly invested parents. I am in a K-8 school setting and I work in the Middle School area.
Although there isn’t a lot of opportunity for parents to be directly involved in the classroom, the teachers are highly consistent in their contact with parents in regards to positive and negative behavior with students. The students whose parents are consistently responsive to both types of feedback are the ones who achieve growth in their academics and social behaviors. It is a difficulty to not only create opportunities for parents to be involved at their children’s school but to also encourage them to attend. At my school, students come from all over the Milwaukee area, from the far south side to the northwest side.
Obviously, transportation is a factor when it comes to minority parent involvement. Providing busing for school events may aide in higher parent involvement. Another lack in parent involvement may be investment in education. Some parents may not have had much emphasis on the importance of education in their own lives so this attitude may be passed onto their children. School Factors I can personally relate to what Barton wrote concerning minority children being taught by inexperienced teachers (5 years or less of teaching experience).
Due to the shortage of special education teachers, Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) has been recruiting people with little to no background in education to become teachers. Although it is highly beneficial for someone like myself who is interested in becoming a teacher but it may not be fair or beneficial for the group of students who most need and deserve highly experience teachers. Not only is there a gap in achievement between white and non-white students but according to MPS data there is also a growing gap between regular and special education students (which seems to almost be one in the same special education=minority).
Another factor that Barton brought up that I also feel is highly important is classroom size. In having few students in classrooms, we as teachers are better able to individualize teaching, thoroughly explore topics and provide more opportunities for individual and small group project work. With larger classroom sizes, there is little time or occasion for teachers to work one-on-one with all students. For many students, that intimate teaching time is necessary for complete comprehension.
Where to Begin? In this section, Barton reiterated all the factors he discussed formally in his article. I believe we as a society and as educators need to emphasis the educational needs and achievements in minority students. Some of my suggestions may seem ideal and unobtainable but they are jumping off points for brainstorming leading to action. I feel that Barton brought forth important factors that should be a “wake up call” for all teachers in urban schools working with minority students.