This article, Learning from schools that close opportunity gaps by Sarah E. LaCour, Adam York, Kevin Welner, Michelle Renée Valladares, and Linda Molner Kelley appeared in Phi Delta Kappan’s publication.
The article outlines ten “exemplary practices” recognized by the Schools of Opportunity project.
The ten steps are:
1. Broadening and enriching learning opportunities
2. Creating and maintaining a healthy school culture
3. Providing more and better learning time during the school year and summer
4. Using a variety of assessments designed to respond to student needs
5. Supporting teachers as professionals
6. Meeting the needs of students with disabilities in an environment that ensures challenge and support
7. Providing students with additional needed services and supports, including mental and physical health services
8. Creating a challenging and supported culturally relevant curriculum
9. Building on the strengths of language minority students and correctly identifying their needs
10. Sustaining equitable and meaningful parent and community engagement
One thing that was mentioned in the article but does not appear explicitly in the ten steps is, “Redefining excellence in public education”.
Before any of the ten steps are initiated in any school, it is imperative that we must first demand excellence in our system of public education and then define that excellence as being the discovery, development and direction of the natural gifts and talents that all children possess.
As well, this must not be measured by the achievement of any one group of individuals but by the ability of the individual to achieve success in their particular area of giftedness.
If a child is a gifted artist than success for that child is the ability to express through art that which cannot be expressed through language. This is not to discount the importance of language skills but to eleviate the stress of being able to express, in words, the feelings that generate the emotions one experiences throughout life’s situations.
By allowing our children the freedom of expression through the mode in which they feel most comfortable, we can effectively put an end to the self-hatred that is the basis of all the “ism’s” that divide us.
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