Since there has been so much discussion in this forum about the racial achievement gap, I asked Kim Shipp, a parent who attended the summit in Sacramento, to tell us her impressions of the event. -Katy
No Gaps in Achievement Gap Summit, by Kim Shipp
In an effort to try to describe my experience at the Achievement Gap Summit, I came up with a metaphor by asking myself, “What is the difference between a circus and a carnival?”
A circus is where you sit and enjoy the performances, and everyone is usually experiencing the same thing, while a carnival is where you participate with the goal of having fun, and your experience can be as individual as your participation. So I would have to say that my experience at the Achievement Gap Summit was like that of being at a carnival.
There were lots of people in attendance (over four thousand, to be exact), over a hundred workshops to choose from, more than a half dozen keynote speakers, lots of meals and snacks, all in less than a 48-hour period. Needless to say there was little time for rest or sleeping. It was a festive atmosphere, and I can honestly say that who’s who in education in California, along with a few politicians, were in attendance.
If I had to give the conference a theme, it would be “The Spirit of Man vs. The Spirit of Race(ism).” We saw the usual data on student achievement, and we heard about the need to examine practices on how students are assessed. There was a debate about whether the achievement gap was caused by internal factors, such as the lack of rigorous standards or segregation, or by external factors, such as health care for children; mobility rates and economics.
By evening on the first day, it seemed like the conversation turned from the outer causes of the achievement gap, such as policies, data, or the lack thereof, to the inner causes: What do we as human beings have within ourselves to impart the value of education to the children we are serving? Read the rest of this entry »