Teachers make schools great
By Sho Maruyama
The sentence “The fact is, schools become great only if engaged parents make it happen” was highlighted in the text of Caryn Ernst’s April 4 commentary on the D.C. schools, “A recipe for more choice schools in D.C.”
Notably, however, this commentary appeared soon after the March 31 obituary of Jaime Escalante, an educational pioneer for his work in guiding poor Hispanic students to success on the tough Advanced Placement test in calculus and other subjects. Frequently, his students were being raised by uneducated or illiterate parents, and their scores amazed and dumbfounded national testers. The popular movie “Stand and Deliver” made his accomplishments famous — but obviously to no avail. We still blame students for their inability to learn, not their teachers for not teaching them.
The conclusion one can come to from Mr. Escalante’s accomplishments is that poor children, with or without breakfast; with or without books, newspapers, magazines at home; with or without decent classrooms can and will learn — if they are taught. And if they do not learn, they were not taught.
On far too many occasions, news articles present the circumstances of students’ home lives or the horrible conditions of their schools as a justification for why they have not learned to read or write and do math. No doubt such conditions make learning more difficult, but great teachers are still able to teach. When schools are able to attract and keep more great teachers like Mr. Escalante, our students will learn.
| April 12, 2010; 9:51 AM ET
Categories: D.C., HotTopic, schools | Tags: Caryn Ernst, D.C. schools, Jaime Escalante, Sho Maruyama, “Stand and Deliver”
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