Don's Beliefs

Don's Beliefs

The ugly core at the center of the achievement gap is this: We have allowed ourselves to be convinced that some children are destined for failure. As a society, we have accepted a paradigm that says that if you are academically successful it is because you are smart, studious, or both. And if you choose to fail, or were born into unfortunate circumstances, then there is nothing that could have been done.

We often hear that poverty is a barrier in education that cannot be overcome. We know that is just not true. Two of Minneapolis’ best schools are Harvest Prep Academy and Hiawatha Academy and those schools serve 99%+ kids of color, 95%+ free or reduced lunch kids, and yet their outcomes beat the state average by double digits every year. We know all kids can learn. We must hold high expectations for all of our children, support, and nurture them along the way and they can succeed. In fact, studies show that “high expectations … ranks second among school-level factors that impact student achievement.” We can no longer afford to have different expectations for different groups of kids.

In South Korea, teachers are referred to as “Nation Builders,” and it’s true. Everyone believes that EVERY child can learn, regardless of circumstances. We must do the same. This belief gap must be closed in America, and it all starts in the classroom. The single greatest influence on our children’s educational outcomes is the person standing in front of the classroom. We know great teaching can transform lives. We must ensure that every student walks into a classroom with a great teacher. We can no longer look at education as a form of service delivery, where teachers deliver lectures and if the students don’t get it, that’s on them. We must ensure that comprehension is the primary goal. Effort is not sufficient. We need to be focused on outcomes.