To the Editor:
Karin Chenoweth’s Commentary “‘It’s Being Done’” (April 11, 2007) describes an amazing array of schools and students who are beating the odds.
Each school she profiles serves as a role model for hundreds of others around the country. Theoretical hindrances like poverty, discrimination, teacher burnout, and the invasion of electronics into students’ home lives do serve as obstacles, but should not be used as excuses. Unfortunately for students in failing schools, they’re not the ones using these excuses—it is their communities and the nation.
We can no longer afford to say that these students and these schools cannot achieve because of X, Y, or Z. We cannot afford to let thousands upon thousands of capable young people slip though the cracks of our education system simply because we could not find a way to educate them. We as a society cannot continue to blame poverty, discrimination, and television for our failures. Teachers and administrators must make the change, beginning with taking responsibility for the students we have failed.
We must hold ourselves accountable not just for teaching, but for teaching well. And we must hold students accountable for learning by having high expectations and believing in their ability to succeed. As Ms. Chenoweth demonstrates, these changes are not too much to ask.
A version of this article appeared in the May 09, 2007 edition of Education Week as ‘It’s Being Done’ Schools Should Serve as Models