To the Editor:
In response to Jack Schneider’s Commentary “What Is ‘Excellence for All’? Meeting Kids Where They Are—Not Where We Wish They Were” (Jan. 27, 2010):
The author’s belief that college-readiness reforms equate to nothing more than “hype” for some of our neediest students is a simplistic view that schools simply don’t need right now. The fact is that the nation’s public schools are failing, and our society is becoming educationally weaker with each passing year. Why? Because far too many have attempted to lower the bar to “meet kids where they are,” rather than raise it to bring them where they need to be.
College-readiness initiatives, while not perfect, are our best attempt to raise the bar and shift the cycle of poverty for millions of children in this country. Will every student make it to college as a result of this work? Not likely, but how exactly would we decide which students deserve an education that promotes college and which ones don’t? Because it is impossible to make such judgments, especially for young children, we must find a way to tap into the college potential of each student.
As Mr. Schneider points out, different kids do have different needs. What he fails to recognize, however, is that different kids also have some things in common, such as the will to be happy and successful. Let’s build a solid foundation for all students and start grooming them for a college education from the moment they start kindergarten. Because, in the end, it is far better for us to strive for greatness than it is to settle for mediocrity.
No Excuses University Network
A version of this article appeared in the March 10, 2010 edition of Education Week as Keep Expectations High For Students in Poverty