Equity & Diversity

Ed. Groups Urge ‘Whole-Child’ Approach to Counteract Poverty

By Denisa R. Superville — February 23, 2016 4 min read

Two K-12 initiatives that are launching this week aim to capitalize on the mounting support for taking a more holistic approach to educating poor children, a shift away from the view that has heavily emphasized that schools alone can counteract the effects of poverty.

Expected to be unveiled this week, the first effort is a new project from Harvard University’s Education Redesign Lab that is helping local city and school leaders link agencies responsible for children’s services—such as mayor’s offices, school systems, and social services agencies—to work together to address both in-school and out-of-school factors that affect student learning.

In the six cities that are participating—Oakland, Calif.; Louisville, Ky; Providence, R.I.; and Salem, Somerville, and Newton, Mass.— mayors will set up children’s cabinets to coordinate the efforts.

The second initiative is a re-launch of a “Broader, Bolder Approach to Education,” a group which first started in 2008 and has pushed for more comprehensive, “whole-child” strategies for educating students in poverty that was meant to be a counter-force to the “no-excuses” strategy, which tended to focus on reforms related to the teaching profession. Leaders of the group say there is new momentum for their policy agenda, including passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act which requires states and districts to judge schools’ success on a broader set of metrics than test scores.

More Than Schooling

The Harvard project, “By All Means: Redesigning Education to Restore Opportunity,” is headed by Paul Reville, the Education Redesign Lab’s director and a former education secretary in Massachusetts. He asserts that while standards-based reforms have improved overall academic performance, many of the performance gaps between some student subgroups remain, and, in some cases, have widened.

The idea was to think about the education of children as more than just schooling, said Reville, whose Education Redesign Lab is part of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.

“A basic, underlying belief of this initiative is ... schools alone, as currently conceived, are insufficient to do the job of educating all students for success,” Reville said.

“That seems like a radical statement,” he continued. “It isn’t that we haven’t made progress. But it is true that we are a long way from closing the achievement gaps that we set out very ambitiously to close at the onset of this education reform movement.”

The program will focus on four key areas. The first is personalized learning, with a kind of individualized education plan that addresses in-school and out-of-school needs of students, while the second is the integration of social, emotional, and health services so schools can respond to issues that arise that may affect a child’s ability to attend classes or pay attention when he or she gets there. The third area of emphasis is ensuring all students have access to enrichment activities when they are not in school, including after school and during the summer. A fourth area will be governance.

Without a comprehensive approach to address the range of challenges poor children face, the best education reforms will be futile, Reville said. He is also involved in the reboot of the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education, along with several other prominent figures in pre-K-12 policy and academia.

Elaine Weiss, the national coordinator of the Broader, Bolder group, said the re-launch was meant to shift the focus from calling attention to the “poverty-education connection, to emphasizing ... the specific policies and practices that would help mitigate those connections.”

The group calls for policymakers and educators to focus on early-childhood experiences, including the expansion of high-quality pre-K and state birth-to-5 systems; after-school and summer learning opportunities, which, the organization argues should be treated as a vital part of students’ education; and health and nutrition.

When it comes to in-school factors that need policy attention, the group calls for funding equity, improving teacher and principal quality, and more stringent accountability for charter schools.

‘Comprehensive Agenda’

The Broader, Bolder group also urges policymakers to address racial segregation and concentrated poverty in communities by promoting integration efforts and to seek community input when making education decisions.

Weiss said many such efforts don’t require additional funding, but a re-prioritization of how money is spent.

In announcing its re-newed campaign, the group will release case studies of communities that have taken a collaborative, comprehensive approach to educating children, including Vancouver, Wash., and East Durham, N.C.

“We need to see a comprehensive education agenda that really begins at birth, when kids start to learn,” Weiss said, “and goes all the way through; that takes into account [the entire] day, and marries the best evidence of what works for all kids, and, especially, to mitigate poverty’s effects, with critical input from folks on the ground in each community about what they need and what they can bring to the table.”

A version of this article appeared in the February 24, 2016 edition of Education Week as To Offset Poverty, Ed. Groups Urge ‘Whole-Child’ Approach

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
Interactive Learning Best Practices: Creative Ways Interactive Displays Engage Students
Students and teachers alike struggle in our newly hybrid world where learning takes place partly on-site and partly online. Focus, engagement, and motivation have become big concerns in this transition. In this webinar, we will
Content provided by Samsung
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Educator-Driven EdTech Design: Help Shape the Future of Classroom Technology
Join us for a collaborative workshop where you will get a live demo of GoGuardian Teacher, including seamless new integrations with Google Classroom, and participate in an interactive design exercise building a feature based on
Content provided by GoGuardian
School & District Management Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: What Did We Learn About Schooling Models This Year?
After a year of living with the pandemic, what schooling models might we turn to as we look ahead to improve the student learning experience? Could year-round schooling be one of them? What about online

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Equity & Diversity Opinion Trans Youth Are Under Attack. Educators Must Step Up
What can schools do in the face of the extreme hostility trans and gender-nonconforming young people now face across the country?
Harper B. Keenan & Z Nicolazzo
4 min read
A butterfly lands on balanced stones in front of tranquil waters and a sunset
Pict Rider/iStock/Getty images<br/>
Equity & Diversity Opinion When Does Educational Equity Become Educationally Unethical?
Equity stumbles into a truly gruesome place when educators are directed to shortchange students based on how they look or where they live.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Equity & Diversity Opinion Why More Teachers Need to See the Beauty and Brilliance in Black Girls
Black girls are often accused of being loud or having an attitude. We need teachers to change that harmful perspective, because it matters.
Bola Delano-Oriaran
5 min read
Black Girls Misunderstood
Shutterstock
Equity & Diversity Anti-Asian Violence: What Schools Should Start Doing About It
Asian-Americans are often erased from the curriculum and even from schools' social justice work. Five educators discuss how to change that.
The crowd at Hing Hay Park responds to speakers calls to "fight hate"and against the attacks, physical and verbal on Asian Americans during a rally to speak out against anti-Asian hate and violence on March 13, 2021 in Seattle.
A crowd at Hing Hay Park in Seattle protests physical and verbal attacks against Asian Americans during a rally earlier this month.
Alan Berner/The Seattle Times via AP