To the Editor:
Regarding the Commentary by Joan Jacobson about supplemental educational services, or SES, being a program with no regulations and no accountability (“Supplemental Educational Services—An Unregulated and Unproven NCLB Tutoring Program,” Dec. 14, 2011): Ms. Jacobson asked the reader to imagine all that can go wrong in implementing SES from the decade-old No Child Left Behind Act.
As a provider, I ask the reader to imagine school districts with millions in Title I monies and no provision for after-school tutoring for low-income minority students who are achieving behind their more affluent grade-level peers. Imagine a district somewhere that will not allow use of taxpayer facilities or partners for transportation for these deserving students.
Now, imagine a much-needed after-school program that is provided at lower cost than the school district could provide. Imagine students who are provided with academic support; a small-group setting with a teacher and/or aide; research-based curricula; a nutritional snack (one valued by the student); transportation; state-approved incentives based on attendance, performance, and behavior; and security and supervision in the at-risk hours of the afternoon.
Imagine a program that requires teachers and districts to assess students on grade-level criteria before and after a unit of instruction to measure progress on an individual learning plan (as required for SES providers by federal and state mandates).
Imagine that not all providers practiced unethical procedures as alleged by Ms. Jacobson. (States and districts have the ability to remove unethical providers from state-approved lists). Imagine providers who have had positive partnerships with districts, schools, and parents, and produced positive results on student achievement. Imagine helping students to succeed instead of moving on in instruction and leaving children behind. Imagine a whole generation of at-risk students being supported to graduate
SES is not a panacea, but it is obvious that more of the same in education will not work for today’s at-risk students. I agree with Doug Mesecar’s Letter to the Editor from Nov. 16, 2011: “Let’s not allow flawed analysis to lead to more low-income and minority children being denied the extra academic assistance their more affluent and less diverse peers can afford on their own.”
If school districts can’t and won’t offer these services on their own,then who will? As educators, we all need to be open to discussion of the problems and, for the sake of the children, find some common ground that works for them.
FDDOC (Fully Devoted Developer of Children) Inc.
The writer is a retired educator and a current SES provider in Louisiana and Arkansas.
A version of this article appeared in the January 25, 2012 edition of Education Week as Supplemental Educational Services Already Highly Regulated