"Our educational arenas have forgotten about what has made us tick… We have forgotten about family values, community and that it takes a village to raise a child…
Some time ago… teachers took the time to methodically walk us down the path that we needed to go. Unfortunately, those individuals are hard to find these days…
We lost that personal touch, time and commitment to other human beings. We just text and float by, not worrying about connecting.
This book was written to help families and policymakers follow a road map [towards] humane educational, community and societal goals that create a better quality of life."
Excerpted from the Introduction (pgs. 6-7)
I don't need to cite the shameful statistics showing how badly the woeful, urban public schools are failing black and Latino kids all across the country. In Atlanta, morale apparently deteriorated to the point that teachers, principals and administrators gave up trying to teach students, and simply conspired to raise test scores by erasing incorrect answers on tests during staff-only, after hour pizza parties.
Donnell Tenner is one academic who hasn't yet thrown in the towel. In fact, he's written an opus offering a profusion of solutions. Entitled "240 Ways to Close the Achievement Gap: Action Points for Salvaging the Futures of Black and Latino Students," the book might best be described as a socially-progressive guide chock full of common sense suggestions.
The problem is that in these days of cost-cutting and downsizing, I'm not sure where well-intentioned school districts would even turn for funding if they were interested in implementing some of the author's altruistic ideas. But let's put the question of money to the side and simply take a look exactly what Mr. Tenner is proposing.
For example, he suggests that teachers, "Provide extra help as needed." Nobody's going to argue with that, but there's a powerful union that will insist on extra pay for any overtime. He also proposes decreasing class size. Again, this would be an excellent step in the right direction, but it ain't free.
In a chapter on nutrition, he backs the expansion of the federal free breakfast and free lunch programs. While hungry kids' performance would undoubtedly improve on full stomachs, are we, as a debt-riddled nation, inclined to invest in them in this fashion?
But wait, there's more! Tenner would not only guarantee universal, pre-school education from the age of 3, but he'd provide "clothing and supplies for families who are poor," because "children cannot focus on academic achievement if they are hungry or cold."
Whether an impractical pipe dream or a viable solution, there's no doubt that Donnell Tenner is a visionary who has crafted a bold blueprint for a new and improved public educational system in America.