No Excuses

Richard Rothstein has an excellent article, Whose Problem is Poverty, in the current issue of Educational Leadership. The article is also available on the ASCD webite.  He writes:

Promoters of the myth that schools alone can overcome social and economic causes of low achievement assert that claims to the contrary let schools “off the hook.” But their myth itself lets political and corporate officials off a hook. We absolve these leaders from responsibility for narrowing the pervasive inequalities of American society by asserting that good schools alone can overcome these inequalities. Forget about health care gaps, racial segregation, inadequate housing, or income insecurity. If, after successful school reform, all adolescents regardless of background could leave high school fully prepared to earn middle class incomes, there would, indeed, be little reason for concern about contemporary inequality. Opportunities of children from all races and ethnic groups, and of rich and poor, would equalize in the next generation solely as a result of improved schooling. This absurd conclusion follows from the “no excuses” approach.

Writing specifically to teachers of poor children, he argues:

Educators cannot be effective if they make excuses for poor student performance. But they will have little chance for success unless they also join with advocates of social and economic reform to improve the conditions from which children come to school.

Many other authors admonish teachers  to take up the cause of justice and  equity.  Rothstein simply continues to  make these arguments more coherently and clearly than just about anyone else.

Thanks to Brian at In Practice for the link.