Letters to the Editor

Your views in 200 words or less

Tag: achievement gap


EDUCATION: Teachers can only do so much for poor kids

I intend to save Ken Miller’s Your Voice, “Kids living in poverty have little chance at education” (TNT, 3-12), because to me, a retired teacher, it says it all why there is an achievement gap between students who are born and grow up in poverty and those who are fortunate to be born to more affluent families.

It is why I suspect that teachers, especially those who work with students who live in poverty, are reluctant to be judged in the end by how their students achieve, because teachers actually have no control over the parenting/lack thereof and the

Read more »


TACOMA: Gordon’s critic the one who ‘misses the target’

Re: “Important election, wrong candidate” (letter, 8-1)

I was present at the campaign kickoff at which the letter writer claims that Tacoma school board candidate Dexter Gordon “repeats the often made accusations suggesting minority students are somehow denied access to advanced programs in the Tacoma School District.”

Though Gordon never mentioned AP classes or minority students, I decided to check out this issue for myself and lo and behold, the Tacoma School District’s own report on the issue is on its website: www.tacoma.k12.wa.us. Click on ” Addressing the Achievement Gap” and then “Achievement Gap Report to the Community.”

Read more »


EDUCATION: Students learn in different ways

In in his Viewpoint (TNT, 3-29), Tacoma School Superintendent Art Jarvis assumes basic knowledge is best learned through critical thinking. He criticizes teacher Mike Jankanish’s viewpoint (TNT, 3-23) that claims learning core subjects is best through rote memorization and like methods.

Both men are incorrect in some areas. Jankanish assumes that core knowledge is best learned in one or two ways, and memorization is core to this. Jarvis assumes core knowledge is best learned through open-ended critical-thinking process.

Not all students learn through rote or critical thinking. Each has to be used together to build that sound foundation of knowledge.

Read more »


TACOMA: Same old ideas, same old failures

Why did Tacoma School Superintendent Art Jarvis (Viewpoint, 3-29) decide to attack teacher Mike Jankanish’s ideas (Viewpoint, 3-23) of finding ways to close the achievement gap through better early education and a “greater emphasis on creating a unified, rigorous curriculum?” I find these ideas commendable.

I believe all children can meet the standards we ask of them but we need to set these standards. It would be nice if the educational establishment believed this also.

My children have attended Tacoma public schools since 1991. The greatest improvement I observed was the results of the WASL. The whole community

Read more »


EDUCATION: Teaching the poorest is possible

Professor Dexter Gordon’s Oct. 26 article brought back delightful memories from the late ’60s in Oklahoma City.

At that time our small Community of John XXIII church opened a Montessori preschool in the heart of the poverty area with the help of funds from the federal poverty program. One forth of our kids were African Americans, one fourth were Latinos, one fourth were Native Americans and one fourth were Caucasian migrants from Arkansas.

We hired a Ph.D in education and a certified Montessori teacher to guide our teacher aides who came from the same poverty neighborhood, most of whom had

Read more »


LINCOLN CENTER: Take a closer look at data

Re: “Learn from Lincoln Center success” (letter, 6-4).

I have always believed that if something seems too good to be true then it probably is. I think it would be a mistake to make a rush to judgment in regard to the putative success of Lincoln Center.

Data can be easily manipulated to produce any outcome that the manipulator desire,s and discarding unfavorable data is one of the most obvious methods of data misuse. Since so much of Lincoln Center’s highly touted success in closing the achievement is based on students’ grade-point averages, I would ask if the students in

Read more »


SCHOOLS: Time to stop ganging up on teachers

I applaud the letter (6-2) on how to fix the achievement gap. For too long, the achievement gap has been unfairly placed on the backs of teachers and curriculum. The truth has finally been accurately pinpointed. All of the factors the letters writer mentioned for lack of achievement are right on target.

I have witnessed firsthand the apathy and disregard for the importance of education and the corresponding negative behaviors that interrupt the learning process for everyone. I don’t know how we can legislate mandatory student performance but maybe we need to take a look at the fact if students

Read more »


TACOMA SCHOOLS: How to fix the achievement gap

The first step in fixing the so called “achievement gap” should be a sobering assessment of the cause by admitting to the uncomfortable reality that fault lies not primarily with the schools but with parents and students.

If the school board and community leaders are genuinely interested in improving outcomes for minority kids, they should reject the premise that increased “cultural sensitivity” is the solution for reducing the achievement gap.

I would argue that in many instances “accepted culture” is the cause of the achievement gap, not the solution.

Common contributing factors for educational failure are imbedded within our community,

Read more »