Thanks for sharing Pat Dillon's poignant story on an important facet of the achievement gap ("Faces of the Achievement Gap," 3/30/2012). The human cost and pain of this community problem sometimes get lost in the statistics-heavy debate we've been having, as do the energy and drive of those black and Hispanic kids who indeed want to succeed in our school system.
Steven A. Goldberg
"Natural rhythms"? I haven't heard that expression used for persons of color since the 1970s. Back then it was code for "blacks are only good at breakdancing, hip-hop and basketball." I would hope we would have gotten past that kind of stereotyping, whatever the positive intentions. I know exactly what Jackie Hunt means when she says "It's too bad teachers don't tap into the natural rhythms that children of color have," but this an unfortunate way to express it, since it plays into the hands of those who think African Americans as a group have limited learning ability.
Genius and stupidity, generosity and selfishness, musical talent and tone deafness are fairly evenly distributed across all six billion of us human beings. There is no one group that is genetically predisposed to "tap into" anything. What our society does with that evenly distributed genius, generosity, or musical talent, or even how we define these things, is much more important.
Charles J. James
As long as we outsource to rank amateurs, in the form of homework, a significant chunk of what our kids should be learning in school, we will always have an achievement gap. There will always be some kids who have the time, inclination, support materials and environment to learn on their own, and others who do not.
The school day is too short, and the three months of summer vacation - a relict of the era when 90% of Americans worked on the farm instead of only 3% - is a pedagogical disaster area. We should banish that downtime forthwith, go to year-round school, and eliminate homework altogether. Then the underprivileged will at least have a fighting chance.
Richard S. Russell
The experiences of students and parents who are most affected provide a perspective that's not often seen or discussed. Given the dismal statistics on these kinds of experiences and their lifelong consequences, support for Madison Prep is merited. As high school student Taylor Kilgore states in the article, such a school would operate as historically black colleges and universities do, and they've had success.
Annette Beauchamp, Spanish bilingual T.E.A.C.H. scholarship counselor, Wisconsin Early Childhood Association