We must all fight to close the achievement gap

By
  • Samuel Neisen — University student
December 05, 2012

The Dec. 3 article, “University aims to close K-12 achievement gap in Minnesota,” brought up a couple of things people must know.

First off, in Minnesota, we, more than schools, or government or universities, but we as communities of people must commit ourselves to closing this gap. Otherwise more problems than simply having less diversity on campus, as the article pointed out, will arise. However, this program the article talks about, Generation Next, and others like it that pump money into a broken system, are not the answer.

Nobody knows what the answer is. It is too complex — there are too many things going into the problem. I don’t know the answer, and I am studying to be a high school social studies teacher. My parents also don’t know the answer, and they have been teaching for more than 60 years combined. No one knows.

What I can offer, though, and what people need to understand, is that we have to commit ourselves to finding the solution together. No superman will come save us and fix this problem. We need to understand that trying to fix the problem by addressing these symptoms, such as low test scores, low graduation rates, etc., as the way the program in the article is going about doing so, is not the answer.

We as a society need to get to the root of these problems and fix them. We need a paradigm shift where we all value education and see learning as important. It is because only with an educated workforce will America continue to grow.

Moreover, we cannot evaluate success based on test scores. Education needs to be more than testing, as these tests just force students to think inside the box and then crushes their creativity. This new judgment of success is not easy, but we must look at how students feel about school: if they enjoy learning, if they are engaged citizens who care about the world and want to make it better and follow their dreams.

As I said, these things are very tough to do, and nobody knows how exactly to do so, but if we can all commit to working together and solving this problem, then maybe we will create this new paradigm. No person or program can do this; we all must work together to do so. In the end, I was disappointed by the article and the University of Minnesota’s efforts. Nobody has the answer, and the University’s attempt is just pumping money into a broken system.

I can’t say I know what to do, but I am committing myself to trying to find a way. If more of us as college students can do the same, then our children might go to school in a better system in this new paradigm where, as we educate, we determine success on so much more than testing and actually empower our students to be citizens of the world.

 

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