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Closing the Gap

I recently returned from a speaking engagement at the North Carolina Raising Achievement Closing the Gap Conference in Greensboro, NC. About an hour before my presentation, the director of the conference sat down with me to go over the last minute items concerning the event. We reviewed the objectives of the conference, the mission, and what we wanted the audience to take home from the conference. Mind you, this conference was attended by close to 4,000 people. It was definitely a sight to see.

As we discussed the program, one of the things he emphasized was his desire to help educators understand the “root” of the problem we face in “raising achievement and closing the gap” among our students (especially students of color). His passion and concern for the students were evident in his face and his tone. He actually inspired me just listening to him.

Well, as I stood on the stage separated by two huge projection screens, overlooking a sea of a few thousand educators, administrators, and service providers in the state of North Carolina, I decided to hit the “root” of the problem immediately and relentlessly.

 

...continued

 

Hello Difference Maker,

I recently returned from a speaking engagement at the North Carolina Raising Achievement Closing the Gap Conference in Greensboro, NC. About an hour before my presentation, the director of the conference sat down with me to go over the last minute items concerning the event. We reviewed the objectives of the conference, the mission, and what we wanted the audience to take home from the conference. Mind you, this conference was attended by close to 4,000 people. It was definitely a sight to see.

As we discussed the program, one of the things he emphasized was his desire to help educators understand the “root” of the problem we face in “raising achievement and closing the gap” among our students (especially students of color). His passion and concern for the students were evident in his face and his tone. He actually inspired me just listening to him.

Well, as I stood on the stage separated by two huge projection screens, overlooking a sea of a few thousand educators, administrators, and service providers in the state of North Carolina, I decided to hit the “root” of the problem immediately and relentlessly.

As you know, there is an endless list of problems facing education. In fact, there are so many issues that the task of resolving them sometimes seem insurmountable. However, although we may not be able to solve all of the problems facing education, the answer is and will always be found in one source: the PEOPLE in education. I’m not just talking about teachers, but the administrators, as well as the support staff and the help of parents.

So many times we attend conferences looking for the next program, next new policy, or next cure-all strategy that will help us reach the “Promise Land” when it comes to meeting the needs of our students. But the truth of the matter is, nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, happens without the will and resolve of the people.

As an African American male, I am indebted to my forefathers and mothers for having the commitment, tenacity, and persistence to stand in the face of opposition and declare that “they refuse to accept the unacceptable.” Because of their righteous anger toward injustice, they adopted a “whatever it takes” attitude to turn the tables of a system that refused to even acknowledge their existence.

Do we need policy changes, revised procedures, and better programs? Of course we do. But without the commitment of the “right people” to implement the “right solution,” all we have is just another “good idea.” We must adopt the same attitude of our ancestors by refusing to waste time analyzing the problem, and focus our attention on taking the necessary actions to solve the problem.

During my flight into North Carolina, a woman on the plane (who was a former teacher) asked me, (after she discovered the kind of work I do), “What do you tell teachers to do when the problem is so great, and the conditions are so out of control?”

I told her I first try to remind them that the great teachers before us also had to face similar problems, and they endured and succeeded in spite of them. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t be teachers today. Secondly, I told her I tell teachers that we must EACH accept personal responsibility for the child(ren) in front of us. In other words, we need to reduce the size of the picture (the numerous problems with education) and focus on the details of making a difference in the life of EACH child we encounter.

And lastly, I told her I tell teachers, “What you can, you do; and what you can’t, you trust God to do.” If we focus our attention on being faithful with each child, asking God to help us with the ones we can’t reach, and supporting the other teachers around us, I’m certain he’ll take care of the results. I don’t know if this approach will necessary raise achievement and close the gap, but it’ll definitely be a step in the right direction.


 

Posted by: Professor Joe Martin • 2008 /04 /15 • Discuss This Entry (1) Permalink

 


 

Discuss "Closing the Gap"

On May 03, 2008
Jhon S said:

Oh! Perfect job!
Very interesting and actual post.
Thx, your blog in my Google reader now

Comment Permalink | Reply


 


 

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