“While resources are important they can never replace resourcefulness.” –Frances Pulle
Report by Paula Antolini
September 15, 2016 8:50AM EDT
OPINION / LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Open Letter to Judge Moukawsher / Letter to the Editor by Frances Pulle
You attended (extrapolating from your bio) elementary school during the late
sixties, early seventies; “junior high” during the mid-seventies; graduated high
school in 1981. Think back for a minute, Judge, and recall that world…A world
whose social/cultural/political landscape was strikingly different from today’s…
A world that, rightly or wrongly, evokes a simpler time…A world that Boomers
can dial back even further. Let’s reminisce:
Communities and neighborhoods were, basically, homogenous; children were
expected to hit the books, buckle down, best their peers; immigrant parents were
the “tigers” of their day; Sunday was reserved for homework; two-parent families
were the norm; one’s “roots” were quietly affirmed in private.
This is not the case today as you well know. Students–especially those who
inhabit the poor side of town–have proven to be hard to reach, harder to teach.
Thanks to diversity. For example:
* Youngsters–both native and immigrant–present a wide range of knowledge/skill levels that is literally all over the map. Recent arrivals’ poor command of their own language makes learning English difficult.
* Students prefer instruction that, like food, is organic (trendy) and lite (easy to digest).
* Parents object to anything that is not positive reinforcement. For their children.
* Homes sport few books, dictionaries, periodicals, library cards.
* Two-biological-parent-families-living-under-the-same-roof (traditionally the gold
standard) are now considered a lifestyle choice.
* Children suffer a host of never before seen diseases, ailments, allergies, conditions,
impairments. Students are overweight, undernourished. Personal problems like the
need to work/care for siblings–homelessness, even–add baggage.
* Studying signals to others you are a nerd, anti-social, Asian, “white”, unpopular,
unathletic, unattractive, a loser. Same goes for good attendance.
* Any detour from multiculturalism is deemed to be insensitive, hateful, racist.
* Tiny attention/memory spans–thanks to tech addiction and boatload of issues
cited above–force teachers to “entertain” in order to “engage” the troops.
Nowhere, Judge, does your opinion address the obvious: That students are, to some extent, responsible for their miserable performance (test scores graduation rates, college readiness) and failure to thrive. That throwing money at a problem (when we had it) never worked and never will. That certain environments do not foster the freedom to become enlightened. That kids facing the proverbial “stacked deck” need more than taxpayers can provide. That people are not being nativist when they object to educating children who reside here Illegally.
The students who attend high performance schools–usually but not
exclusively located in wealthier districts–present a class picture that is the
antithesis of Danbury’s, Norwalk’s, Bridgeport’s. These boys and girls are
most likely to succeed because they enjoy life-long, too numerous to mention
advantages money can’t buy. Positive character traits, too obvious to mention,
are exampled all around them. And, the early leg-up bequeathed by mom and
dad continues into adulthood. In short, the “two Connecticuts” reflected in
city/suburban schools’ radically different performance levels will persist
regardless of what Hartford does. States that have already grappled with
this emotionally charged issue–New York, for example–know this.
Offspring of peasants in developing nations demonstrate a higher aptitude
in almost all subjects–especially math and science–when compared to ours.
Test scores released several weeks ago that claim to measure achievement
and progress of Connecticut’s kids were sorry stats indeed! SAT and ACT scores
nationwide have dropped precipitously the last fifteen years when state funding
and federal financing were generous.
The sole conclusion, Judge, that we can draw from the aforementioned is
this: While resources are important they can never replace resourcefulness.