We’re Sure to Get Somewhere

I used the phrase “down a rabbit hole” in a Huffington Post column this week about the need for a rich, coherent curriculum to close achievement gaps.

My assumption was that readers would recognize the reference to Lewis Carroll’s novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. That is the book in which a young girl falls into a rabbit hole and encounters a confusing fantasy world populated with a White Rabbit, a Mad Hatter, and a Cheshire Cat, among others — all of whom are iconic literary figures. Anyone who doesn’t recognize those characters and at least vaguely understand what they represent is bound to miss the meaning of many conversations and stories.

Ensuring that students know the things educated people generally know is one of the basic arguments for ensuring that students are exposed to a rich, coherent curriculum that systematically builds knowledge about history, science, literature, and the arts.

Without that clear direction, we are left — in one of Alice’s arguably most profound encounters — to the advice of the Cheshire Cat:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” [asked Alice]

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where —” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

“— so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

Don’t Forget the Importance of Breakfast This Back-to-School Season

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As adults, we’re told of the importance of starting our days with breakfast — to get our metabolism going, to give us energy, to help us focus. Not surprisingly, these reasons apply to children as well, but far too many of them come to school hungry, which can make it difficult for them stay on task.

Children who start their day with breakfast at school, on the other hand, demonstrate higher achievement, better attendance, fewer behavior problems, and an improved diet. Children who don’t are at a disadvantage, which is why the School Breakfast Program is so important. In light of back-to-school time, we’d like to highlight a few resources that illustrate the impact of school breakfast and the ongoing efforts to deliver it to more students nationally: Continue reading

Help on the Way?

A recent poll by the Education Week Research Center reaffirms what other polls have shown — that teachers are well aware that the textbooks and materials they are expected to use do not line up with the standards they are expected to satisfy.

That was true when there were 50 different state standards, and it remains true now that 43 states have adopted the Common Core. Continue reading

Vote for Ed Trust at SXSWedu 2015!

Every March, Austin, Texas is abuzz with the SXSWedu® Conference & Festival. It brings together educators, advocates, journalists, and others to engage in and collaborate on various education issues. The best part? SXSWedu asks for community input to decide the programming for the conference. So, Ed Trust needs your help! Let’s make sure there are substantive panels about equity in education, led by the Ed Trust team.

SXSWeduClick to read more about our sessions below, and be sure to give them a “thumbs up” so that they’re included during SXSWedu 2015: Continue reading

Helping the Rich Get Richer — At Every Level

School funding in America is unequal. As a nation, we spend less in the places with the highest percentages of low-income students — not just in states and districts, but also in the specific schools they attend. It’s hard to imagine any additional inequity built into this system, but a new analysis suggests that there is — funding disparities actually exist between classrooms within the same school. Continue reading

A Teacher Who Saw the Tragedy of Harsh and Arbitrary Discipline

I’ve been rereading Up the Down Staircase, the 1964 classic tale of a dysfunctional urban high school, and one of the points that struck me is that one of the students worst served by the school was Italian-American.

In all the current discussions about achievement gaps among ethnic groups, it is often forgotten that back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Italian-American students — particularly boys — were often marginalized and expected to drop out of school before graduation. Continue reading