Holistic approach to education can close achievement gap

Updated

Closing the achievement gap is about more than just raising test scores, and it’s a conversation the Morning Joe crew tackled head first this morning at Fort Lee High School in New Jersey. msnbc’s Melissa Harris-Perry, Communities in Schools National Board Chair Elaine Wynn, and Telemundo’s Nightly News anchor Jose Diaz-Balart joined Morning Joe to talk about the importance of addressing what happens in students’ lives outside the classroom.

During this morning’s discussion, Melissa Harris-Perry noted the importance of improving a child’s community:

“I think often in the kind of education reform debates, we hear, ‘Parents aren’t doing enough. It’s really the parents’ responsibility,’ or we hear, ‘Teachers need to do better. We just need to train these teachers to be better teachers.’ But the fact is that kids in cities like New Orleans, in Newark, in D.C., even in rural areas that I think we often don’t think about…those kids are coming to school hungry. If you’re hungry, it’s more difficult to learn math. Those kids are facing violence in their communities. If you’re distracted by the possibility of being shot on your way home, you can’t focus on taking your schoolbooks with you when you leave the school.”

A recent commentary at MinnPost.com by Paul Meunier of the Minnesota Youth Intervention Programs Association discussed a “learning gap” in students’ education, and emphasized the need for more social services to help students with “experiences that occur beyond the classroom.”

The growing achievement gap in schools has been the subject of discussions regarding education reform. The question of how to improve student performance inside the classroom is one that schools are trying to answer amidst new waves of legislation. Recently, House Republicans approved two bills to shrink the federal government’s involvement in education, and many states are continuing to apply for waivers from the requirements of No Child Left Behind.

Holistic approach to education can close achievement gap

Updated