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The following statements were taken from page 305 of your textbook. Think about them, because they are a little scary.

" many cases, education operates as a critical intervening variable in the transmission of status from one generation to the next."

"...early academic failure strongly predicts later academic failure."

The next several pages in the textbook discuss the advantages upper and middle class children have over, to be quite blunt about it, children who live on the reservation, if not your children, certainly your neighbor's children, your cousin's children and your cousin's neighbor's children. In brief, what these statements mean are that middle class children go to school with a lot of the knowledge the school system expects them to have. They know their colors, ABC's, how to write their names, and all that other good stuff. Their parents have taught them how to behave in ways that will satisfy the teacher. From the very beginning, middle class children are very unlikely to fail. On the other hand, the child who did not learn division very well in elementary school, or cannot read well, is going to be at high risk for failure in high school. Failing high school, of course, he or she is not going to get into college, which pretty much rules out getting a job which will pay enough to bring the student into the middle class - ever!

There are many many volumes written on how schools funnel working class kids into working class jobs, and help middle and upper class kids get into colleges which will insure that they continue to live the lifestyle to which they have been accustomed. In fact, sociologists almost have an obsession about this issue. It does not have to be this way. There are schools which are succcessful with students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Schools that work- research you can use

Pay a lot of attention to page 306. The textbook gives a brief review of Michael Rutter's research on effective schools which were successful in educating poor students. Next time your school administrator says,

"What do you want me to do?"

try some of these suggestions on them.

  • Increase time spent on homework and emphasize its importance to students by including it in their grades.
  • Encourage students to use the library. Take students to the library during class. Require book reviews. Require research in the library.
  • Increase the proportion of time students spend in instructional and learning activities. Minimize the amount of classroom time spent on routine tasks like taking roll, collecting papers, etc.
  • Increase the time teachers spend on lesson plans and show high academic expectations of students by increasing the pace of instruction.
  • Maintain order in the classroom. Have school rules which all teachers support so that students are accustomed to a consistent discipline policy.
Notice which one I put last. Much of the research on differences between middle and low-income schools show that teachers in schools in poverty-stricken areas are often more concerned with maintaining order than academic achievement, a policy which would bring the parents down on them screaming in a more affluent area.

We have discussed some of the effects of school on children. Yet, children do not exist in a vacuum. Bronfenbrenner (remember him?) click on his name to go back there, if you don't. What about the effects of PARENTS on schooling? They are VERY important. I was somewhat appalled that your textbook hardly mentions parents at all during middle childhood. I checked a few other textbooks to see if this was abnormal, and most of them also ignore parents. Fortunately for you, you have me, your wonderful instructor, to remedy this oversight!

blue and orange NEXT arrowFor two views, one on the Spirit Lake Nation particularly, and the other on parent involvement in general, click here

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