GOOD

Achievement or Opportunity Gap, a Great Teacher Makes it Disappear

A Nashville high school student says the real achievement gap at her school "is figuring out if you want to apply yourself or not."


\n
This is the third post in a five-part series from Teach For America corps members and alumni about the use of the phrase "achievement gap" both within the organization and the wider education community.

There are two types of teachers in the world: a teacher who cares about their students' performance and a teacher who doesn't. What we have in schools is not an achievement gap—it's an opportunity gap—and with the right resources, there is no gap. Resources do not have to be material things such as money for proper textbooks. The best resource for a student is a teacher.

I was fortunate to attend KIPP: Nashville, a middle school where the teachers never underestimated us. The majority of the students at my school were African Americans from North and East Nashville. Teachers knew our potential when we didn't.

At KIPP: Nashville, we didn't have any math textbooks, but that didn't stop us from learning in our math class. We didn't have a proper library, but that didn't stop our English teachers from sectioning off a quarter of their classroom for a "mini-library" so we could still read books.

Those are just a few things my teachers did for us to show us there is a way to learn and be outstanding without the things other privileged students had. We wanted to be the best middle school in Nashville. Nothing was going to hold us back and nothing did. Not once in my middle school years did I hear anyone say anything about an achievement gap. Looking back, I wonder why the achievement gap was never talked about back then.

After leaving KIPP: Nashville, I went on to high school at The Harpeth Hall School, an all-girls private high school. I've never once heard the term "achievement gap" spoken here. There’s no reason for it. I have all the textbooks I need, and a wonderful library and teachers that care. Maybe the real reason I don’t hear the term is because in Nashville there is no school better than Harpeth Hall. Harpeth Hall is a majority white school where everything and everyone in it is charged to help its students be the best prepared for college.

The real achievement gap here is figuring out if you want to apply yourself or not. Prior to Harpeth Hall, I learned at KIPP to apply myself to reach the goals I want in life no matter how hard it is. That was the word to live by, because there were limited resources. There is another factor thrown into the term achievement gap and that is wealth regardless of race. Money knows best, right? At Harpeth Hall there is an abundance of resources and all you have to do is try. The gap here is between what you say you are and who you really are.

There shouldn't be any racial connection to the term achievement gap, but there is. Who is to say that the white community should set the bar for what our nation’s education system aspires to be? A long time ago, when there was a true achievement gap—when African Americans had little to no access to education—that was an appropriate time to try and model the education systems of the white community. Now things need to be shifted in a new light. Hard work and dedication should set the bar for our nation.

A version of this post originally appeared at Pass The Chalk

Elementary student with teacher image via Shutterstock

Articles
AFP News Agency / Twitter

A study out of Belgium found that smart people are much less likely to be bigoted. The same study also found that people who are bigoted are more likely to overestimate their own intelligence.

A horrifying story out of Germany is a perfect example of this truth on full display: an anti-Semite was so dumb the was unable to open a door at the temple he tried to attack.

On Wednesday, October 9, congregants gathered at a synagogue in Humboldtstrasse, Germany for a Yom Kippur service, and an anti-Semite armed with explosives and carrying a rifle attempted to barge in through the door.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities
via Andi-Graf / Pixabay

The old saying goes something like, "Possessions don't make you happy." A more dire version is, "What you own, ends up owning you."

Are these old adages true or just the empty words of ancient party-poopers challenging you not to buy an iPhone 11? According to a new study of 968 young adults by the University of Arizona, being materialistic only brings us misery.

The study examined how engaging in pro-environmental behaviors affects the well-being of millenials. The study found two ways in which they modify their behaviors to help the environment: they either reduce what they consume or purchase green items.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

One of the biggest obstacles to getting assault weapons banned in the United States is the amount of money they generate.

There were around 10 million guns manufactured in the U.S. in 2016 of which around 2 million were semiautomatic, assault-style weapons. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry's trade association, the U.S. industry's total economic impact in 2016 alone was $51 billion.

In 2016, the NRA gave over $50 million to buy support from lawmakers. When one considers the tens of millions of dollars spent on commerce and corruption, it's no wonder gun control advocates have an uphill battle.

That, of course, assumes that money can control just about anyone in the equation. However, there are a few brave souls who actually value human life over profit.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via Reddit and NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Trees give us a unique glimpse into our past. An examination of tree rings can show us what the climate was like in a given year. Was it a wet winter? Were there hurricanes in the summer? Did a forest fire ravage the area?

An ancient tree in New Zealand is the first to provide evidence of the near reversal of the Earth's magnetic field over 41,000 years ago.

Over the past 83 million years there have been 183 magnetic pole reversals, a process that takes about 7,000 years to complete.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Pixabay

The final episode of "The Sopranos" made a lot of people angry because it ends with mob boss Tony Soprano and his family eating at an ice cream parlor while "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey plays in the background … and then, suddenly, the screen turns black.

Some thought the ending was a dirty trick, while others saw it as a stroke of brilliance. A popular theory is that Tony gets shot, but doesn't know it because, as his brother-in-law Bobby Baccala said, "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right?"

So the show gives us all an idea of what it's like to die. We're here and then we're not.

Keep Reading Show less
Health