The real advantage of wealthier schools

This title is stolen directly from an excellent piece by John Spencer, whose blog is always worth reading. It’s clear from context that Spencer lives in a middle-class district and teaches in a low-income one. This combination is of course of great interest to me, as I live in a low-income district in the inner city but teach in a wealthy district in the suburbs during the school year. And, to complicate matters, I teach low-income inner-city students during the summer. So…

You might that that the “real advantage of wealthier schools” is that they have more money. But you would be wrong, according to Spencer’s persuasive argument. He points out, for example, that “the technology in our middle class neighborhood school [attended by our sons] pales to the flashy Macbook Airs and iPads of the [low-income] district where I teach.” The real advantage lies in the attitudes of the parents and the administration:

In my district, teachers are discouraged to go on field trips for fear of losing instructional time. At my sons’ school, they take at least two field trips per quarter. My son takes an annual test instead of spending six weeks a year on standardized testing, along with a weekly standardized test to prep for the quarterly standardized test to prep for the annual standardized test.

My sons get science. Real science. The kind that you do with your hands and eyes and everything else that’s not a worksheet. The type that begins with inquiry and works through observation. In my district, they get test prep science or vocabulary-building science or science-to-support-language-acquisition.

My sons get social studies, too. Real social studies, with divergent views and critical thinking and mock trials. In my district, social studies is relegated to remedial reading in preparation for the PARCC assessment.

Read Spencer’s whole essay, including the first comment (the satire in which will completely go over the heads of certain readers).

Categories: Dorchester/Boston, Teaching & Learning, Weston