Leave Unit 4 kids where they are

As a parent, grandparent and educator, I have always believed the goal of our schools to be the highest educational achievement possible for each child within a nurturing environment.

Consistent with that belief, I have been challenged by the following two thoughts: First, what is the relationship between socioeconomic mix and student achievement? Second, why is Unit 4 paying for outside consultants when we have one of the premier colleges of education here?

My second concern was answered when I read Professor Jon Hale’s “My Turn” commentary in The News-Gazette. Hale provides no clear path to improved student achievement for Unit 4 but instead rehashes the 1990s “schools of choice” debate. He further complicates the discussion by characterizing certain policies (without reference) as “racist and increasingly transphobic and classist.”

The question of the relationship between socioeconomic mix and student achievement is not new. If we improve the socioeconomic mix of students, will student achievement commensurately improve? In fact, if you choose to look at the achievement of all students, the answer is no. A classic study on the Kansas City, Mo., schools is reported by David Von Drohle in the Oct. 21 Washington Post.

So, what would I recommend? Leave the children where they are and, as necessary, move teachers, administrators and staff to create and support tailored learning programs for each student.

CHARLES V. EVANS

Champaign

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