During the new school year, thousands of teachers across Texas once again will prove themselves to be miracle workers, of sorts, as they help students not only tackle their studies but also cope with a number of issues and distractions originating outside the classroom.
But even miracle workers have their limits, as the Houston Chronicle editorial, linked below, accurately points out.
Public schools and the people who work in them cannot “fix” deep-rooted, intergenerational poverty that continues to haunt tens of thousands of children in Texas. State leaders have failed them for years and continue to fail them with an inadequate safety net of health care and social services. These same state leaders – who also refuse to pay for an adequate and equitable school funding system — pass the buck to educators and then wring their hands when the same kids, year after year, continue to under-perform on standardized tests.
The editorial cited the case of Kashmere High School in Houston, which has been rated “improvement required” on the state’s accountability system for seven years.
Here’s why. Some 48 of adults in the community served by the school don’t have a high school diploma, and fewer than 7 percent have a college degree. Fifty-three percent of adults make less than $25,000 a year, the community has no Head Start programs and it lacks sufficient health care providers.
As the Chronicle wrote: “No matter what hours Kashmere’s principals, teachers and administrators put in, no matter how well they use data, no matter their dedication, school personnel cannot fix intergenerational poverty. They can’t amass the resources to meet these students’ basic needs or those of their families, whose engagement is vital to student success. Yet until students have full stomachs, a roof over their heads and a safe environment, it’s at best challenging for students to learn.”
A community school model in the Kashmere feeder pattern is attempting to coordinate social services and other community resources that the students and their families need. This is a good step, but the legislative majority also needs to provide more resources.
It doesn’t take a genius to predict that once the state implements it’s new, A-F grading system for campuses next year, Kashmere will get an “F.” And so will hundreds of other campuses with classrooms full of improverished children.
That is a stigma that will do absolutely nothing to help these kids. But it was much easier for the legislative majority to insult low-income children and their educators with this law than it was to begin to realistically address the challenges that these children and their teachers face.