River Deep, Mountain High

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 29 2012

Rainy Day R & R

Lately, I feel like I begin every blog post with a disclaimer about how I “haven’t been blogging much recently.” In summary, things are great! I’m enjoying my job (it’s been really busy as of late), it’s nice to have college friends around, and I’m close to home. So, minus Hurricane Sandy, things are good.

Recently, I’ve picked up my reading, so I figured I’d share a few articles and blog posts that caught my eye today.

1. “Teaching Lessons“: “…Interventions that take a long time to learn and that require more resources also produce more change.”

-a great article that reinforces the holistic strategy of organizations such as City Year. I’ve seen firsthand both while teaching and now as a manager that students benefit greatly from having structured opportunities to work on cooperative capacity, and other character-building skills. Focusing on social-emotional learning skills AND developing teachers to lead SEL lessons is crucial in today’s society.

2. “Why I Am Pro-Life“: regardless of my own views, I found this piece to be the most poignant take on the abortion debate ever.

“We must stop letting Republicans name themselves “pro-life” and Democrats as “pro-choice.” It is a huge distortion.

In my world, you don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and be against common-sense gun control — like banning public access to the kind of semiautomatic assault rifle, designed for warfare, that was used recently in a Colorado theater. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and want to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures clean air and clean water, prevents childhood asthma, preserves biodiversity and combats climate change that could disrupt every life on the planet. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and oppose programs like Head Start that provide basic education, health and nutrition for the most disadvantaged children. You can call yourself a “pro-conception-to-birth, indifferent-to-life conservative.” I will never refer to someone who pickets Planned Parenthood but lobbies against common-sense gun laws as “pro-life.” ”

3. Tests As Stepping Stones: basically, Asians are overrepresented at Elite NYC schools due to their success on a single standardized test, whereas Latinos and African-Americans are underrepresented. Granting Asians benefit from extensive tutoring and other methods of test prep, but I think the key isn’t to hold them back or penalize them for that, but rather focus on bringing other minorities up to their level.

At the same time, the test prep industry benefitting most from this system alters the definition of “top student.” While people like to criticize Affirmative Action, I personally was awed to hear about the culture of test prep and tutoring many of my peers at Harvard had utilized. Often, I felt like a raw, unpolished diamond who would have done even better on those exams had I gone to a Private prep school and/or had I been granted access or even been aware of their existence. In terms of raw potential, a kid who makes 7/10 free throws with no coaching shouldn’t be passed over someone who’s only been shooting free throws for 10 years and makes 9 or 10. Right?

“You shouldn’t have to prep Sunday to Sunday, to get into a good high school.” Why make kids compete for a few good schools when we can work to ensure ALL high schools are high quality?

4. Tony Danza’s TFA Experience: I haven’t actually watched this video yet, but I think his book will be interesting.

5. Rebranding the Achievement Gap as an Achievement Debt!: I read and reflection a lot, so rarely do I read something and think: “wow, I’ve never thought of that before!” Read this post. Fascinating perspective.

“…What if we thought of the achievement gap is a debt? Over centuries, we have accumulated great wealth and education, in a large part because we borrowed from the human capital of millions of African Americans.”

Anthony Britt is a City Year Boston Program Manager. This post represents his own perspective and not necessarily those of City Year or AmeriCorps.

One Response

  1. Holly M

    Tony! So glad to see an update. I will check out several of those articles, so thanks for a curated, provocative list. Let’s catch up next time we’re in the same zipcode. Also, I might be making the jump to education soon, I’d love to get your thoughts on that after the new year.

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