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This lead editorial from the Atlanta Journal Constitution (6/22/06) highlights Betsy's blog:


Too quickly dismissed

BY Maureen Downey – (for the editorial board)
Thursday, June 22, 2006

"Why don't you try teaching for three weeks and then you can speak with some sense regarding education --- you can't make silk purses from sow's ears!!!!"

--- Signed, An old retired teacher.

It's hard to transform education in Georgia, and the attitude reflected in that e-mail, sent in response to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial about underperforming schools, goes a long way in explaining why. Some teachers simply don't believe that their students, by virtue of their backgrounds, can ever amount to much. As a result, too many don't.

[snip snip]

Studies show that the disengagement from school that eventually causes kids to drop out begins in elementary school. Six-year-olds begin school eager to learn, as a visit to any first-grade classroom will prove. But if you revisit those same kids in middle school, too often the excitement and enthusiasm have evaporated. In most middle schools, the classes are large, the curriculum is shallow and the focus is on keeping order in the halls rather than on inspiring lessons in the classroom.

By high school, many students have fallen behind. Tired of failure and the sense that no one cares, they give up.

Elementary and middle schools in high-poverty communities have to be smaller and their staffs more focused to provide the attention that the children often lack at home. Schools have to develop checkpoints along the way that capture the kids already drifting toward dropping out.

Betsy Rogers of Alabama, a former National Teacher of the Year who chose to work in a high-poverty elementary school, is among the many teachers who refuse to surrender to low expectations. She records her experiences at Brighton Elementary in a remarkable online journal (www.teacherleaders.org/BRblog.html).

In a May entry, Rogers wrote of the despair she felt when she looked at test scores at the middle school that awaits her students:

"My heart breaks for our students, as I know we have failed them. I look in the faces of our kindergarten students who have made so much progress this year and know we have very little to offer them for the future. Unless things change, one day they will be eighth-graders in a school that is not equipped to prepare them for high school."

I had to visit your blog again after hearing about Brighton making AYP this year!!!! Congratulations to you and to your colleagues who are working so hard for Brighton's children. We are so proud!!!

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