Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Wisdom of a Three-Year Old

When my oldest was three, some dear friends of ours (graduate students) were moving out of town. We had a goodbye picnic at Gallup Park. They had two kids, and the younger one was (and still is) exactly one month younger than our son.

After we ate, the kids were off playing on the playground. We looked over, and found them doing something that we didn't like. (No, I don't remember what it was.) We intervened and called them over.

And as they walked away, back to the playground, we overheard their daughter saying to our son, "Let's not do that again."

I imagine that is how the Ann Arbor schools are feeling now, regarding the Dicken lunch bunch field trip.


  1. It's PEG that was a big problem.
    I wonder if they dump those people now.

  2. By PEG I think you mean the consulting group. The consulting group is not the problem. First of all, consultants make suggestions, it's the district that implements.
    Second of all, the problem is not the consultant (even if the consultant might be the wrong tool). The problem is the achievement gap.

    In math, if you gave someone the equation 2 x 8, and they wrote down the answer as 6, it could just be an error, a mistake. Maybe they meant to write down 16 but they left off the 1. Or, it could be that they don't understand the multiplication concept. In that case, we don't have an error, we have a bigger (concept) problem.

    When we focus on the little snags--the mistakes, the errors--like the recent field trip--we often miss the big picture.

    Of course we have to break the big picture down into bite-sized pieces, in the same way that if I were teaching multiplication I would need to break the concepts into mini-concepts. And sometimes, the first way I would teach a concept might not work.

    It is the same way with the achievement gap. We need to break it into smaller pieces, but we also need to keep our eye on the big picture.

  3. PEG clearly is a problem in that the district feels that it is addressing the gap using this service. I haven't heard anything from PEG that merits us paying them anything. This was a little bit more than a snag. We got so much attention because it was just an awful event to have sponsored through a school system.
    The district is in hot water with minority achievement and is in very significant hot water with minority attendance with the state,they have paid stiff fines for it in the recent past and the state is dictating how specifically to use part of their special ed funding. It is not just about MEAP scores. The difficulties the district is having is costing it real money.
    There's lots of pieces to it, and some our not in the schools control, but having high expectations for the kids is the first step.

  4. Wow. I didn't know about all of that -- fines, etc. It would be interesting to hear more about what the problems and issues are with the achievement gap. I think we have only a very superficial understanding of what is going on.

  5. OK, it is time to clear things up a little bit, so I asked the AAPS for confirmation of what was said up above. This is what I found out:
    There are disparities that are achievement gap related. BUT, they are not in "hot water" around minority attendance, and there have been no fines with respect to disproportionality.
    However, you are correct that the district is required to spend 15% of federal IDEIA dollars (special education funds) on early intervention services for students who do NOT have IEPs (special education plans). And this requirement is based on the fact that (as I noted in the Race/ism and Disparities post), there have been a disproportionate number of African Americans identified as cognitively impaired in Ann Arbor.