Bridg­ing the achieve­ment gap

Los Angeles Times - - Opinion -

Re “What works,” Opin­ion, Sept. 22

David L. Kirp is cor­rect to voice con­cern over the alarm­ingly high dropout rate among African Amer­i­can male high school stu­dents. He is also right when he points out that young­sters who at­tend high­qual­ity preschools are more likely to suc­ceed in school than those who don’t.

The prob­lem in Los An­ge­les and through­out Cal­i­for­nia is that ac­cess to high-qual­ity preschools is of­ten limited due to avail­abil­ity or in­come guide­lines. De­spite the proven ben­e­fits of a preschool ed­u­ca­tion, there is a re­luc­tance by some to in­vest re­sources in ef­forts to ex­pand early ed­u­ca­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties.

That is a mis­take that car­ries a heavy price, as early ed­u­ca­tion is a key to se­cur­ing a skilled and ed­u­cated work­force that can com­pete in the global econ­omy.

Preschool is an in­vest­ment in our chil­dren’s and so­ci­ety’s fu­ture.

Celia C. Ayala

Los An­ge­les The writer is the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Los An­ge­les Uni­ver­sal Preschool, which serves about 10,000 chil­dren in 325 preschools.

I read the Op-Ed on Amer­ica’s achieve­ment gap for black male stu­dents and all of the writer’s “so­lu­tions.” I was look­ing for one word in the ar­ti­cle that didn’t ap­pear. That word is “par­ents.”

Hugh A. Rose

Ne­whall

Good preschools, smaller ele­men­tary school classes, a fo­cus on read­ing, al­ter­ing at­ti­tudes about in­tel­li­gence, link­ing schools to their com­mu­ni­ties and pay­ing at­ten­tion to char­ac­ter-build­ing are cer­tainly key com­po­nents to mak­ing a dif­fer­ence for black male stu­dents.

May I also sug­gest an es­sen­tial com­po­nent: food.

What can a teacher say when a child, not fo­cus­ing on the day’s lessons, says: “I’m sorry. I re­ally can’t con­cen­trate. I’m hun­gry. We don’t have enough food to go around and to­day I couldn’t have break­fast.”

Michael Ris­man

Santa Mon­ica

The opin­ion piece is yet an­other in­com­plete story. Kirp of­fers many rea­sons for the dis­par­ity gap in achieve­ment by African Amer­i­cans: poor teach­ers, poor re­sources, lack of good preschools, etc.

Not a sin­gle men­tion of lack of parental in­ter­est and in­volve­ment. Not any men­tion of these un­der­achiev­ing stu­dents com­ing from sin­gle-par­ent homes of many sib­lings, most with no fa­ther. And many of these stu­dents are be­ing raised by grand­par­ents who no longer have the en­ergy they once had.

There are many, many rea­sons for un­der­achieve­ment. Let’s be hon­est and tackle one of the most im­por­tant rea­sons: When are we go­ing to get back to the ba­sics of be­ing a re­spon­si­ble par­ent?

You don’t have to be rich to take an ac­tive part in your child’s ed­u­ca­tion.

Lois Wet­ton

Tem­ple City

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