Higher Ed

Readers react: Inability to afford dream school “a bitter, bitter pill”

This month’s letters to the editor discuss black teachers, personalized learning, special education and financial aid woes

We receive dozens of letters to the editor every month. Readers react to our stories positively and critically and we welcome their feedback. Here’s a sampling of letters from the past month, lightly edited for grammar and typos.

Have something to say? Write us a letter (use the form at the bottom of any story) and it may be featured in a future post.

Every day is an attempt “to tap into the potential that parents and I agree their child possesses.” ~K. Rainey, reader

Dr. Perry,

Wow! Your column (“What’s wrong with white teachers?” May 1, 2017) was both insightful and convicting. As a teacher and a parent with a child in an urban school district, I understand clearly why you confirm that black students benefit from black teachers. It is true that that there is an increased likelihood that a black teacher would see a black student’s gifts and talents and act on them. I have found myself pushing my child’s conspicuous gifts and God given talents in the faces of non- black teachers so that they might be acknowledged for 3 consecutive years.

The resulting problem is the inevitable “end of the line” scenario where there is “nothing more they can do” for students who achieve above the bar. When the school system is focused on mainstreaming education to meet the middle, gifted and talented programs continue to be things of the past. With any luck, teachers will see this is an opportunity where teachers both black and white must differentiate instruction for students in the classroom and seek out programs after school or outside of school that may benefit or interest high achieving students.

As a teacher who has worked in four Baltimore City Public Schools, many parents and students do reveal that they are inspired by me and other African American teachers and administrators in positions of leadership. To parents and students, leadership equals love and respect for the their own well-being. If we cannot recruit faster, we must make sure we retain the good ones we have. Every day for me is a deliberate attempt to move my students one step higher and to tap into the potential that parents and I agree their child possesses.

I appreciate your honesty and concern for the next generation.

K.Rainey

 

The issue is “schools are mainly designed to be competitions not trainings.” ~ Kahlid Khalil, reader

Dear editor,

Comparing education to sports (“Would students learn more if they were grouped together like Little League teams?” May 9, 2017), the issue is mainly that schools are mainly designed to be competitions not trainings. Grouping individuals by age is just a way to ensure equal opportunity in exams and raise the credibility of the final certificate.

Many sports, like basketball and soccer, do the same: they use age as an indicator of physical maturity and group kids accordingly. Other sports, like Kung Fu and Judo, use weight as an indicator while grouping kids in a multiage manner.

Apart from the aim of schools, it is also crucial to look at multiage grouping as a stage of development rather than an ideal approach. The further, fairer step would be competency-based grouping. Such an approach would require a radical change in the evaluation system, though. There would be a need to shift exams from measuring completion of materials to evaluating mastery of skills whose development the academic content is supposed to incubate. Only then we would manage to assess competency and group individuals according to it.

Kahlid Khalil

 

Special ed students: “Continue to let your voice be heard.” ~ Deanna Graham, reader

Dear Jordyn,

This article (“They told me I’d never go to college, but I just finished freshman year…” May 18, 2017) gives me hope. I teach special education in a middle school, and I truly believe some of my students would be college-bound if more institutions were open to implementing their IEPs. Those IEPs list the steps that were used to help them succeed in k-12 school settings, so why not give students the opportunities to continue that success in college? Jordyn, continue to let your voice be heard. Maybe more will be inspired and lift their voices, too.

Deanna Graham

 

After working hard in high school “having to enroll in a fourth-tier school, is a bitter, bitter pill.” ~ Nathan McIvor, reader

Liz Willen’s article, “Reality Check” (April 30, 2017), with its examination of highly qualified students forced into lesser colleges due to severe out-of-pocket expenses, rings true to my own experiences as a high school senior. Brinda Lamarre’s scenario-turning down Stonehill for U-Mass-is frustrating, as it reveals how academic meritocracy, supposedly the path to self-betterment, has been impeded by the bottom line of private institutions. As I can attest, working hard in high school to create your ideal future, and then having enroll in a fourth-tier school, is a bitter, bitter pill. Guidance counselors should put as many resources into financial planning as they do admissions; the less privileged would then have a better chance getting what they deserve, should chose to earn it.

Nathan McIvor

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