Monday, May 03, 2010

David Hornbeck on educating our children. . .

David Hornbeck, former Maryland Commissioner of Education, Superintendent of the Philadelphia public schools and founder of Good Schools Pennsylvania, spoke on April 22 at the "Mayor's Breakfast" for the Dallas Faith Communities Coalition.  A minister, lawyer, community organizer and advocate for children, Hornbeck blew me away with his challenging message about education in America, especially among the children of low-income folks. 

He informed an attentive audience of community leaders who work mostly in West Dallas that we have the knowhow to educate any and every child "in whom we have an interest."  Of course, the last phrase is the key to our opportunities, as well as our failures, isn't it? 

In public education today, our problems are not related to knowledge, but to will.

He asked us if we wanted for all children the same educational options that we desire for our own children and grandchildren. 

He quoted the words recorded in Matthew 25:31ff where Jesus says that whenever we serve the hungry, the naked, the outsider, the homeless, the ill and the imprisoned, we serve him.  Hornbeck quickly pointed out that folks who fall into any of those classic categories of need and want are "disproportionately undereducated." 

He told us that the ability to predict a child's level of educational attainment by learning their zip code is "immoral" and unacceptable.

He finished his lecture by listing the "4 requirements" for educating every child in the nation regardless of income, race or status:

1)  We must believe that all children can achieve and at a high level.  Expectations are key.  This belief must permeate every decision that we make in creating a learning condition.

2)  We must use effective practices so that results trump tradition or long-established process.

3)  We must develop fair accountability systems for teachers and students.

4)  We must find adequate funding that is fairly (justly)  raised and equitably distributed, recognizing that local areas will need assistance from their states. 

The only reason we don't get it done is our lack of public and political will. 

Lot's to consider in his words of experience and wisdom.

What do you think?


rcorum said...

I could not agree with David Hornbeck more if I tried. The future of a child is so often determined not just by his home life, but also by the quality of his education. I am a part of a group of seven men who have been going weekly for two years to a Title I middle school to tutor. One of the greatest feelings in the world is to see the light go on in the mind of a child when they realize that they can learn. I will argue with you about a lot of things, but not about education. The door of opportunity pretty much closes on a child without a good education, and every child deserves the opportunity for a good education. The school that we help out at is poor, but proud. The teachers are dedicated, and the children are well behaved. Our church made a decision a couple of years ago that we would pick one school in our community and get really involved. We do much more than tutor. We even have line in our budget for the school's guidance counselors to use as needed. When they say a family needs help we know the need is real. We came to help with no strings attached. The group of men helping are both black and white. The common denominator is a love for children. Willie is a retired probation supervisor and FedEx security manager. Roger is retired Navy and Ronnie is a retired police officer who worked for years as the director of the gang unit in Memphis. Jim is a doctor.

What has really been interesting is that out of the blue several of these students have started attending our services at church. We have never invited them, but of course, welcome them. I wish every church would pick just one at risk school and decide to really help and I think we could really make a difference.

Anonymous said...

Up until the late 1960's we had a fine education system. What happened to change it?

Anonymous said...

Reasons for decline of public schools: 1) Class segregation due to racism 2) Exit of whites and many blacks from urban core 3) Racism that led whites out of public schools after desegregation 4) Power base for decisions remaining in white hands even though children in school elsewhere 5) Lack of adequate resources capital and human

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:44 - at least here in Dallas 4 is not the issue . The school board is majority minority and 2 of the 3 most recent superintendents have been Hispanic.

Anonymous said...

It's all my fault. I feel so white.