The Public School Insights blog has an interview with the leaders of a project in Boston called City Connects. It’s designed to help connect students to both school-based and community resources, and has resulted in higher student achievement.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview — both the question and its answer:
Public School Insights: In many policy debates recently, attempts to talk about the way in which out-of-school factors impede learning are often characterized as attempts to let schools off the hook, to make excuses for very poor schooling. Do you ever run up against that characterization?
DiNatale: I was a principal in Boston for 26 years. As the school leader it was my job to look at the root causes of the deficiency in scores of some of our students. And I did not want the faculty to put heavy emphasis on what I call blaming the student or blaming the family. We have to be realistic and know that as schools and as educators, we need to do much more and to accept more accountability for student achievement.
At the same time, we are educating whole children. Children who live in neighborhoods that are very impoverished in many ways, and we know poverty has an impact on student achievement. There are growing numbers of families not able to provide the opportunities that more affluent families can. Sometimes children’s health needs are not addressed in the way they need to be for them to come to school and sit in a classroom and learn.
We cannot negate any of that. We have to put systems in place to ensure that every child has his or her maximum opportunity to learn. And we should not blame anyone. We just say we know students have strengths and needs and that we must account for that if we want every child to achieve high standards.