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Kentucky’s Classification of Students of Color as ‘Gap Students’ Must End Now

Since at least 2012, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) has classified students of color and economically disadvantaged students as gap students; a classification which has filtered down to school districts and schools, so that teachers and administrators across the state commonly refer to students of color and economically disadvantaged students as gap students. KDE’s rationale for the classification of students in this way is that the academic achievement of these groups of students is typically significantly lower than that of White students, leaving significant achievement gaps. What KDE misses, however, is that gaps refers to the distances between the achievement scores of subgroups of students; gaps do not (or should not) refer to any specific groups of students. Referring to any group of students as gap students is at the very least extremely unprofessional and inappropriate. I argue that such labeling is additionally incredibly insulting, hurtful, and even harmful to children.

It is beyond my understanding why anyone would think such a labeling convention would be a good thing. Achievement gaps are ugly. They represent failures on the part of adults to get learning right for students of color and economically disadvantaged students. What achievement gaps do not represent is wrongdoing or shortcomings on the part of children. The academic achievement scores of children of color at levels significantly below those of White children is not a function of children of color having any less capacity to learn than White children. Why, then, would KDE attach such a derogatory label to children?

If we’re honest about it, the gap label would be more appropriately applied to teachers, schools, and school districts than to children. There are teachers and schools that we know for certain do more to exacerbate achievement gaps than to eliminate them. There are teachers and schools in Kentucky that are either unwilling or unable to meet the specific learning needs of culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse learners. Perhaps KDE should consider labeling those teachers and schools as gap teachers and gap schools. But to attach such a disparaging label to children is inaccurate and inexcusable.

I do not believe there was malicious intent with the creation of the gap category of students. In fact, I believe KDE officials’ intentions were probably noble, but even with the best of intentions, the classification of students of color and economically disadvantaged students as gap students is highly problematic and must be changed immediately.

I Sincerely Hope the Louisville NAACP is not Intentionally Misleading African Americans about Charter Schools

I read this morning that during a forum last week the president of the Louisville chapter of the NAACP made the statement that charter schools are private schools that cherry pick their students. First, search I hope what I read was a mistake. If, buy cialis however, it was not a mistake, I hope it was an honest mistake on the part of the president and not an intentional attempt to mislead Louisville’s African American community about charter schools.

Charter schools are not private schools. All charter schools are public schools. Under the charter school legislation that has been proposed in Kentucky, charter schools would be funded in the same way that every other public school in Kentucky is funded; receiving state and local dollars based on the number of students that attend schools. Further, under the proposed legislation in Kentucky, students would be admitted to charter schools through a simple admissions process; there would be no admissions preferences. Students who apply would be admitted, and if there are more applicants than seats, admission would be determined through a lottery. The proposed charter school legislation in Kentucky would actually make charter schools much less selective than the current magnet programs in operation in Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS).

Again, I hope the Louisville NAACP president’s comments were an honest mistake and not an intentional attempt to mislead Louisvillians. With the achievement of African American students in Jefferson County where it is, we don’t have time for politics and gamesmanship. If we’re going to debate the most appropriate ways for improving education for children in Louisville and across Kentucky, let’s do it honestly.

Parents want as many high quality school options available to them as possible, period. Strong public charter school legislation is one way to increase the number of high quality options available to parents.