First J.D. cites the article that made the rounds recently in which a super teacher recognized that some of her students were hungry and did the reasonable thing and fed them. A heart-warming anecdote for sure, but an anecdote nonetheless, because when we've studied the link between feeding children and academic performance of American kids we don't find one:
Taras noted that studies of absenteeism rates among students who are offered breakfast at school found that when schools offer breakfast, children are not only more likely to attend school but also have low rates of tardiness. American-based research studies do not show any positive effects of a good breakfast on students'’ academic performance once they get to school, but he noted that the studies showed that grades do improve with a school breakfast in undeveloped countries where children are malnourished.That's because in the U.S. our poor are more likely to be obese than malnourished. Nonetheless, I'm all for feeding any kid who isn't getting enough to eat. With the number of state, federal, and charitable programs that address this concern, there really is no excuse for any kid going to school hungry. But, let's not pretend that it's going to make more than a dent in student achievement failures outside of the Congo.
JD's next argument is a strawman:
If you're a teacher of a student who spends one third of her time in your class, one third of her time being verbally and/or physically abused by her parents, and, hopefully, one third of her time sleeping, that teacher is not responsible for jack-squat. The parents have determined the student's fate...The NAEP indicates that about 70% of students are not performing at grade level. JD would have us believe that this 70% comprises the "verbally and/or physically abused" and kids raised by wolves. JD forgot about the cognitively disabled and a whole host of other problems that prevent some kids from achieving. But I didn't:
... The radical message implied by these ramblings is that, even if I were to have sent my daughter off to be raised by wolves in her first 4 years, the state is responsible for catching her up to everyone else.
Sure, they'll be a few hard cases that won't respond to effective classroom management or who lack sufficient cognitive ability.When we add up all the abused kids, the emotionally and/or cognitively disabled kids, and JD's wolf boys we wind up with a tiny fraction of students, about 2%-10%, who won't be able to achieve academically given even the best schooling. I've already excused the performance of these kids. So what about the remaining 60%, JD? Many of these kids are getting at least some parental support.
JD, of all people, should know that the primary reason why these kids aren't achieving is overwhelmingly due to bad curricula and instruction. Maybe an example is in order.
My favorite is the City Springs School in Baltimore City. In 1998 it was the worst school in Baltimore City, which is quite an accomplishment considering the general wretchedness of the schools in Baltimore City. CTBS/TerraNova scores for the fifth grade were 14th and 9th percentile for reading and math respectively. Then they changed the school management and curriculum (one that does not require parental support, JD) and five years later the scores improved to 87th and 79th percentile respectively. This school has every disadvantage you can think of, and yet they've managed to succeed. Apparently, six hours a day, 180 days a year is sufficient time to compensate for all but the very worst of parenting. According to JD, this should be impossible. And yet here we are.