Diversity, Economics and Education
page 1 |
2 | 3 |
4 | 5
| 6 |
7 | 8 |
WHAT PROGRAMS LIKE OPEN COURT seem to do best is
raise test scores. But many educators question whether or not it
really means much in terms of education. Testing and accountability,
says John Rogers, associate director of UCLA's Institute for Democracy,
Education & Access, "need to be implemented in a way that
leaves breathing space for creativity" to achieve positive
That breathing space is hard to come by. If a school has consistently
good test results, it's given more freedom to teach how it wants.
But directed curriculum such as Open Court narrowly targets the
specific knowledge students need to pass the tests.
"It's a hard cycle to break out of," says Furumoto. "And
it's also a problem because the ability to adapt the curriculum
to the needs of students is necessary to encourage thinking and
learning in poor-performing schools."
Naoya Imanishi '98, M.Ed. '01 teaches third grade at Loreto Street
Elementary School in the Highland Park area of Los Angeles. Like
most well-trained younger and still-enthusiastic teachers, he struggles
to take a creative approach to his lessons. "The curriculum,"
he says, "especially with younger kids, can make good use of
a diverse classroom." In January, for example, he used the
Western New Year and the Asian Lunar New Year as an entry to teach
about different cultures, incorporating into the lessons elements
of math (the children learned about measurement while cooking a
variety of unusual foods) and language development (they wrote stories
about their experiences in the classroom).
But with prescribed time periods for getting through set lesson
plans, teachers like Imanishi only have so much leeway. Expanding
the curriculum in a way that opens classrooms to the outside world
by bringing families and communities into the act is one way that
almost everyone agrees will make good use of the increasing diversity
in the schools without requiring more money.