If their test scores and/or grades are low, my school’s students will be placed in an extra English or math class next year in place of any elective. While others take art, these students will be remediated. Scores indicate these students have not mastered fundamentals and thus require extra help.
I wish we could embed those fundamentals into a fun elective. I am concerned that we will push some students out the door, especially since unfortunate comparisons will be inevitable. What “Manny” will see is that school seems to be much less fun for him than for “Henry.” Henry gets to take art. Henry receives good grades and gets to go to the special lunch for kids on the honor roll, the lunch where kids can use electronics. In contrast, Manny will attend an extra math class. He may be going to a special lunch for kids who misbehave, where he does his homework or other academics, since disciplinary problems go hand-in-hand with academic struggles.
Eduhonesty: I am altogether in favor of special perks for students who are doing well. Incentives work sometimes. I have had students putting in extra work and hours to get to that electronics lunch. They don’t care about honor roll, but they do want to be part of honor roll lunch where they can use their phones and play sports after they eat.
Still, I strongly suggest that we take time to try to view the world through the eyes of those kids who are nowhere near getting to sit in that special lunch. If we are trying to save these kids, we need to remember that when school becomes too grim, some kids are going to head for the door, not the next tutoring opportunity. Manny’s secret mantra may become “I’m outta here. ” If he chants that mantra enough, he will make it happen.
He’s unfortunate enough to fall in that Hispanic category, too, a gray line that’s been falling but that remains above the other ethnicities recorded in the government’s chart.