One last look at the news before going to bed and this is what I see… apparently the problem is that teenagers in the city don’t see the long-term benefits to education and therefore academic success needs “rebranding” in order to motivate them to achieve:
Mr. Klein said the effort was spurred in part by the results from focus groups performed by market research firms for the Education Department. That research found that black and Latino students from some of the city’s most hard-pressed neighborhoods had a difficult time understanding that doing well in school can provide tangible long-term benefits.
Dr. Fryer approached five advertising agencies in September and asked them to come up with plans to “rebrand” academic achievement. Although it is not clear which of the plans education officials will choose, Dr. Fryer is enthusiastic about one that tries to make poor teenagers aware that academic success can lead to jobs that pay enough to support a middle- or upper-middle-class way of life.
And who knows, maybe there’s a kernel of truth to it, advertising is more powerful than god, but when I think about the bigger picture, I just want to scream. The blame here is so misplaced it is unbelievable. If motivation is the issue, perhaps the city would do well to take a look around the schools we ask poor children to attend. In mine, at least, a building that serves grades K-8, they eat in a nasty-smelling, ugly-as-hell cafeteria, learn in classrooms that are perpetually uncomfortable because someone cannot figure out how to heat our building properly (we’re talking upwards of 80 degrees with the windows open in the winter), oh I could go on about physical discomfort alone but let’s take a look outside at the neighborhood, the big faceless housing projects, the gunshots echoing outside the school during the day (not often, but it’s happened), the older kids who jump you when you’re different or just for the hell of it and make some children so fearful they stay home from school rather than walk there alone. The school building – despite the efforts of those of us who work there – lacks the kind of magic that inspires, lacks the comforts that communicate care and importance – and let’s be frank here, the kids are needy as hell and there is never enough… never enough mental health services, never enough school supplies, never enough teacher attention, never enough paraprofessionals. Classes need to be smaller so each one of these kids can get the attention he or she needs to make up for very real challenges that accompany being poor in the richest city on earth. School buildings need to say “You are welcome and cared for here and will enjoy the time you spend here, and what happens here is our priority.” And then, when we’ve made our schools beautiful and filled with the talented people and plentiful resources to provide what children need in order to do well, only then we can turn our attention to whatever gaps in motivation might exist and start sending out edgy little cellphone messages about the value of education. Christ.