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Topic: Progress in Inglewood
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Wayne Bishop

Posts: 5,465
Registered: 12/6/04
Progress in Inglewood
Posted: Aug 28, 2000 12:11 PM
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Re: Schools: Poverty is No Excuse
LA Times Editorial, August 28

The most amazing part of the success at Bennett-Kew Elementary in Inglewood
is that it is not even the highest school. Kelso Elementary had better
scores with worse socioeconomic numbers; it's the only API 10 school in the
state with at least 70% of its students qualifying for federal meal
assistance. It's percentage is almost 90%, with a third of its students
limited English and a third if its teachers under emergency teaching
credentials. The legacy of Nancy Ichinaga at BK and Marge Thompson at
Kelso is that they not only profoundly changed their own schools, they
changed their district. Inglewood Unified hit the 72nd percentile across
the district in grade 2 mathematics and 66th in grade 3 this year. The
entire district. This is not just unusual, it is profound. Teach kids to
read and "to math" in K-3, keep with it through the elementary and middle
school grades, and their futures are all but guaranteed. This is the real
end of Separate-But-Equal, not some phony social promotion gimmick.

Wayne Bishop
Professor of Mathematics
California State University, LA


Schools: Poverty Is No Excuse

Americans have not cared so much about education since 1957,
when Russia beat the United States into space with Sputnik. School
reform tops every major public opinion poll, and the increased
scrutiny is paying off with somewhat encouraging trends in math and
reading skills among 9-year-old students. But older students' scores
stalled on the National Assessment of Education Progress tests
during the past decade in two key subjects, reading and science,
while the achievement gap between black and white students

Of particular import to California is the fact that the gap between
Latino and white students has narrowed since the tests were first
given 30 years ago. But there has been slippage in that long-term
trend in the last decade.

Black and Latino students consistently post lower group scores
than white students. The difference remains pronounced even for
minority students with college-educated parents, prompting
educators to ask whether minority children are being taught by the
best teachers.

Lifting scores requires, among other things, excellent principals
and teachers, who are often in short supply at high-poverty schools
with predominantly Latino or black enrollments. Even so, these
demographics need not automatically spell failure.

"No Excuses: Lessons from 21 High-Performing, High-Poverty
Schools," published by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative
think tank, showcases campuses that educate low-income children
well. Similarly, the nonprofit Education Trust cites great
improvement at numerous schools in "Dispelling the Myth:
High-Poverty Schools Exceeding Expectations." These results
provide guides for low-performing campuses with similar

Bennett-Kew Elementary School in Inglewood, featured in the
Heritage Foundation publication, is often touted nationally as an
example of what works with poor, minority students. Its students
excel in reading, and their math scores in some cases surpass those
of affluent schools in Beverly Hills, Malibu and Irvine.

The school's longtime principal, Nancy Ichinaga, leads a stable
corps of well-trained teachers who concentrate on basic reading
skills, emphasize math fundamentals, assess students frequently and
intervene early when problems develop.

In California, where one in four students is not fluent in English
and nearly half of all students are poor, the lesson of Bennett-Kew
and schools like it is important to remember: Circumstances of birth,
and even poverty, do not negate a child's ability to learn.

Copyright 2000 Los Angeles Times

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