Thursday, July 3, 2008

You've got to accentuate the positive

After reading an article on Inside Ed about a grant for W.E.B. DuBois high school here, I've got to comment on the idea of rewarding schools (or students, or districts for that matter) for having problems. I understand that when you come from a deficit you need extra help, and I've got no problem with that. What I have a problem with is rewarding those who emphasize and dwell on their problems, or worse, punish those who make progress in spite of starting in a bad situation. I'm not saying that's the case with W.E.B. DuBois, I just wonder about singling them out.

The neighborhood of the first BCPSS school we attended was economically diverse, but they knew they would get money for the school by being Title I. After I complained about a change made to our free lunch form, which moved us from not qualifying to qualifying, it was made pretty clear that our presence at the school wasn't appreciated.

In the Special Ed arena it seems that focusing on and emphasizing a child's needs are the only way to get the services to help them succeed. Then, if they start doing well, you have to downplay those triumphs and talk about failures or those services will get taken away. As a parent of a special needs child, I know that I need to focus on the positive for every-one's mental health. I dread the doom and gloom that descends after these meetings.

I know that W.E.B. DuBois can benefit from this grant. Mentor programs and work opportunities are great, but if the school becomes "safer" will they deserve these programs less? And what about other schools who wish they could have these same programs? It seems that they will have to get more "dangerous"... is that what we should be shooting for?

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