TJ Dufresne: Equal access needs more study
I have recently been labeled a bigot because I question equal access in Summit High and Summit Middle School. Equal access philosophy is an applaud-worthy goal. It is in no way a racial or elitist issue. It’s about what’s best for all students regardless of learning level, primary language, learning/physical disability, socio-economic status, or any other sub-group label.
Not enough research validates equal access as “best practice” as Ms. Major asserts. It’s one of many instructional ideologies. Studies note higher achieving students have a negative benefit with equal access without slow and careful implementation. Hopefully the Equal Access Task Force will more carefully weigh research/case studies and contact schools implementing equal access.
When equal access came up for Board of Education vote, I represented many to ask for vote deferment due to lax communication. I asked to get: 1) more public input before equal access philosophy be undertaken, 2) objective student feedback and 3) more teachers/administration differentiation training and application because teachers find differentiation challenging. We’d have had better community understanding, adaptation and preparation for students and teachers. I was met with contempt from a couple of board members.
SHS Principal Drew Adkins would’ve accepted a deferment and used the time wisely. I’m heartened he has the best interests of students in mind and is willing to look at different implementation philosophies to raise all students’ achievement. If we don’t do things differently for our lower-achieving students, our high school rating will be at risk. Also, we should have more students striving to greater heights.
The current fervor is not an “us vs. them” issue. Time is of the essence. It behooves all to do this together. We all want students to have a rigorous education, to love (or at least like) school, be prepared for the world. We all want what’s best for all students.
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