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Sacramento County, CA November 4, 2014 Election
Smart Voter

Why we must close the Achievement Gap in our Public Schools (As seen in the Sacramento Observer)

By Jag Bains

Candidate for Board Member; Natomas Unified School District

This information is provided by the candidate
We should be willing to dig through the customs and habits that are holding kids back and find the ways to fix them. We simply must close the achievement gap in our public schools. Our children's lives literally depend on it.
Equal opportunity is the hallmark of American society. The promise of this equality is embedded in our country's DNA. And without a doubt, the single greatest tool to bring this promise to reality is education. That's why any public school system that robs any child of their opportunity for an equal education cannot be accepted and must be reformed.

Sadly, this is not the case in our public schools today. No less an organization than the UCLA Civil Rights Project has identified California's public schools as the most segregated schools in the United States. As we know from the famous U.S. Supreme Court's Brown vs. Board of Education ruling, segregated schools are inherently unequal.

It's true that California schools today don't suffer the same form of segregation as was evident in Arkansas when the Supreme Court handed down the Brown ruling. Today's segregation is even more sinister in that it has developed over time, behind the scenes, rather than by overt acts dictating who goes to which school. But the de facto segregation underway in our schools here today is just as damaging to children as the old school segregation from decades past.

That segregation is called the achievement gap.

This achievement gap, the gap between what students learn at better schools versus worse ones, so often starts in the early years and can be impossible to overcome. Instead of being ready for a four year college when leaving high school, too many kids and their families, at best, will spend extra time and money trying to play catch up with remedial courses. At worst, kids get turned off to school, and to learning. Their achievement gap cuts off their access to fulfilling work and meaningful lives, and maybe, even their own children's access to equal opportunity. Families get left behind for generations.

Look back to your own school days. Remember how the lessons your learned one day would be the foundation for lessons you would learn the next? The simple truth is that kids from worse public schools never get the chance to build that foundation for learning. Mastering simple math lessons today leads to mastering algebra tomorrow, then becoming an engineer or scientist in the years to come. But the child who gets stuck in a lousy math class will never have a learning base to build upon. This same principle applies to all fields of study.

It's no secret that schools in better neighborhoods are better than schools from areas with low-income families. That's obvious from just driving by. But too often, politicians and education officials who talk about the achievement gap aren't willing to discuss why that's the case.

Over the years, policies and practices have crept into our school system that favor the adults who work at our schools, and our kids are paying the price. Look at how nice the district administration offices are compared to the classrooms. Notice how teachers too often get assigned to schools based on how long they've been on the job instead of where they're needed.

It's going to take a huge effort to reform our schools and restore putting the needs of our kids first, there are some simple reforms we can implement now that will help. I'm a big believer in open enrollment policies. I believe that a public school should be accessible to every member of the public. Families who want to take the time and effort to find and send their kids to the best public school they can get to every day should be allowed and encouraged to do just that.

We should be willing to dig through the customs and habits that are holding kids back and find the ways to fix them. We simply must close the achievement gap in our public schools. Our children's lives literally depend on it.

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ca/sac Created from information supplied by the candidate: October 31, 2014 09:13
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