Everyone working in a school knows the hardest job is teaching special education – especially to the most challenging children. Like all elementary music teachers, I work with special education teachers every day, and I have to tell you that they constantly amaze me with their sympathy, intelligence, insight, and patience. As far as I am concerned, anyone who devotes their career to teaching these deserving but demanding children is an angel on earth. And people who casually dismiss their work ought to be ashamed of themselves.
Which is why this next story bugs the hell out of me:
Advocates for Children of New Jersey has been working on child poverty issues for a good long while, but only recently started focusing on K-12 education. They recently released a report – Newark Kids Count 2011 – which bemoans the poor level of reading achievement for 3rd Graders in the city. The Star-Ledger’s Jessica Calefati picked up the story:
Two of every five Newark kids now live below the federal poverty line, a rate higher than it’s been in the past eight years. For a family of four, that means a median household income of less than $22,000 a year.
City officials, however, said the sobering child poverty level is no excuse for the district’s low performance on state tests, which is also detailed in the report, called Newark Kids Count.
“These figures show we are undermining the ability of our families to provide for their children,” said Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who has made job-growth in the city a priority. “But we cannot let poverty be an excuse not to educate our children at the highest levels.”
Big surprise hearing that from His Reforminess, but whatever. ACNJ and Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson decided to highlight this “no excuses” educational philosophy by releasing the report at the school that has the highest 3rd Grade test scores; and they made a point of letting us know which school has the lowest-achieveing 3rd Graders: