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Too Many Children Left Behind: How Can We Close the Achievement Gap? (NIF Issue Guide)

One of the National Issues Forums Institute’s issue guides, Too Many Children Left Behind: How Can We Close the Achievement Gap? outlines this public issue and several choices or approaches to addressing the issue. National Issues Forums do not advocate a specific solution or point of view, but provide citizens the opportunity to consider a broad range of choices, weigh the pros and cons of those options, and meet with each other in a public dialogue to identify the concerns they hold in common.

In a nation that prides itself on providing equal opportunity for all, too many low-income and minority children are falling behind their peers in school. In an increasingly competitive global arena, the United States cannot afford to ignore this widening achievement gap. What can be done to close it?

This issue book presents three possible approaches for dealing with this problem:

Approach #1: Raise Expectations and Demand Accountability
African Americans, Hispanic, and Native American students in many schools have become victims of what President George W. Bush calls “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” If we are to close the achievement gap, we must push for increased academic performance of all students, and make educators accountable for the results.

Approach #2: Close the Spending Gap
Schools in low-income, high-minority districts often lack science labs, computers, up-to-date textbooks, and well-qualified teachers who most often choose to work in better-paying, better-equipped suburban school districts. We cannot realistically expect more of poor, minority students until these resource and funding inequities are addressed.

Approach #3: Address the Root Causes
Problems that show up as poor academic performance begin long before low-income minority children come to school. And they cannot be remedied unless we address underlying causes, such as unresolved health problems, poor nutrition, stressful living conditions, and lack of parental support, which are the source of these deficits.

More about NIF issue guides…

NIFI’s issue guides introduce participants to several choices or approaches to consider. Rather than conforming to any single public proposal, each choice reflects widely held concerns and principles. Panels of experts review manuscripts to make sure the choices are presented accurately and fairly. By intention, issue guides do not identify individuals or organizations with partisan labels, such as Democratic, Republican, conservative, or liberal. The goal is to present ideas in a fresh way that encourages readers to judge them on their merit.

NIFI offers various materials for each of the issues it produces issue guides on. The moderator guide or “guide to the forums” for each issue is available as a free download. Discussion guides (or “issue guides”) for participants are generally available in print or PDF download for a small fee ($2 to $4). DVD’s can also be purchased for some issues for just $6, for use at the beginning of your forums to introduce the topic and approaches.

All NIF issue guides and associated tools can be accessed at www.nifi.org/issue_books/.

Resource Link: www.nifi.org/issue_books/detail.aspx?catID=10&itemID=8324

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