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Too many educators make excuses for the failure of most public schools to teach low-income children. But across the nation dozens of high-performing principals have identified those effective practices that allow all children to excel regardless of income level. In this new report, Samuel Casey Carter, a Bradley Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, examines the common practices of twenty one principals of low-income schools who set the standard for high achievement. The lessons uncovered in these case-studies provide an invaluable resource for anyone interested in providing increased educational opportunities for low-income children.
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While the current education debate focuses on funding, a new study of low-income schools finds the key to academic excellence is not dollars, but educators who instill a passion for achievement and refuse to accept failure. In No Excuses: Lessons from 21 High-Performing, High-Poverty Schools, Samuel Casey Carter, a former Bradley fellow at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, highlights schools whose predominantly low-income Hispanic and African-American students score significantly above the national average in core subjects. The common thread: principals and teachers who demand excellence and reject the notion that poor kids can't learn. Although at least 75 percent of the students in these schools come from low-income families, they score in the 65th percentile or higher on national exams. Nationwide, schools with 75 percent low-income students typically score below the 35th percentile. "No Excuses principals reject the ideology of victimhood that dominates most public discussion of race and academic achievement," writes Adam Meyerson, Heritage vice president for educational affairs. "They do not dumb down tests and courses for black and Hispanic children; instead they prove that children of all races and income levels can take tough courses and succeed." Jaime Escalante, the former Los Angeles calculus teacher featured in the movie "Stand and Deliver" notes, "The principals in this book are not superheroes. Other schools can match their performance by setting high standards and encouraging ganas, the desire to learn and achieve, among children of all social and economic backgrounds." These principals show what would be possible if public school systems began to encourage and reward this level of success--success that could be replicated at schools nationwide. Despite large class sizes (35 per classroom in one school) and shoestring budgets, these educators produce outstanding students, undermining the pervasive myth that only "rich kids" can do well in school.About the Author:
Samuel Casey Carter is a former Bradley Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Carter previously served as executive editor of CRISIS, the monthly journal of religion, culture, and public policy founded by Michael Novak.
He received his B.A. in Philosophy and Mathematics from St. John's College in Annapolis. He studied for his licentiate in theology at Blackfriars, Oxford. He is now finishing his doctoral dissertation on the Phenomenology of Jacob Klein for the School of Philosophy at the Catholic University of America.
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