gap watch

There is ample evidence that talking to your children early and often can truly make a difference in their future success. The challenge lies is getting all parents to do it - specifically low-income parents whose children historically start kindergarten with far fewer words than their wealthier counterparts. This article highlights a new program in Rhode Island called Providence Talks, "the most ingenious of several new programs across the country that encourage low-income parents to talk more frequently with their kids."

user Frank Juarez / flickr

We've talked about it before, but it's worth repeating: There is a major gap in the way we discipline children in schools.

This New York Times piece highlights not only the race gap but the gender gap as well, citing federal data that shows "black girls in public elementary and secondary schools nationwide were suspended at a rate of 12 percent, compared with a rate of just 2 percent for white girls, and more than girls of any other race or ethnicity" from 2011 to 2012.

Oh but it doesn't end there. Keep reading.

Our friends over at MLive.com have a story out today about what some Michigan colleges are doing to improve graduations rates for black men. Along with the story, they've published a searchable database so you can check graduation rates at any Michigan college, break the rate down by race and then compare the results over time. It's a useful tool.

What did you learn about The Education Gap?

Oct 25, 2013
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

I don't know about you, but I feel like any gap I had in my knowledge about disparities and inequity between schools was closed by Jennifer Guerra's documentary yesterday.

As kids and education gets tossed around like a football between the different stakeholders---parent, administrators, politicians, and the media---the comparison of School X and Meadows in Novi, MI was enlightening from the kids' perspective.

Hear how two 5th grade classrooms can be so different

Oct 22, 2013
School X, on the left, is overcrowded while students at Novi Meadows have plenty of room to stretch out while they read independently.
Jennifer Guerra

A high poverty school in Wayne County is so afraid of the repercussions of speaking honestly about their challenges with staffing, student achievement and discipline it is only willing to go by the moniker "School X." Classrooms are overcrowded, and students have to witness fights in the hallways.

Not many miles away, at Novi Meadows middle school, students begins fifth grade math with number theory, and then have plenty of room to stretch out on small rugs while they read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, or similar books, for independent reading.

How is it that only a few miles away, children can be getting such different educational experiences from the public schools? 

Sometimes a free education just isn't enough

Oct 21, 2013
Jennifer Guerra

This week Jennifer Guerra will take us along as she spends time in fifth grade in two metro Detroit school districts.

The districts have very different economic profiles. One is filled with predominantly middle class families, and one is filled with families living in poverty. 

Are kids in both these districts getting a high quality education?  

The Education Gap [listening guide]

Oct 20, 2013
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Gather round the radio, iPod, or what have you and listen in as Jennifer Guerra takes us into fifth grade in two school districts with very different stories and very different outcomes for kids. Share any of your answers with us, we'd love to know your take. 

Whiteboard: Does zero-tolerance go too far?

Oct 17, 2013

In March of last year, 9th grader Kyle Thompson and his science teacher got into a tug-of-war with a sheet of paper, a “hit list,” that he had written.  The list detailed who the young man wanted to hit on the football field.  In a video produced by the ACLU and later shared on Change.org, Kyle explains, “When we were pulling it back and forth, she was laughing at first, so I thought it was just a joke, but she got serious and I let go and she left the class.  Then the hall monitor came and they escorted me to the office.  The principal told the police officers to take me to the police station.  The scariest part was probably being handcuffed...” You can see the entire video here. 

Kyle ended up being charged with assault and battery, expelled from Farmington Harrison High School and placed on house-arrest.  His fate awaits him at in Oakland County Court today.

National Library of Ireland / Flickr

A person in poverty does not, of course, need something different from their news than a person who is not in poverty.  Hypothetically, that is. 

But today I'm taking part in a small gathering of journalists and community activists that is challenging that proposition.  One of the papers we read to prep for the gathering, by Brian Southwell and others, says people who are lower income have almost equal access to televised news, but don't consume news from print or radio sources as close to as often as people with higher incomes. 

Time poverty

Sep 3, 2013
secuble / Flickr

Time is a limited commodity for everyone. The rich, the poor, and almost everyone in between can be over scheduled and overtired. If you are a regular person, you call this ‘life.’ If you are an academic, you call this ‘time poverty.’