Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Sacramento’s Got the Students on Board with Learning

By on March 25, 2008

In yesterday’s Sacramento Bee, principal Kevin MacDonald did what all principals should be doing: getting their students involved with their own learning solutions, and with solving the achievement gaps in their school.    

You want success?  It MUST involve four mighty branches: the home life, the school, and the student, and the government.  Each branch has a responsibility in the success of a student.  

* Home life must include daily support of learning and checking to see that work is being done.  

* The school must provide fair assessements, unbiased educators with up-to-date and differentiated strategies, engaging classes, challenging opportunities and effective intervention.  

* The student must do their work as assigned, must be present in school, and must behave in a way that allows for the absorption of the lessons.  

* The government must provide enough funding to support the necessary school programs, must support lower-economic families in finding ways to allow them to be home for their kids, and must provide funding for classes in parenting to support families that are still learning of their own importance in the education of their children.  

In case of the Sacramento school, the principal brought in the students to help mind the store.  This involves them in their own learning, critical-thinking, and problem-solving. These are all elements we want them to learn, and in this case, they are using those skills to solve this real-world problem.

How would it look if other schools took up the mantle of transparency and brought in the students to collaborate on tackling some of the hardest questions in education?

Many times, solutions are not found from the top-down, but from the grassroots level.  Districts don’t solve the problems of a school, communities do; and in this case, the success of a student is contingent on those four elements that make up that student’s community: family, policy, school, and self.
I applaud Kevin MacDonald because he dared to make his school’s struggles transparent.  
I applaud Kevin MacDonald because he enabled students to grasp a hold of their own education. 
I applaud Kevin MacDonald because we have here an example of a school building the scaffolding to bridge the achievement gap.  He has begun the dialogue necessary to fill it in with mortar and concrete so that a student of any ethnicity may cross.   
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