Monday, May 09, 2011

God's Heart for Urban Education 1

Last night David Montague, director of the Memphis Teacher Residency, spoke at NC on the topic of God's Heart for Urban Education. You can listen to the talk here. In my opinion David has one of the voices that needs to be heard when it comes to education reform in our city. Below are some of the notes I took while listening to him.

First, some stats ('cause everybody loves stats, right):
  • Memphis is the 24th largest school district in the U.S.
  • There are 8-10 million students in those 25 largest districts
  • Of those, 50% (4-8 million) will not graduate
  • In 2010, the average ACT score in the city school district was 16.6
  • In the county, the average is 28.3
  • The injustice issue, according to David, is this 70% gap between the rich and the poor
  • Average income for someone who doesn't graduate from high school is $17,000
  • Average income for someone who doesn't graduate from college is under $25,000
  • 90% of public school students in these 25 largest school districts will make under $25,000 for the rest of their lives. This is not sustainable.
David next talked about the role of the church in the history of education reform. He started with the 1800's, during which time it was illegal to educate slaves. He drew heavily from Frederick Douglass' autobiography, which is a free Kindle download. In the 1890's Jim Crow laws emerged, which supposedly gave "separate but equal" status for African-Americans, but in reality was anything but. One of the worst things about all of this is that the people who were passing these laws were sitting in pews on Sunday mornings, not seeing any discrepancies.

Fast forward to 1954, when Brown vs. Board of Education ordered desegregation, and you see another big shift. Now children of different races could go to school together. However, this was not to be the case, because it was during this time that many private schools, many of them opened by churches, began to come into existence. David was quick to point out that the injustice issue was not the opening of these private schools, but the fact that once again we were not putting the same resources into the schools in neighborhoods of choice that we were in neighborhoods of poverty. Check out the recent Memphis Flyer article for more on this.

That's the sad and bad news. Fortunately, David did not stop there. But since this is turning into a rather long blog post, I will. Tomorrow you get the good news!

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