Day 4 of 10: Cup of Race with a Shot of Poverty

January 6, 2015


Alas, the snow found me. While the rest of DC was complaining about having to attend work, we got a much needed delay in our routine schedule. Due to flurries of complications, the Literacy Lab came to us. It was an adventure to say the least.

A little background about the Lab. It is a supplemental tutoring program concentrated in literacy and math which has proven to raise the reading level of students by 1.5 within 42 hours of instruction. Similar to the response we received from Yu-Ying, the Literacy Lab argued that we could solve the money and resource problems of education by fixing the schools of education in order to produce quality teachers and re-establish their respectability. Essentially, investing in long-term quality over quantity and/or quick fixes. However, sustainable change requires a lot more than a great theory and a few good men and women to become a reality.

Throughout our exploration of the education field over these past few days, the topics of race and income came into play more times than a few when defining success and identifying achievement gaps. Some of the great questions from discussion were:

  1. Is race driving or preventing progress or is poverty? 
  2. To what extent are schools segregated in this post-segregation era?
  3. The ability to decide precisely how many students a school will serve, and waitlist/deny others, makes charter schools significantly more limited than public school districts in their public access. By limiting access, charter schools are privatizing public education. In doing so they are doing more harm than good to providing high quality education. They will, in years to come, be deemed as a fad that helped a few and hurt the system. Yes, no or maybe so?

As you can imagine, the responses from the students and the professionals were loaded with personal experience combined with passionate research about such a relevant field.

To give you some background about our working environment on this winter wonderland of a day: the DC Institute was running on shadows and natural light since snow had won the battle for electricity. If you’re wondering what happens when you push through inclement weather instead of canceling and going back to bed, silliness that’s what. Since the heart of DC was essentially closed for business, pizza was delivered with a side of sugary goodness to keep the energy high and tummies fed as part of Lauren & Roxanne’s promise to us. Somewhere along the lines of Eboni occupying the liter of sprite and the water shortage we peer encouraged an impromptu performance of the “Cups” song made popular by Anna Kendrick in Pitch Perfect. Erin dropped that beat while Lauren and Alyssa provided the vocals for the brief seconds it lasted. Honestly, it’s the collection of little memories like this (or the hairball moment which sent Mark to the bathroom in uncontrollable laughter) that make this program worthwhile.

~ Lynelle Haugabrook

Categories: Academics, Community Engagement & Service, Diversity, Student Blogs, Study Away, W&M in Washington Tags: , , , ,

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