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Posted on Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor school board receives harsh assessment of progress on closing the achievement gap

By Kyle Feldscher

The Ann Arbor school board got a harsh assessment of where the district’s efforts to shrink the achievement gap stand Wednesday by officials from the Pacific Education Group.

Glenn Singleton, president and chief executive officer of Pacific Education Group, said the district is doing great work in some buildings to shrink the achievement gap. However, he said he believes principals and other Ann Arbor schools employees in many buildings are afraid to confront racial issues in schools.

“The message they get from administration is go do this equity work, but don’t ruffle any feathers,” Singleton said, pointing to incidents such as the controversy at Dicken Elementary School in 2010. “That’s not working. That’s not working. And when they ruffle feathers, they feel like there’s a sanctioning. Many who are watching from the outside say, ‘I don’t want to be in that position, I’m just going to sit back here.’”

Singleton and his company were hired by the district in 2003 to help the district shrink the achievement gap, the term commonly referred to as the difference in grades, test scores and overall school environment between white and minority students.

The achievement gap has been on the school board’s radar for a decade, district spokesman Liz Margolis said.

The district measures the achievement gap on several levels, from Michigan Education Assessment Program test scores from students' progress in class. It considers race as well as economic disadvantages when it measures the gap.

Schools have made strides in closing the achievement gap with special supplemental math and reading programs, for example, but there is still work to do. Test scores show that 71 percent of eighth grade black students had proficient or advanced MEAP mathematics test scores in the 2009-2010 school year, compared to 94 percent of white students, for example. While it’s less than ideal, it does show progress from 2005-2006, when 48 percent of eighth grade black students were proficient or advanced in math, compared to 90 percent of white students. Eighth grade students receiving free or reduced lunches were 51 percent proficient in math in 2005-2006, compared to 76 proficient in 2009-2010.

Singleton questioned whether trustees and the district had an achievement plan, a question that garnered different responses from different board members. Some said the district had a plan, while others disagreed, and Singleton said that disagreement give the community a reason to wonder if closing the achievement gap is a priority.

“For this amount of time, my feeling would be if there were a concrete plan with strength and teeth behind it, lots of people around the country would know about Ann Arbor’s work and they would visit you for that work and you could be published in that work,” he said.

The district paid the Pacific Education Group $341,000 for their services as of last year. Information on how much they had been paid until the present time was not available Wednesday.

The difficulty in talking about racial issues isn’t limited to the school buildings, trustee Simone Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot said during board meetings trustees will often defer to individual board members on topics such as economics, health issues or special education issues. However, she said she felt she and trustee Susan Baskett did not get the same treatment on matters of race.

“We have to have courageous conversations, and we have to be OK with talking about race,” Lightfoot said.

Baskett said she didn’t believe that the board was going to have a true conversation about race in the near future.

“We haven’t wanted to have this conversation, and we haven’t had it for eight years,” she said. “We have new board members and we may have it but I don’t think it’s gonna happen.”

School board president Deb Mexicotte said trustees are united in the cause to close the achievement gap, mentioning that during the superintendent interviews done earlier this year each trustee had said they’d like to have the gap closed in five years.

She said the board has made policy changes and stated she believed the district had made significant progress toward closing the achievement gap.

“This board has demonstrated through a number of avenues that we are dedicated to this work,” she said. “There has not been a time where we have discussed maybe we should not do this work next year.”

Singleton said the model he has given to the board, which calls for equity work to be done at the board and administration levels before transitioned down to school buildings with principals and teachers taking the lead, is working in some schools.

He said some principals have simply been handed a binder full of equity materials on their first day and told to get started. He said a district-wide equity plan would be needed to do any work on shrinking the achievement gap as a whole in order to allow new principals to have a framework to build on.

“We have to ask, what plan does the district have in place so that the plan doesn’t fall apart when leadership moves on?” he said.

Kyle Feldscher covers K-12 education for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 3:36 a.m.

If the achievement gap vanishes, maybe Mr. Singleton should get a bonus. It seems to me, that as a consultant, he has a vested interest in saying the problem is getting worse. Has Singleton addressed the growing achievement gap between Asian students and the non-minority students? I think it is tragic to see how the non-minority kids needs are being so systematically ignored by this community! Oh the humanity!!!

say it plain

Sat, Apr 16, 2011 : 9:57 p.m.

@kplay, I'd love to give credit where it is due, but I'm not sure that PEG's programs have had a whit to do with the improved scores. I'd love to see a real evaluation of the program, but nothing like that is discernable from either this news-story or the PEG website, on which I can find no info about program *effectiveness* at all. Indeed, the current piece refers to how achievement has been improved "...with special supplemental programs in reading and math"... THIS IS NOT what PEG does!!! I think this needs to be emphasized...if PEG actually DOES include special programs for tutoring and helping teachers 'understand' how to help minority (and or economically challenged) students achieve higher test scores, then somebody please point these out to me! What PEG does--and I think this is reflected in the part of Singleton's evaluation where he claims that if AAPS had been "doing more" then they might have been more 'known' for their work, they might have been 'published' for that work--is very much more on the order of getting schools-full of teachers and students to come to terms with their deep-seated racism so that everyone can finally stop doing all the wrong things to/for students of color. To 'analyse their whiteness' and understand how it serves to perpetuate the 'racial predictability' of lower minority achievement levels. I'm truly not sure --but I'd love to hear!--what community-members get from this in terms of tools to help kids who are behind. It is increased 'acceptance' of differences in style (fostering that for *everyone* would be positive, imo!) I'd hope that before deciding to continue this EXPENSIVE consultancy, AAPS would get input about it from teachers and administrators, and about the gap and what they feel has made a difference for them in upping student achievement. Kyle, did any of's coverage of the Patricia Green hiring process include info about how she felt about this gap effort?!


Sat, Apr 16, 2011 : 6:11 p.m.

Well Kplay --- because it's costing a ton of money to an already strapped budget and , in my opinion, Mr. Singleton is preaching reverse racism . If white teachers can't teach black students then does that mean that black teachers aren't going to be able to teach white students without going through training as well? Call me crazy, but i thought we'd reached a point in our history where we were finally trying to treat everyone as equal and move on here. A struggling student needs extra help, a struggling family needs extra help. I'm not convinced it matters what color they are. And when a Principal (like at Dicken Elementary) decides to focus on one color and forget that the school is made up of diverse colors, then that Principal is no good . Capiche.


Sat, Apr 16, 2011 : 3:13 a.m.

What i see is a 23 point pickup (nearly 50% improvement) in 4 years measured by race, and a 25 point pickup (again a 50% improvement) measured by economic status. Look, it may not yet be perfect but let's give credit where credit's due: the teachers and programs have made a definite and important positive impact. Why do we jump to run it down rather than build on the success?

say it plain

Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 4:04 p.m.

To follow up on some issues @ellybelle's link brings up... Who hired Singleton in the first place and when? That link gives stories about a district hiring him without its school board's approval, and I just wonder what the history of AAPS's hiring this guy looked like. Because it really does look like pretty much *all* his 'group' does is promote the (arguably very divisive) idea that it is systemic, institutional racism In the schools themselves (not just within the larger society mind you! I'd love to hear how teachers who've been subjected to the training like this stuff!) which allows for an achievement gap. It seems his message includes how we need to understand how deeply 'different' black people are from 'white people' and that white people need to understand how they are inherently granted privileges via their whiteness and we need to stop accepting their 'ways' (like, so it is claimed, "their" 'future-time orientation') as the 'right way'. While one can certainly contemplate such things, I'm not sure that it would help anybody achieve anything in the classroom, but I'd love to hear reports from AAPS if it has been a factor in their (limited) successes at closing the gap!


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 5:40 p.m.

exactly. and with the millage renewal coming up, taxpayers may think that by renewing the millage, it frees up more money from the general fund for consultants like this. i hope that doesn't happen, but if they are asking for the millage to be renewed, it opens their books for questioning.

say it plain

Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 5:25 p.m.

certainly we can turn the spending of a *lot* of money on a controversial program into a valid question, can't we? I do not oppose considering all sorts of factors when addressing equity as a topic in our school systems, but check out this guy's rhetoric and approach and see whether you think it would be a reasonable idea to lay out this kind of money in the noble goal of improving minority student achievement levels! I've been in sociology classes as an undergraduate where we had the sorts of attempts at 'courageous conversations' about race that he seems to advocate, and while this might be a great goal for a community, I surely don't see how this translates to changes in practices that might truly affect *anything* education-wise, and might indeed do damage in some ways. This isn't paper clip requisitions, it's sort of a big deal decision.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 5:18 p.m.

It is not a "witch hunt." It is called freedom of information. When the taxpayers are repeatedly asked to come up with more money we have the right to know how every cent is being spent. This was a waste of money. Set up mandatory tutoring at all grade levels and set expectations for classroom behavior and stick to them. Stop looking for excuses and blame and start making kids realize that school is not fun and games, it is work! Valuable work.

Basic Bob

Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 4:54 p.m.

"Who hired Singleton in the first place and when?" An employee of AAPS did it with authorization as required by AAPS policy. Don't turn it into a witch hunt. We can't turn every decision into a voter referendum.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 3:51 p.m.

Another question for Kyle about PEG expenses: On another article from 2/21/10 titled "Ann Arbor school districts spend 33% etc...." there is a link for consultant contracts for AAPS for 2008-2009 & 2009-2010. In those years, PEG received contracts for $93,301 and $94,500 respectively. Is it possible for you to find out the contract amounts for the 4 school years prior (this article states AAPS has had a relationship with PEG since 2003). It seems those two years alone have used up half of the $341,000 and was wondering what was paid the other years and why/and by how much did the contracts go up each year? thanks!

say it plain

Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 3:04 p.m.

oops... I misunderstood the breakdown of spending in MN schools...apparently it was close to 2 million earmarked for overall funding for 'achievement-gap' type programs all told, and then various school districts had spent different amounts on PEG services specifically. Sorry about that! Maybe all we've sunk on this particular set of programs coming from PEG... Still seems like an awful lot, especially if their bottom-line is essentially selling the "courageous conversations .." idea without any apparent plan to get even the BOARD to have one!

say it plain

Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 2:39 p.m.

Ooh, wow, Kyle... do a *big* look-see into how much money AAPS has spent with PEG, because I suspect it might truly shock everyone! I don't know anything about them, but there is a conservative activist type person in Eden Prairies MN Schools that reports on a number of issues relevant to this company, including some apparent kerfluffle in Seattle schools vis a vis lawsuits on how they'd treated the issue of race as a part of PEG program advice or influence, it sounds like. see this link for a little more on this scene in MN schools... <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Their claim is that MN schools had spent close to 2 million all told on his 'services' which does perhaps require additional staff training to boot. If AAPS has had a long-term relationship with this guy then it might be that the 341K is a drop in the overall bucket, wow! That's a lot of money to spend on 'program' that leaves even the board itself (and as per his own PEG website, the comprehensive services to address the systematic racism...his words not a given school district is supposed to be all-encompassing, from the board on down in a logical and deliberately planned way) arguing about whether they've had a 'plan' in place to deal with gaps in achievement. His own website, it must be said, doesn't offer too much in the way of showing results. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> There are lots of 'awards' though from various organizations I've never heard of, plus a 'million dollar book' award from his publishing house lol, like the way real estate agents get 'top seller volume' awards you know?! Still, it's glossy and all, and I'd love to hear how the board settled on spending the money for his services rather than on something else. I'd also love to hear assessments of his program *from teachers* who've had to go through it!


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 12:53 p.m.

The schools should help the kids that are behind--- but not at the expence of the children that are ahead. Slowing down the leaders is counter productive if the USA wants to compete with the rest of the world in math and science. Not one A2 high school football team would slow down its star running back in order to accommodate the slower athletes.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 9:33 a.m.

Kyle your last two articles should have read: &quot;Insignificant number of teachers absent on day of Snyder protest&quot; &quot;Progress made closing Ann Arbor Schools achievement gap, hired consultants not impressed&quot;.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 2:06 a.m.

First of all, this is a ridiculous waste of money (even if well intended). Secondly, my wife and I volunteer regularly at the school in our neighborhood, and we see underachievement among students of all races and cultural background (regardless of what the MEAP results suggest). I understand with these economic times that it may be difficult for some families to be as directly involved with their children's education than what would be considered ideal, and I consider myself lucky to be able to volunteer as much as I do. I cannot emphasize enough how important parental involvement and volunteering is in promoting the success of all students (without racial lines). Also, there are summer programs available in the AAPS, such as the Think Stretch Program, READ 180 and System 44. They provide creative and fun ways to keep students practicing their skills over the summer to prevent summer brain drain. I highly encourage inquiring about these programs at the schools. No need to send me $341,000, either.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 3:44 a.m.

@ proudtobeme: I do not doubt that there are some parents who themselves lack education. Also, you were right with your previous post that there are many ways that parents can get involved. In fact, the majority of the volunteer work that my wife and I do at the school isn't spent with our children, but the children who seem to need the support the most, whether it be having the students read to us, helping the students with their math books, helping them stay on task to complete assignments when they fall behind, etc... Just a little time like that spent by more parents/volunteers can make a difference.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 2:47 a.m.

Seriously,if every parent read to their child every day (starting at a very early age) and continued to do so until (?) at least they are reading at grade level on their own, I bet we would not have 1/2 of the problems with the &quot;achievement gap&quot;. Is all it takes a minimum of 20 minutes a day (and more if you can.) My guess is maybe this is not happening because the parents themselves cannot for thought.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 1:59 a.m.

The interesting thing about Singleton and PEG is...they stereotype all black, white, and brown people. If you are black, you must be disadvantaged and suffer at the ends of the institution. If you are white, you are wealthy. You can probably say with confidence that more people of color are lower SES (proportionally) in Ann Arbor than white/Asian, and more Asian/white are middle to higher SES...OK. Ann Arbor should be focusing on students of all color, black, white, brown, yellow that are not doing well. We have great black students in the district in which their parents are successful, articulate, and well-spoken. These students tend to hang around others that share their values. The other people that share their value system or background, may or may not be black, white, Asian, Hispanic, or Arabic. People like others like themselves, but not necessarily based on race. Maybe it's people like Glenn Singleton that are the ones that really have the issue. Students that are low achieving tend to stick together, just as students that are high achieving. I hope PEG's contract is not renewed. This would be a courageous conversation to have.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 2:14 a.m.

Completely agree with you. I think you can easily connect the dots about what happened at Dicken last Spring and $ingleton and PEG. As the other person posted, he has lucrative business pedaling his &quot;solutions&quot; to the achievement gap and unfortunately leaves a trail of bitterness/divisiveness in the school districts he &quot;consults&quot;.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 1:22 a.m.

Has anyone actually done any research on what this PEG group preaches in its glorified attempt at solving the achievement gap. I think a story giving detailed information about that would open the eyes to the public about what and why 'some principals and schools' are hesitant to let loose to Gary Singletons' methods. And also why other districts have run him out of town. But he's obviously selling it to some of us because he's sitting pretty in his expensive new office buildings leaching away hundreds of thousands of dollars from already tapped school districts. sigh. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

say it plain

Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 3:48 p.m.

wow, I just read through some of this link, and it's very interesting!


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 1:47 a.m.

There's a lot of truth to this article posted by ellybelle. Years ago, I saw in one of our middle schools white privilege, institutional racism posted on one of the walls. These &quot;courageous conversations&quot; that we should supposedly be having are racially divisive and inaccurate. There are ways to improve how the district functions in regards to different groups, but PEG is not the solution. Let's save 100K a year and think for ourselves.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 11:32 p.m.

The only way to close the achievement gap would be to give a grade school education and an appreciation for education to the parents. And that's a bit ridiculous, isn't it? Sadly, even the best wishes of liberals cannot be achieved by wishing harder, especially when they act directly whilst ignoring second order effects.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 11:56 p.m.

Yes, fascism is the only answer. That'll &quot;teach&quot; em.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 11:17 p.m.

I think it fair and honest to acknowledge up front that more of our AA and Hispanic students come from lower income homes than our white or Asian students. Lower income families are less likely to own their own home. So many of our minority students switch schools frequently because their parents rent their home. Sometimes they switch within districts and sometimes they move from one district to another. Even moving within the district can be detrimental if the student is behind. It takes time to determine if a new student is struggling and the new procedures in place to provide extra services can take months. Another huge problem is that while interventions are available for students who fall behind, there is no retention, no gateway. Students advance from one grade to the next regardless of how low their reading level is, regardless of how weak their math skills are. Yes, we continue to provide interventions but there simply isn't time. If a student didn't master a skill the first time, odds are they are going to struggle to master it this time and it will take time and perseverance to learn it. At the same time, we are asking them to learn the new skills in their new grade level which are based on the skills they didn't master. Even IF they are able to be brought up to their current grade level skills, they will most likely not have mastered this years skills and so the deficit continues. I think we do a huge disservice to our students in allowing them to progress regardless of their competency. Do they necessarily need to repeat the 5th grade? No but neither should they go on to 6th just yet. We need an in between grade at least once every few years, a catch up grade for the kids (regardless of color) who have significant deficits in academic skills.

Tony Livingston

Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 1:35 a.m.

Summer school programs would help them catch up but not have to fall behind in the grade.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 12:24 a.m.

There is significant research to support the idea that retention (ie. repeating a grade) is not beneficial. Simply having a child do again what they couldn't do the year before isn't really helpful. I've never seen a student retained in AA that wasn't at the parents specific request. What I am talking about would not be the traditional retention but more of a chance to catch up. There would have to be new content in Science and Social Studies that doesn't repeat what they did the year before nor preteach what they will do next year. And there would have to be significant work to recover the math skills.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 12:02 a.m.

those are very good points. i am a little surprised though, are you saying they never hold anyone back a grade even if they are flunking subjects? that just seems like a recipe for disaster right there.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 10:20 p.m.

Been reading about this for years. There is an achievement gap. What never appears in print and what is never mentioned by school administrators or teachers is why. No one comes forward and gives an explanation. So we read about it. And the school is paying a &quot;consultant.&quot; to confirm it, but even the consultant avoids giving us an explanation, a common denominator, common to any child who under performs, minority or otherwise. Lacking that the assumption is racism. My African American children attended AAPS and confronted no racism. I do not like administrators who have to hire outsiders to figure something out for them. I prefer people in office who know how to run the place. I suppose however that the new superintendent will no longer need Mr. Singleton's services. At her pay rate, she must surely know how to deal with issue, and hurray for that since they will need that $ to pay her.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 10:57 p.m.

you are correct, she should not need Mr $ingleton's services since she mentioned that she won the 2011 Spirit of Unity Award for her work with diversity. Dump PEG and she will already be earning her salary.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 10:10 p.m.

Thank you for bringing up what I have been saying for years! Student success in school has everything to do with parent involvement. I am a teacher and my students who are the most successful are the students whose parents volunteer in the classroom,help with homework,read with their child every night. In fact the students who are most successful are the students that were read to by their parents consistently starting at a very young age. My students who are not successful in school are the ones whose parents don't return my calls,follow through on homework,attend conferences,etc. Parent involvement,not color,has everything to do with student success in school.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 1:59 a.m.

EVERY successful student I have had,has come from a supportive family. EVERY unsuccessful student has come from a family that does not support them academically. (Please notice I did not say they are bad parents.) Even my students who are achieving at a lower level than their peers but are making significant progress,have supportive parents.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 1:33 a.m.

just for the record,there are many ways a parent can be involved in their child's education. It doesn't have to always be helping out in the classroom,etc. There are some parents I only see at conferences but they are definitely involved in their child's education.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 10:20 p.m.

You hit it on the head. I am glad you have the guts to say it because lets be honest, most teachers can't/won't say it. My buddy, a teacher, says the same thing all the time. In fact, he stated that a few of his African American students are doing extremely well because he gets weekly check-ins from these parents and you can tell they are valuing education. This is more of a parent thing then even Singleton wants to admit. My idea, trying getting to parents and see what happens.

Hot Sam

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 9:22 p.m.

&quot;&quot;&quot;bill at 8:19 AM on April 14, 2011 Again, it is about class, not race. Case in point.&quot;&quot;&quot; I would contend that is more about &quot;culture&quot; than class. When young people succumb to a pop culture that encourages and celebrates ignorance, bad attitudes, abuse of women etc. you will continue to get this &quot;gap&quot;.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 8:59 p.m.

Also, for all of you who want to blame it on the parents (or anything specific and easily defined), you should become consultants and solve this problem where it exists - all over the country. Research has shown that poverty is a much bigger factor than race, but AA will never come close to resolving this problem until they look at the research - or do they have to get parental permission for this, too?


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 10:18 p.m.



Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 8:56 p.m.

Someone might want to educate Liz Margolis; the achievement gap is not new, it's been around for many many years, not just the last 10. If AA only discovered it 10 years ago they should be ashamed.

Momma G

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 8:15 p.m.

I definitely agree with Sunset and have said this all along! Get to the parents and help them get involved with their kids education, then you will have &quot;involved&quot; successful students - PERIOD!


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 7:37 p.m.

It is a disservice to black students to have low expectations for them, but in many cases that's exactly what is happening. Schools can't do it all, but they should try foster a supportive environment for high expectations for all students, including behavioral expectations. Students learn very quickly when double standards apply.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 7:02 p.m.

Question for Kyle: does the $341,000 paid to PEG include all their workbooks and Singleton's own book and his seminars in ann arbor, or are those expenses above and beyond? It has been my understanding that teachers are required to read his book and attend PEG-based workshops---these expenses are part of the $341,000?

Kyle Feldscher

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 7:06 p.m.

That is a good question. I'm going to be following up on the PEG's work with the district, including relevant expenses up to this point. I'll make sure to find out what the most current expense is and what all of that entails. Thank you for the question, adds another layer to the things I have to look into.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 6:01 p.m.

This is ABSOLUTELY a Parental problem- I have substituted in the A2 schools, attended them, and sent two kids through of my own- I will not accept that it is the faculty or the admin. it is the parents! The attitude passed on from generation to generation that they are owed something - that the rules do not apply- that the parents will &quot;kick your ass&quot; or worse, if you try to discipline their kid. The kids are bold and disrespectful, they don't care and neither do their parents. It has to come from the parents and the community in which they live, that is the ONLY way this racial thing will ever end. The teachers and aids and bus drivers are rightfully intimidated by a thug mentality. Ann Arbor is so far behind the times in this respect and the only ones that suffer long term are the kids. Wake up the guilty - lazy parents of theses kids and make them accountable and A2 schools may have chance- continue the with the cowering and placating and there will be no progress, ever. I once had to escort a child form Pioneer to Huron high and I could not believe what the bus driver had to tolerate from these young hooligans- it was horrible and dangerous! i reported it and NO one did a thing!

Basic Bob

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 6:48 p.m.

&quot;The attitude passed on from generation to generation that they are owed something - that the rules do not apply... bold and disrespectful, they don't care... that is the ONLY way... rightfully intimidated by a thug mentality. Ann Arbor is so far behind the times in this respect and the only ones that suffer long term are the kids. Wake up... make them accountable and A2 schools may have chance- continue the with the cowering and placating and there will be no progress, ever.&quot; &quot;it was horrible and dangerous... and NO one did a thing!&quot; You just described the AAEA!


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 6:23 p.m.

This is not helpful to the AA BOE, they need to know how many $100k per year &quot;Gap Consultants&quot; can fix this. If they can't sit back and pretend to fix a problem by hiring high priced but ineffective consultants ... well then they can't go home at night feeling all good about themselves.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 6:16 p.m.

Well said. Thank you for posting this!


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 5:40 p.m.

We need a &quot;Gap Consultant&quot; to address the achievment of our &quot;Gap Consultant&quot;. Or better yet one to address the performance of our school board that just threw $341k down a rat hole, pursuing BS PC liberal ideaological fixes to social problems - in other words &quot;throw money at it&quot;.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 5:36 p.m.

Everyone is ignoring &quot;The Bell Curve&quot; ---- Asians do better than Whites. Whites do better than Blacks. Stop wasting money and energy fighting it. It will never change.

Basic Bob

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 5:21 p.m.

Ann Arbor BOE problem solving flow chart: Step 1. Hire a consultant to identify the problem Step 2. Receive consultant's report Step 3. Pay the consultant to develop a course of action Step 4. Ignore recommendations of consultant Step 5. Fire consultant Step 6. Declare success

Rob Pollard

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 7:04 p.m.

I'm not sure I know what &quot;Step 4&quot; was from the above story. The only thing I noticed was (as discussed in other comments) his praising of the efforts at Dicken Elementary, which were illegal, but perhaps there were others. Did he have specific - and I mean specific - recommendations? If he did, that would be a great addendum to this article. If he just spoke in generalities about &quot;you need to do more equity work&quot; and &quot;create a culture of such and such,&quot; that's nice, but I would need details. I do agree with Step 5, though.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 5:10 p.m.

Outrageous! The district pays this guy a third of a million bucks to help move it forward and then he trash talks us because he doesn't deliver?! Forget about politics - this guy's a shyster, any way you look at it


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 5:13 p.m.

exactly! and it's never his fault, it's everyone else's because they can't have &quot;courageous conversations&quot;!


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 4:30 p.m.

If this consultant is saying that berating children in an elementary school about race is helpful in the achievement gap, fire him. Now. A program that violates state law and district policy is problematic - if your gap consultant thinks thats ok, you are getting bad advice. If they are spinning the issues like the Dicken issue into 'don't ruffle feathers' instead of 'don't berate children', the rest of what they have to say must be suspect. Stop paying them immediately.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 4:11 p.m.

Asians to the rescue!!! According to the most recent census data our achievement gap should be dwindling with the influx of asians in to the AA community. They do qualify as non-white in our so called color blind community don't they?


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 4:31 p.m.

don't forget Asian Indians!


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 3:39 p.m.

If we want to &quot;close the gap&quot;, the obvious thing to do is the same as when walking as a group -impede the front runners. Much easier, faster and cheaper. Less focus on &quot;the gap&quot; and which groups of students it separates, and more on the individual students (and maybe families) would help. It may well turn out that parenting is a factor -few would deny that the &quot;tiger-mom&quot; parenting style could be a factor with the Asian sucess mentioned previously- but does that means we all should or could be tiger moms? If parenting is a factor -if the low achievers are predominantly from low income, single parent families, for example- what are we going to do about that? Are we going to force single parents to find a partner and a higher paying job? No? Then how much does it matter that that is a factor in the student's failure to thrive? What matters is what we can do to help the student. In so many cases, understanding the cause can help with the solution. Here, I suspect, not so much. So let's stop arguing about whether it's black or poor children who are behind and just get on with the job of helping them be all that they can be. Whatever it takes. And let's not do it by impeding the kids who are already running. Let's not focus on the gap, but on improving the &quot;running speed&quot; of each and every student rather than particular subgroups.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 3 p.m.

Poor parents are not bad parents. You cannot separate economic status from ability to provide a nurturing environment. Parents that must work two or three jobs just to keep their family under a roof and with food in their mouths do not have the opportunities others do to get involved with their children. We can guess all day at what the solutions may be; but if we don't address the root of the problem, we won't be able to solve it. Underachievers enter a cycle that is hard to break. They see their future in what they see around them. They cannot believe that they can be engineers or business people. They see their future as a life in the projects battling it out against a system that is against them. They don't feel like they belong to the Ann Arbor culture. They feel like unwanted guests. The solution, as I see it, is to show underachievers that they are wanted and that they have value. This cannot be done out pity or in a way that makes them &quot;special.&quot; They don't want to be special! They want to belong and we should want them to belong. A mind is a terrible thing to waste and we are wasting way too many. It is in our interest to close the social gaps, the educational gaps will solve themselves. Get involved with your fellow citizens. I meet minority citizens everday. Believe me, they love their children and want the best for them, but they feel alienated. Fix that!

Wolf's Bane

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 5:41 p.m.

Again, you missed the point. The poorer folks usually don't value education and because they don't value education the cycle persists and that's it.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 4:06 p.m.

I admit that my rant above was not as well thought out as it could have been. I welcome your comments. I just think it is presumptuous to believe this gap can be closed solely in the classroom. I think there is inequity between our schools. I think it is wrong, but I don't know how we fix it. I admire braggslaw's sense of personal responsibilty and I wish I knew how to instill that in others. My sense of responsibility did not come from within. It came from outside and it included a responsibility to the community as well.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 3:27 p.m.

I would not have kids if I was on public assistance. I waited until I had stable finances 10 years after I met my wife


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 3:27 p.m.

point taken sillytree, but why wouldn't you want your children not have the same fate by doing as much as possible to ensure that doesn't happen? ann arbor does seem to offer more opportunities than other communities in this regard. Out of curiosity, what is your opinion on the divisions of Title 1 schools---do you think it is good that only some schools are so that kids from certain neighborhoods are lumped together or do you think it would be more beneficial to spread it out more, ie. while Dicken is a Title 1 school, Lawton, Eberwhite and Bach are not although they are on the same side of town?

Rob Pollard

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 3:19 p.m.

I don't agree with everything you've written above, but I can appreciate your spirit of good will and thoughts about taking an interest in showing everyone has value. I would say that the problem with the PEG approach is that they seem to want to start &quot;special&quot; programs for certain students, when all could benefit (not to mentioned laws that would potentially be broken if there were only certain, school-sponsored programs for Latino or for black students). If it's a good idea to start a mentoring program, then start a mentoring program that's open to everyone. It's a good idea, generally speaking, to make sure those mentors come from many professions and many backgrounds so if you want to contact a black professional association to see if they would like to contribute mentors - great! Just make sure you contact other clubs, both of a more general and a more specific nature.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 3:12 p.m.

How important would you feel if you had to live on public assistance? Would you feel like you belong?


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 3:08 p.m.

what about parents who do not work but areon public assistance? what is their excuse?

Rob Pollard

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 2:56 p.m.

What exactly did Mr. Singleton mean when he said &quot;The message they get from administration is go do this equity work, but don't ruffle any feathers," Singleton said, pointing to incidents such as the controversy at Dicken Elementary School in 2010. "That's not working. And when they ruffle feathers, they feel like there's a sanctioning.&quot; Does he feel it was incorrect that there was a &quot;sanctioning&quot; of the Dicken principal who was setting up a program in violation of state law? I hope that wasn't what he was saying. School employees can't violate the law. In any case, if we have been working with this PEG group for close to a decade and things haven't improved, perhaps PEG and their &quot;equity work&quot; approach is the problem. Time to find another, less expensive and more effective solution.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 3:07 p.m.

i think that is exactly what he is saying. this is from a meeting sponspored by Ms. Lightfoot and Ms. Baskett that was detailed in an ariticle in the Ann Arbor Journal titled &quot;Schools: Achievement Gap or Equity Gap&quot; (and i believe had a link in a prior article). this was the second bulletin point that came from the meeting: *Support those who step up to take initiative, such as Mike Madison, principal at Dicken Elementary;

Basic Bob

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 2:52 p.m.

I suspect that AAPS board will terminate the PEG contract, because it contradicts what they want to hear. We will keep blaming the victims on this issue, and that is politically acceptable to the educated middle class majority in the district. This is not simply politically-correct racial nonsense. All other things being equal, there is a difference in the quality of education available to different schools and different subgroups of students. This is a well-researched national problem that is supported by statistics locally.

Rob Pollard

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 3:27 p.m.

It certainly is a well-research problem, but has PEG ever demonstrated they have the solution? He seems to indicate he wants more programs like the Dicken School example, which are complete non-starters as they are illegal. In any case, someone needs to come in and show they have a program that works and then we can hire that person/group. I've seen no evidence from PEG that they've done that, in Ann Arbor or elsewhere.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 2:51 p.m.

I am and was very tough on my kids I told them I expected A's, I forced the to do their homework every night, I spent at least an hour every night tutoring math and science etc.... I told them nobody will give you anything in life, you have to earn it..... so far so good. Ultimately I don' know how their lives will turn out because it is in their hands but I devoted every free hour I had to them. The hardest and most worthwhile activities in my life have been spent with mykids.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 2:59 p.m.

when i am going over/helping my kids with their homework, i always wonder about the kids who's parent(s) are unable to do this for whatever reasons. underachieving has a lot to do with what happens at home no matter what color you are.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 2:30 p.m.

They are wasting their time. The real achievement gap is not with the whites but with the Asian students. They are the top achievers. Why aren't we spending money trying to figure out why nobody is as smart as them?


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 3 p.m.

tiger moms ;)

Basic Bob

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 2:53 p.m.

Perhaps their parents still beat them and no one knows.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 2:17 p.m.

$341,000.00! What were the results? How much more money will be thrown at this? The AAPS will not have a hard time finding recipients for their dollars. I remember some years back when the AAPS hired Blanche Pringle to be the GAP Administrator. That cost us $450,000.00 . Now the same old issues are revisited. You can't buy your way out of a social problem.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 2:05 p.m.

I would be quite interested to hear one of you who is blaming parenting explain why black people are worse parents than white people. I'm sure you'll backtrack and deny that that's what you mean - but that's what you're explicitly saying. You're not even just implying it.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 2:35 a.m.

The data appears to support the idea that culturally 'black people'(as you put it) don't value education as much as Asians. How else do you explain it? Same schools, same teachers, same materials and consistently different outcomes. At a minimum you must consider outside influences like parenting. Its time to be truthful about racial differences and candid about possible cause/effect and solutions. Brutal honesty stinks, but it is better than hand wringing and pretending it can't be the parents.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 3:12 p.m.

There are a number of factors that figure into the achievement gap. Socioeconomic status, single parent households, and peer pressure. Although the first 2 may appear to be obvious issues, the third one is surpising. Often children within a specific ethnic group are ridiculed for being a high achiever. To fit in, they will purposely fail. There needs to be outside forces that show how this attitude proves to be unsuccessful in future endeavors.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 2:27 p.m.

Hi Peter, I don't read the same thing you do. I think the point is that it is a social problem, not a school problem. There is a strong statistical correlation between educational achievement of successive generations. I might even suggest that by spending 341k to close the educational gap based on race alone the district is suggesting that black kids are somehow less educable and they are doing more harm with that attitude.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 2:01 p.m. Please listen to Cook1888 suggestion and do some background research on how long the achievement gap has been an issue and how much money has been spent on creating various initiatives to solve it. Then bring this information to the community and let's have a mature non threathening, non accusatory conversation about what is really going on. There's an elephant in room that no one wants to have an open, honest discussion about and until that takes place, we will be discussing this achievement gap for the next 100 years.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 1:52 p.m.

I think a story with additional information about how many lawsuits the Pacific Education Group has been involved in would be useful. Also, some of his philosophies he doles out at his diversity training seminars would be informative. How close is his assessment in terms of his contract expiration?


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 1:22 p.m.

Nothing has changed in the 20 years I've been living here -- same failed efforts to close the gap followed by declarations of renewed dedication, followed by another failure, followed by yet another plan... There are other districts around the country like Ann Arbor -- high achieving college-towns with an under-performing minority population. If any of these other places had succeeded, Ann Arbor could emulate what has worked -- except that to my knowledge, none of those other districts has been successful in closing their achievement gaps either. An approach that has shown some success with minority students -- Direct Instruction -- is antithetical to Ann Arbor's liberal politics and would never be accepted by the AAEA (and, to be honest, as a well-off, educated parent, I would not have wanted formulaic Direct Instruction for my own kids). I don't see any easy (or even any hard) answers. I expect we'll still be here in another 20 years.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 12:45 p.m.

Motivation to achieve seems to be the main point here. It should always be a parents goal to start early in setting the direction and expectations of each child. Second, engage your child in the real facts of what goal setting means in their lives. Don't be afraid to spell out just what your child can expect to happen in the real world without a good education. Stress that their interest are important, but a good rounded education will get them faster to where they want to be personally, professionally and financially. Third, support and get involved in the classroom experience with your child. You don't have to physically be there to see what they are learning, the methods used and if your child is learning. I don't know one teacher who would not welcome input and involvement in their classroom by any parent. Share with the teacher what you see as road blocks with your child and be honest about it. A particular teachers teaching methods may not work for your child, so as a parent, share what you think would and be prepared to assist the teacher with implementation and backup. Education doesn't begin or end in the time a child attends schooling, but rather is a process throughout their life. Support this process by setting goals and asking the right questions to measure your child's comprehension. Hard work is never easy, but today's children are going to be expected more of then my generation.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 12:40 p.m.

$341,000 to analyze data to determine if there is still an achievement gap? Anyone in the math depts could have done it for a lot less.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 12:31 p.m.

However, she said she felt her and trustee Susan Baskett did not get the same treatment on matters of race. Gee wiz. Please check your grammar unless you were quoting someone. And if you were quoting a school board member, wow, they really have grammar issues.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 10:46 p.m.

That is a bit hard. &quot;She said she felt she&quot; (?) Maybe at least one proper noun might help in that statement.

Tony Dearing

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 2:10 p.m.

That has been corrected. Thanks.

Wolf's Bane

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 12:18 p.m.

I'm usually in disagreement with Macabre Sunset on virtually any story posted on, but in this case he (she?) makes an excellent point. Education starts at home and continues at school. Parenting is the lynch pin here, not race. Want to close the education gap, convince a majority of households that don't value education to care and lay the ground work to enable hardworking poor Americans an opportunity to have more time with their children while also maintaining a comfortable living status. Race has nothing to do with this situation at all. It is about class, not race.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 10:42 p.m.

Just raising another it really about class? In general, are most families that live in Ann Arbor and attend the schools here part of the same soci-economic class? If they weren't how could they afford to live in this community. So is it really a class issue or a parental issue?


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 11:59 a.m.

"For this amount of time, my feeling would be if there were a concrete plan with strength and teeth behind it, lots of people around the country would know about Ann Arbor's work and they would visit you for that work and you could be published in that work," he said. Um, wasn't this guy supposed to have the plan? He wants Ann Arbor to be the shining example of his plan, because....nobody else has managed to deliver anywhere else in the country and he doesn't have a place where he has consulted that has delivered and he can point to as the place to visit or be published about. So he comes here and says this? Have mercy, the board is being had.....


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 11:57 a.m.

Some board members say Ann Arbor School District has a plan, while other board members say it doesn't. This, in itself, identifies a major problem and supports the consultants' finding that appropriate training must start with the board and administration first. Perhaps those among us who believe that &quot;parenting&quot; is the major reason for achievement gaps could also benefit from diversity training.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 11:46 a.m.

Why does the Asian minority consistently test better than the white majority? What is the school district doing to close that gap?


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 10:32 p.m.

Bill and Smokerblwr...I agree with both of your points. I've always felt that kids scholastic performance is greatly impacted by their parent(s) expectations and involvement; regardless of ethnicity or race. I was just raising the question to make others think about the expectations people place on the schools, rather than the parent(s) of the child.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 2:37 p.m.

Heh, I responded waaaay down below before reading all the posts. I agree 100%. If you want to look at the hard facts, it is family situations that primarily drives students' success in school. Now, I'm just pulling this out of my @#$@# but I bet most Asian families in the Ann Arbor area are two parent households. That in itself I bet counts for a lot. Combine that with instilling a strong value on education in the kids and your get spelling bee champions, 4.6 GPAs and scholarships to Harvard.

Wolf's Bane

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 12:19 p.m.

Again, it is about class, not race. Case in point.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 11:45 a.m.

Why does any gap need to be closed? Why don't we spend our efforts on improving achievement for everyone?


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 6:39 p.m.

I say just st bring everyone down to the lowest level. Problem solved. Who needs education, we can be &quot;gap consultants&quot;.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 11:41 a.m.

So are those who are asserting that there is a &quot;parenting-gap&quot; rather than an achievement gap, saying that the significant achievement gap in mathematics and sciences between asian and all other racial/ethnic groups is largely due to parenting?


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 3:50 a.m.

@skigirl... Completely agree. The Asian student gets an 89, the parent shudders. Simply put, the Asian student outwork all others, generally speaking. I am not saying it's great to be so grade hungry, but you cannot deny the levels of achievement. At the high school level, some low achieving students have some sweet shoes, phones, iPods, etc. But they put forth no effort and have no desire to be much besides a baller, rapper, etc. They spend their day fighting with teachers, causing problems, and generally just being disrespectful. They have no concept of a sound financial future, and because of this they don't achieve. At all levels, it's pretty typical - this is regardless of color - that kids that don't perform typically have parents that don't know how to parent. The kids are 12 and run the house, dictating what goes on. The parents blame the teachers, even though they fail class after class, year after year. It's simplistic to say the parents don't want their kids to be successful, but that also doesn't mean that they do what they need to do for their kids to be successful. Big difference. Most of the Ann Arbor parents do a great job raising their kids. A small percentage need to attend parenting 101, or at least just listen to the admins/counselors/teachers. Their there to help if they are willing.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 10:38 p.m.

I'm a coach. I am an inspirational speaker. Kids listen to me. I understand them and I make sure they understand me. Will Rogers never met a man he didn't like. I never met a kid I didn't like. We go from there.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 6:44 p.m.

While it's difficult to address your comment without potentially offending a group, my Asian friends growing up told me their parents were very aggressive about insisting they not only complete their homework, but they focus on extra work in math and sciences because it will lead to better jobs. We know the genetic differences between the races are pretty much zero. Ann Arbor has mostly minority principals and many minority teachers, so I think the effort to provide equal opportunity is genuine. My son isn't picking up any racial nastiness. So there are either two possibilities: either the parenting environment is different or attempts to close this perceived gap are actually increasing this gap. While I would imagine the curse of lowered expectations is harmful, and there might well be harm in trying to address this issue in a racial manner, I think the core of the problem lies in a lack of support from parents. Children of parents who emphasize education, surprisingly, will perform much better in the classroom. And this will lead to better job opportunities as an adult. This isn't exactly rocket science.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 3:58 p.m.

As I've seen it, yes.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 12:45 p.m.

@skigirl50 Your point is well-taken. I agree with you that it is not all parenting and that we would see greater improvement if more parents valued education and became more involved in their children's educational programs. I also strongly agree that uninvolved, or under-involved parents should not blame the schools when their children aren't achieving!


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : noon

Perhaps you should ask some high school teachers how many Asian parents attend their children's parent/teacher conferences. While you're at it, check and see how many of them are on PowerSchool everyday making sure their work is handed in and how they are doing on tests, quizzes. It's not all parenting, but if a parent doesn't value learning, why would a child value it... If a parent blames a child's failure on the schools instead of looking at what they can do, instead of blame, maybe we would see some progress.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 11:38 a.m.

@Happy Fun Ball. Ann Arbor does offer summer school for certain grades. So many teachers trying to make ends meet apply for these positions that they don't all get in. And your claim that teachers make $70-100,000 a year is greatly exaggerated, but perhaps you didn't mean that as a statement of fact.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 11:36 a.m.

The schools can keep throwing money at the achievement gap, but it's never going to go away until parents get involved. How can you expect a child to learn if they come to school unprepared. Walk through Meijers some night at 11:00PM and see how many children, and I mean young children are out shopping. How would one expect that child to be alert and ready to learn the next morning. How can we expect a student who spends their time walking the halls of a high school building to achieve? But when they fail because they do no work, who is blamed? Certainly, it's not the student... God forbid that they should be held accountable! Not the parent! But the school... Until education is valued by parents, there will be a gap. Maybe AAPS should take all of the money it is giving to Glenn Singletary and start spending it on programming. Start spending money on programs for parents, getting parents involved. I don't think Glenn Singletary has done a blessed thing for our district except collect a lot of $$$.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 11:33 a.m.

I'd like to point out that the district pays out over $300,000 to Singleton's company but gives $0 to the schools to pay for any tutoring or other programs that could really help these kids.

Tony Livingston

Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 1:23 a.m.

Actually, there is money. Not sure how much or where, but Pioneer has a program called Rising Scholars. They have several staff members and work with low income students.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 6:37 p.m.

But it did fund some really super awesome segregated lunchtime pizza parties at Dicken.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 1:57 p.m.

that money could help pay for after-school busing, which seems to be the biggest obstacle for after school programs in elementary school.

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 11:32 a.m.

What not summer school? If some kids fall behind for whatever reason (including lack of parental involvement) why don't we use the months of summer to catch them up? Teachers already make $70-100k per year and don't work in the summer. Kids do almost nothing over summer in regards to &quot;closing the gap&quot; - Why not put the bottom 10% of performers in each grade level in a Summer Catch up Program. Seems to me that if some fourth grader falls behind in basics that an extra 60 days of reading will help them tremendously. And help the future Fifth grade teacher and students as well. Or is that too much to ask?


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 12:39 p.m.

Enough of teachers making exhorbitant dollars and have summers off. On average, their salaries are much less than you think. Unless you have been teaching for 25 years, your salary is closer to $55-65k if you have a Masters degree. Summers off are usually filled with researching information for the next year or taking college classes to maintain teaching certificates. Given the number of hours dedicated to the job during the school year, the total number of hours worked is greater than a regular year round job. The summer off amounts to 2 months, not the 4 months most think. And given the fact that they must manage 30 - 35 kids each class period, it is a needed mental break. No manager in any business directly manages that many people.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 11:40 a.m.

AAPS already does that...


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 11:16 a.m.

Really, it's time to find another consultant. That's a great consulting strategy, &quot;You have a serious problem - you *really* need my services!&quot; But we've paid for those services since 2003, as well as trying to deal with the problems since then. It doesn't look as though the consultant has been very effective in helping us solve the problem.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 11:16 a.m.

I am going to agree with Sunset on this one. This is a parent gap, not necessarily a student gap. Parents who aren't involved often have kids who aren't involved. With friends of mine who are teachers and a few distant family members, they all seem to say the same thing. Shouldn't the focus of teaching be to push ALL students to excel? The problem is, when you push all kids, the kids vested achieve at higher levels thus pushing the gap apart even further. I also find it interesting that having these conversations with teachers, many of whom are 30-50 years in age, and expecting them to just change their way of thinking on things. I have heard Glen Singleton speak and I think what he is trying to say is appropriate. However, if Singleton wanted to make more of a difference, lets get our families of color together and have a conversation with them on the need to be involved at school. To make sure their kids do the homework assigned. To make them read a book while at home. To get them to bed at a decent hour. I think blaming board/teachers on this issue can only go so far, at some point folks need to do a little more to help themselves out.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 1:32 p.m.

most schools already have Black Parent Student Support Groups that are supposed to be doing that. what's the saying about leading a horse to water?


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 11:10 a.m.

When I first move here many years ago, I remember thinking how stratified this community was, full of eggheads and old hippies and a black population that was neither it seemed, and didn't seem part of the mix. Separate. Later, more years later I worked in Detroit, and met many black professionals, and many had moved in from out of the area. Not one ever moved to Ann Arbor to settle, even though through the years, some got jobs out here, they preferred the nicer areas of Detroit and Sourthfield and Oak Park and Farmington etc. This wasn't where they wanted to live. There's a reason of course. It does seem that Ann Arbor is a snotty, rich-kid kind of place, full of putdowns and fierce competition to be the best, smartest, etc. Not a very friendly place at times. Still, the board should fire this consultant's group. They are full of bad advice, divisive bad advice on how to proceed. They should save their money and find someone who doesn't pick their pocket and use guilt instead of constructive criticism. After the heat the board took for the all year Scarlett Initiative, which I think is great, after Roberto Clemente, after all the effort I see at my son's school to reach out, after that and much more, it's disgraceful that this guy shows up with his harsh words. Enough. Get a consultant who really helps. Shop around. Better yet, do all the things you're doing, support the families and the kids, and keep trying, don't give up. That will make the difference.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 10:33 p.m.

Tiene reason.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 11:09 a.m.

How ironic, the board hires an outside group for what amounts to the 1.39 times the salary of a new superintendent and finds themselves criticized. I'm guessing they're questioning their own competence now.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 10:45 a.m.

AAPS doesn't have a plan? should go through the records and see how much money and for how long they have been hammering at this gap. The desire to achieve must come from the individual. Is it so difficult to expect students to go to class, be quiet in class, listen to and respect your teacher, do your homework and get homework help if you need it? The schools should put their efforts in tutoring. The achieving part must come from a desire within.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 10:17 a.m.

They spent $341,000 on this politically correct nonsense? Closing the parenting gap requires parents to care - it's that simple. Why must everyone be so obsessed with race in this area?


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 1:40 a.m.

@a2flow, i completely agree with your post and think it would be a great stepping stone for to do an article about PEG and what they are pedaling (and more importantly, what aaps is spending money on).

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 12:47 a.m.

&quot;As a card carrying social democrat I normally disagree with Sunset but I think he's right this time.&quot; Ditto. The issue is cultural and social. It is there that the solution will be found, not in the classroom. From William Cosby, Ed.D.: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Good Night and Good Luck


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 11:19 p.m.

The last budget year PEG cost 100K. The schools I have been make great efforts to help low performing students, but oftentimes the students do no make the necessary effort. In k-8, social progression is typical. Each year these kids get further behind. By high school, many of them lack even basic skills. Some buildings (e.g., Pioneer) have required kids that don't do any work to stay after school and pull up their grades. I believe this to be the exception, though. PEG uses a negative connotation for the word white. I don't think I can put up here what they really write because the monitors will deem it to be offensive. I find their (PEG) tactics offensive because it is simplistic propaganda. They tell the teachers that they are the reason that students of color are not succeeding. I have not seen one bit of information in which PEG focuses on low achieving students, but specifically students of color. This is offensive. From my experience, it is very hard to change the outcomes based on the home environment. Research shows that lower SES students enter kindergarten behind and never catch up. Other research shows that only 20% of achievement is directly related to the school environment; the rest of achievement is based on the home environment. Sometimes, it is poor parenting practices. Other times, it has to do with the lack of means (e.g., single parents working multiple jobs to support too many kids). What gets lost in all of this...why do the Asians do so well? Come to school regularly, they don't fight with their teachers. They do the required work. Their parents value education. Many of their parents are educated and successful. They have high hopes for the future. In short, the value system created at home is typically one that is conducive to success in the classroom and life. We need to emulate the successful and demand the lowest achievers step it up. Too many excuses and not enough expectations. I, too, have a dream.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 6:32 p.m.

That will be $341k. Where to I send my invoice?


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 6:31 p.m.

No, no, no! It can simply be solved by throwing segregated pizza parties for African American students. Geez, we are in the birthplace of Domino's, is it not logical that pizza can fix this problem.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 2:15 p.m.

If life was as simple as your solutions would imply, none of us would need to get an education.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 1:31 p.m.

@spj As a card carrying social democrat I normally disagree with Sunset but I think he's right this time. I don't think he suggested any inherent difference but every study that I've ever seen suggests that the most important factors in educational achievement are socio-economic status and educational attainment of the parents. For a host of reasons, extending back centuries, those differences exist. To expect that the schools can change that is barking up the wrong tree. This is not the Detroit school system. Kids in Ann Arbor all have access to what most would consider a quality public education yet the differences still exist. Maybe if the focus was on closing the gap for kids from single parent, low-income, low educational attainment homes, which unfortunately are disproportionately black, better progress could be made. I wish that my kids could attend AA schools. They attend rather poor achieving schools yet have excelled. I have no doubt that that is because both of their parents are educated and involved and they were taught early to value education.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 11:36 a.m.

spj - please help me understand how one student can get a first rate education and another get a &quot;third rate&quot; education if both students attend the same school and same classes.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 11:21 a.m.

What evidence do you have that African American parents are the problem? Are they somehow inherently less involved or good at parenting? We're not obsessed with race. The statistics say that African American kids in Ann Arbor are getting a third rate education.