School readiness

“What is an example of schools having a poor readiness?”

I was asked this in a essay-to-comments chain on writerbeat.com

My piece was a redux of “Good for Students”, where I describe (among other things) what we would/should/could do if we really wanted to make teachers and schools more accountable for closing what is called the “achievement gap”. For starters, we should also focus on school readiness.

If I say “school readiness” I mean learner readiness for school. Before I walk out of the door, I need to have clothes on. Before I get in the shower-the opposite. Before learners come to school or whatever mechanism/setting has brought them to the present place on the learning/training path- they need the preparations of the past. You can only move forward from where you are today and cannot pretend that you can build on where you might be tomorrow, next week, or as investors/curriculum and testing corporations have through their intrusion on public education policy…where a learner might be years from now (or worse-simply ignore accepted developmental norms as well as the variations/variables that can come into play)to the benefit of some back-filled formula that is supposed to mathematically ensure some standard outcome.  To move forward (or upward) that foundation needs to be in place. Scaffolding.
On the front end of school comes a child. At the end, a young adult hopefully ready for the world. While much can be done in between in terms of remediation in cases where a foundation is compromised, by the time a 4/5/6 year old hits the classroom, a significant amount of “foundation” has already been constructed. Has that foundation been constructed in a “me first” environment of relative wealth and entitlement? A “me first” environment of crime, drugs, poverty? An environment regardless of economic situation filled with books, love, lots of language and communication? There may be a number that can be placed on the neural pathways possible in the actual cognitive web  being constructed in the developing brain, but it would require lots and lots of zeroes as placeholders.
The variations and purpose of those networks that condition/shape a learner’s behavior are revealed to some small degree in kindergarten screening exams used to gauge school readiness. More and more, the negative impacts of a gamed “free market” and rigged political process are seen in the classrooms as more families struggle to survive, tread water, become desperate, or sink. It is not “choice” or lack of motivation in all cases (maybe in some), but when you destabilize a family or an economic class, you destabilize the nation’s ability to send children to school with “readiness”.

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