Author praises county task force for enhancing achievement options

September 29, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

A Houston educator and author on Tuesday praised members of a Washington County task force who are trying to eliminate achievement gaps between students of all racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds, as well as those receiving special education.

"I applaud you for your efforts. It is a tough undertaking but an important undertaking," said Paul Slocumb, co-author of "Removing the Mask: Giftedness in Poverty."

Slocumb, who was a professional educator for more than 30 years before becoming an educational consultant, encouraged members of the Washington County Public Schools Minority Achievement Task Force to keep trying to better the local community.


Slocumb spoke to about 40 people at Tuesday's task force meeting, which was held at Washington County Technical High School.

The education and community representatives on the task force understand, Slocumb said, "that it is not a school issue - it is a community issue."

Slocumb reminded the group of the importance of eliminating achievement gaps, Deputy Superintendent Patricia Abernethy said.

The task force, created in May, is expected to give recommendations to the Board of Education by November, Abernethy said.

After his speech, Slocumb said he has looked at data for Washington County Public Schools and found the school system is making progress in terms of helping students who live in poverty.

In schools across the nation, the value system needs to be shifted, he said. It is not right that some students are teased for getting good grades when they should be encouraged, Slocumb said.

It is not right that black students who get good grades are accused of "acting white," Slocumb said.

"We need to challenge kids on this," Slocumb said. "We have to make being smart cool."

Families need to let their children know the importance of education. This is hard, he said, "when we have parents too busy to parent."

If the families are not the ones who tell students the value of education, then at a minimum, school employees need to do so, he said.

"We also have to let kids know that there is hope, that it is within them to achieve," Slocumb said.

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