Want to Boost Student Achievement? Embrace Culturally Relevant Teaching

The choice between anti-racist practices and standards-based achievement in public education is a false one.



By Chris Carr, Word in Black 

Public education has a pivotal choice ahead — a choice that is, in fact, not a choice at all.

Halfway through this school year, the negative impacts of the pandemic are persistent and inescapable. This is especially true for our most underserved learners, but no one appears to be immune to the challenges facing our nation’s schools and students. And, if we are all in this together, then we must stop viewing our solutions in siloes and instead see how we can come together to radically reimagine school environments that better serve every student, particularly those that have been systematically oppressed.

For decades, arguably beginning in the ’90s with George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind,” many schools were incentivized to relentlessly focus on academic achievement.

Saturated with terms like “rigor” and “high expectations,” these schools often emphasize procedure and structure and use oppressive tactics to teach students to succeed in systems that were designed to disenfranchise them. This approach, while often yielding strong academic results, can also create students who don’t feel valued and ultimately disengage from their education.


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