Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rich Schools vs. Poor Schools & Standardized Testing Accountability According to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

**Since today is Christmas Eve, I figured it would be a perfect time to re-post something from my much older yet much less popular personal blog, a post that probably fits the content of this blog much better. This post was originally published on November 25th on my other blog, The Buss**

Since August, my world has been fairly upside down. It's not one of those major things that I should be complaining about, but all the changes, the changes in routine, the pace of life, and everything else, made it hard to sit back and find things to complain about (the basic purpose in having a personal blog such as this one).

This really put certain things in perspective for me, and is probably my most appropriate reaction to the test heavy school culture we now work under in the field of public education. I've heard it said that teacher bonuses should be tied in to test results, and on the surface that sounds like such a nice, wonderful idea, that is, until basic common sense takes over.

When I was an undergraduate student at NMSU, I continually had this thing called Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs rammed into my brain. It's something that is common knowledge now, and that is this. Take a look at the pyramid here:
This pyramid shows the levels of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. The bottom needs are the basic ones, and without those needs being met, major psychological setback occur, and the person not having those needs met will suffer. In education, this means that kids who aren't getting enough food, sleep, a consistent family life, consistent financial situation, a consistent place to live, and a safe and secure existence with routine, then they will not reach the upper levels.

Look at the top of the pyramid. Those are all the great things that we want our children to achieve. Teachers and parents dream of children who show those traits.

Now, with that in mind, who will show those traits? Will it be the homeless child looking for a place to sleep at night, wondering where their next meal will come from and where they'll be living in a week? Or will it be the kid who goes home to the same house every night, has a family that's always there, never has to worry about basic needs, and has a safe, secure existence? Of course, it's the latter.

Now, is this a rich vs. poor issue? Yes it is. Take this argument to the schools, and you'll see that if things like teacher pay raises and school accountability are tied to test results, who will achieve higher? It's quite obvious, on a number of different levels, that the more affluent, or even simply middle class schools will have a much better shot than "poor school."

The reality is right there, and it doesn't take a genius to figure it out. For me, personally, some of my needs weren't being met there for awhile, nothing major, just a few changes in my life. Those changes caused me to re-think my priorities and everything for awhile. If those smaller changes can affect an adult so much, imagine the extent that a child would be affected by not having those basic needs met. It's staggering. Somebody in the government needs to pay attention to common sense, abolish No Child Left Behind, and stop rewarding people for working in rich schools while punishing poor schools. It's classism, and it's wrong.


Anonymous said...

This has always been common knowledge amongst teachers in economically "poor" schools, ignored by teachers in economically "wealthy" schools, and denied through ignorance by everyone else. It's very true though. You articulate this truth very nicely.

The Buss said...


Thanks for the comment. When I originally wrote this post, this whole issue was weighing heavily on my mind, I'm glad somebody read it.