Sunday, November 26, 2017

Does Bill Gates Ignore the Family Connection?

In reading a bit of commentary from The Villager, a community newspaper in southeast Denver, I ran across an interesting bit of ed-reform criticism from writer Joneen Mackenzie, who publishes a regular relationship column for the paper. Mackenzie's piece about how "Families Play a Key Role in Child's Success" calls out Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation for ignoring and excluding the role of family relationships as they seek to reform and improve public education. Specifically, she references and summarizes an article by Ian Rowe of the Fordham Institute that criticizes Gates and all his "investments" in ed-reform because of his "Neglecting to mention family structure and stability—and, more importantly, omitting any strategy to use schools to strengthen those levers—undermines the very ability of all of us who have committed our lives to improve outcomes for children." 

This important factor in the academic success of children is a complicated bit of sociology, and it poses a challenging dilemma for anyone attempting to improve educational outcomes for students whose lives outside of school not only fail to support an academic focus but more than like subvert and compromises them. The tough conversation also wades into complicated socio-cultural arguments about the importance of two-parent homes and the ability of all parents to adequately contribute to their children's education. If we're being honest, we can't fix or solve the challenges kids face outside of their school time. Or can we?