Special assistant to director, D.C. Department of Employment Services; executive secretary, Unemployment Compensation Board; delegate, D.C. Constitutional Convention; ANC commissioner for Southeast; board chairman, Far Southeast Community Organization; Boy Scout coordinator, Bethlehem Baptist Church; former executive director, Communications Skills Program of United Methodist Church Commission on Racial Justice; former representative to Anacostia school board; founding board member, United Black Fund; former chairman, Black United Front.
1. As a policy maker and manager, I have concerns about standardized test scores as the indicator of achievement. When we compare test scores locally with the so-called "national norms" we must recognize and understand the inherent core cultural group bias in the test. There are many reasons for low test scores in secondary schools. However, I am of the opinion that the scores are less an indication of our children's abilities and more a recognition of social, racial and economic factors that exist in the District of Columbia. From the evidence I have seen, low test scores are a reflection of the lack of cultural experience and exposure experienced by some children, rather than of innate intelligence. We can make improvements by ensuring that all children have an equal share of educational resources and receive meaningful cultural experiences.
2. I take issue with the premise that ability or intelligence is somehow related to economic status. Low-income sudents suffer from a lack of exposure, and this is translated by some into an indicator of IQ or achievement. When given the opportunity through resources and exposure, low-income children succeed at a rate not different from that of white children or affluent children. If we make experiences available to our children through excursions to museums, cultural events and similar affairs, or through family experiences, we increase their chances of success in educational endeavors. With respect to the problem of limited resources, there are those advocates who want to "save" a few students. But the resources used for this limited group are taken from the much larger group. This tends to reinforce deprivation and poverty rather than eradicating it. Broader resource allocation, more cultural exposure and meaningful family involvement are the solution.
3. We need additional resources if we are to accomplish the goals set for our school system by the public, which expects children to be prepared to become economically viable. If we can find the resources to put them in jail, we can find the resources to educate them to stay out of jail. Education is the long-range solution. Secondly, we need to evaluate the quality and proficiency of the skills levels for both our administrative staff and teachers. We cannot respond to changing needs unless we have those skills necessary to meet present and future demands. Education is too important to be left to professionals alone. Finally, not only do we need safe and decent schools, free of asbestos or other health hazards, but we also need attractive schools that provide an atmosphere that teachers, pupils, administrators, cafeteria workers, teacher aides and maintenance engineers enjoy.