How schools can help poor children succeed

By Dr. Patrick Michel

Originally published as “Create an environment where poor students can succeed” in Albany Times Union, Oct. 20, 2015

This month, I received numerous emails concerning my recent commentary published in the Times Union about the struggles of public education to succeed with children living in poverty. The main question asked, “So, what is your solution?”

For context, let me restate that I believe public educators need to stop using poverty as an excuse for our shortcomings. Many critics direct blame toward unions, parents, or the students themselves for the vast swath of children from impoverished areas condemned to generations of poverty with no way out.

However, circumstances are more complex and require us to dig deeper and reinvent ourselves. Continue reading

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Poverty is a circumstance, not an excuse

By Dr. Patrick Michel

Originally published as “Realign public school system to serve poor students, too” in Albany Times Union, Sept. 14, 2015

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, once promised $100 million to the City of Newark, NJ, to help improve their public education system. His only stipulation was that another $100 million in matching funds be raised locally so that Newark would have plenty of money to use for public school reform. The goal was met and over the course of five years beginning in 2010, Newark had an additional $200 million to work with.

Unfortunately, Mr. Zuckerberg learned what the Gates Foundation had already discovered. No amount of private or public sector money is going to change the trajectory of public education. Take time to read Dale Russakoff’s book The Prize. It does a wonderful job describing how $200 million was wasted in Newark, NJ. Continue reading

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Testing what really counts

By Dr. Patrick Michel
District Superintendent, HFM BOCES

For months, “opting out” has been the torch and pitchfork tirade echoing around schools in my region. In their quest to show Gov. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature their displeasure about standardized testing and teacher evaluations, lots of parents and the teachers’ union have dredged up something deeper and more relevant to student success in schools. Testing, particularly standardized testing, is a broken model.

The current system of testing was created for an education system doggedly sustained since the 19th century and cannot meet the needs of 21st century students, post-secondary educators and employers. As we desperately aspire to match the educational successes of other countries, we have lost track of what makes New York State and the United States great — innovation. Continue reading

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