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Posted: 2007-11-20

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Reducing the âachievement gapâ to what goes on inside of schools has proven to be an effective way for policy makers to ignore all of the other âgapsâ outside of Americaâs classrooms.

While researcher after researcher has shown that outside influences contribute to student performance and achievement, proponents of high-stakes, standardized reforms continue to press for more ârigor,â as if harder work alone will mitigate every outside factor influencing childrenâs lives.

Rather than focusing exclusively on the âachievement gap,â policy makers and educational reformers might consider policies that help reduce other âgapsâ that exist within our country. Gaps that could be narrowed in order to improve the lives and schooling of all students include but are not limited to:

⢠The incarceration gap, where six times as many African Americans are behind bars compared to their white counterparts;

⢠The homeowner gap, where 72.7% of white Americans own their homes compared to 48.2% of African Americans;

⢠The healthcare gap,[pdf] where 71.4% of white Americans are insured compared to 53.9% of African Americans;

⢠The earnings gap,[pdf] where white Americans average over $20,000 more a year than African Americans;

⢠The poverty rate gap,[pdf] where 8.7% of white Americans live at or below the poverty line while 24.7% of African Americans do so;

⢠The unemployment gap, where 5.7% of white Americans are unemployed while 13.2% of African Americans are without work;

⢠The happiness gap, where 72% of white youths say they are happy with life in general compared to 56% of their African American counterparts;

⢠The murder gap, where 49% of murder victims in the United States are African Americans, who make up 13% of the population.

Close one of these and I warrant the "achievement gap" shrinks.

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