Looking Through Lens of Hope at Tennessee’s Plan to Honor “All Means All”

In this The 74 article, Doug Mesecar writes glowingly about Tennessee’s plan to honor the federal education mandates driven by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The writer pens the type of hope in Tennessee’s strategic plan that could only come from someone who hasn’t been victimized by or seen first-hand the educational injustices of the past.

While Mesecar does an excellent job detailing Tennessee’s promise to deliver personalized instruction to each student, my blog has been focused on making sure we don’t allow students of color to fall through the cracks. As mentioned in the article, large performance gaps exist between racial groups and Tennessee’s formula to measure the performance of Black, Hispanic and Native American (BHN) students by combining them into one group is troubling, at best. But what do I know, I’m just a blogger?

Don’t misunderstand me, I believe Tennessee is leading the nation in changing the education game and academic strategies such as personalizing instruction is evidence of the state’s standing. Further, I believe education commissioner Candice McQueen and her team have a heart for children. But I’ve been around long enough to know that everything that glitters ain’t gold when delivering for Black, Brown and poor children. We cannot continue to sacrifice our children to poor programs and weak accountability. So, while my hope in Tennessee’s plan to deliver for all kids may be cloaked in caution, it does exist.

Here’s an excerpt from Mesecar’s article on Tennessee’s plan on personalized learning:

The sad reality is that disproportionate numbers of poor and minority kids wind up in special education due to a lack of educational success. These students often slip through the cracks until their cumulative learning deficits become too large to ignore and their needs are finally addressed through individual attention mandated by federal disability law. Personalized learning holds real potential to turn this all-too-familiar pattern on its head by providing students immediate learning support when it is needed. Instead of waiting for students to fail before they get more time and attention, personalized learning is a just-in-time approach that can help teachers address academic deficiency before it snowballs into failure.




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