Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"No Excuses" Is a Powerful Idea in Education

Student rendition of my classroom, circa 06-07

Today on This Week in Education, Paul Bruno declared "No Excuses," the mantra made popular by KIPP and others in the charter school movement, a meaningless education phrase.  He was responding in part to reports of Washington, D.C. charter schools having high expulsion rates, implying that "No Excuses" is mainly used as a reason to kick out kids who cause problems.

Many charter schools and organizations have adopted the "No Excuses" idea from KIPP and used it for a number of reasons.  It is translated into very high expectations for teachers, staff, students and parents on all fronts.  It is sometimes (and in my admittedly narrow experience, very rarely) used as a reason to expel students.

Bruno is missing the most important meaning behind "No Excuses," the one that drives teachers and leaders at every one of these schools.

"No Excuses" means that poverty, race, the neighborhood you live in, and the innumerable issues challenging low-income students and their families should not be accepted by society as excuses for why they can't succeed. Those factors should not stand in the way of a great education and a path towards a better life. We've come a long way towards getting past the idea that certain students "can't learn," but we're not there yet. Indeed, those of us that have worked in low-income communities will tell you how much we have to fight this idea among our own students, parents and teachers.

"No Excuses" stands in defiance of that lingering fallacy.

To paraphrase my friend JoAnn Gama, Co-Founder of IDEA Public Schools and member of President Obama's White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, being born into a low-income community should not be a guarantee that every successive generation will live in poverty.  Education is a gateway out of poverty, and we should be making "No Excuses" as we push our students and ourselves on that path.


Sophie Tyler Neil said...

Couldn't agree more with that concept. Poverty is definitely not a problem cause there are solutions like smart tuition reviews to aide them with their education. Determination is key to success, if you want something, grab it and never let go.

Courtney Chambers said...

I am glad with that idea. Empowering children to be positive in spite of everything that may come. You and the children charities in NYC share the same concept. With this concept, they are able to help children to become that they want to be.

Louise Lowe said...

You can't just put burden on yourself. Other people can help you in many ways. When I was in college I was in distress, I almost give up because of all the fuzz that is happening in my life. But I didn't, I fought through it and seeking advices from my college counselor helped me.

Shawn Jeremy said...

It is indeed a powerful idea, but not only in education but also life in general. All people are capable of doing things beyond their limit by believing in oneself but it also has to come with a work ethic that pushes them to be the best. There must be a combination of both to achieve the desired success.

Andrea Thomas said...

Everybody does deserves proper education from whatever race, neighborhood and whatever their status is. It is reasonable enough that the government provides high-quality to every kids and youths cause in the end, they will serve as the new caretakers of the society and to be able to do that, they must learn and know how to do it.

Jo Anne Sibley said...

No excuses is quite synonymous to never giving up. It is a powerful idea in life. Our mind has great power, we can overcome things just by starting to think that we can. Its our mindset that makes us strong or weak.