The Sun Journal editorial of March 31, in addressing problems with Lewiston’s schools stated: “But Lewiston’s educational problems are more rooted in persistent poverty, transient families and a new immigrant population than in the skills and dedication of its teachers.”
This leaves us with little hope, since our poverty and our immigrants are each likely to persistently remain.
Perhaps we could, contrary to the Sun Journal viewpoint, expect more from our teachers.
Coincidentally, the same day of the editorial, the newspaper carried the obituary of Jaime Escalante, a remarkable teacher and the subject of the film “Stand and Deliver.” Escalante motivated his East Los Angeles students by offering them AP calculus. The school had more advanced placement calculus students than all but four high schools in the country. It should be noted that East L.A. is mostly Hispanic and has a median family income of less than $30,000. Think poverty and large immigrant families. We should accordingly believe that although the children of affluent parents do better in school, motivated poor children and motivated poor immigrant children can surpass them.
It may be that we have within our own Lewiston elementary schools our own remarkable or perhaps just wonderfully effective teachers. The recently posted results of NECAP testing of third-grade students at the new Raymond A. Geiger School revealed that black or African-American students and economically disadvantaged students were significantly more proficient in reading and mathematics than the state averages for these specific categories. There may potentially be other remarkable teachers. Let’s find these remarkable teachers; let’s encourage them; let’s find more. Let’s help our other teachers to do better.
Poverty is not the cause of a poor educational system but is, instead, caused by it. A greater threat to education than poverty and immigrants is the attitude that nothing can be done.
Richard Sabine, Lewiston