Her name was Jamie Escalante. One thing I observed was that if a student struggled in one of his classes, which included elementary algebra, Escalante would move three fingers on the child’s face. This meant that the student had to return to MH-1 at 15:00, when the school day was over, and work three hours with the help of older students who were recruited by Escalante for an after-school club.
After reading the Education Trust report, a well-known non-profit organization dedicated to improving student achievement, I was reminded of Escalante’s work on how to extend teaching time. It has a lot of insights for district leaders who want to extend the school day by an hour or two, double the length of school and math, set up a compulsory summer school, and make other changes.
Teachers are critical to the success of broad-based curricula, the report said, “Strategies for Solving Unfinished Learning”. They must be certified. Otherwise, they should receive additional training in pedagogy and classroom management. Teachers should have one trainer each week to review and present their lessons each week.
To be effective, the report said, the extension time should be 44 to 100 hours per year. The report says teachers should be from different walks of life and should be given fair support and compensation.
Targeted research: Young Americans spend more time studying and less time working
This is somewhat consistent with the Escalante model. She attracted a lot of students after school, mainly because of her magnetic personality, creative teaching, fluency in Spanish and the support of her principal. She has set up summer classes at a local community college to prepare students for the AP account in their final year. His students knew that if he had a question, he could always be found in his cramped office, which is affiliated with MH-1. This set him apart from many other James A. High School teachers. Garfield became popular, including because he wasted his time trying to get students out of his classroom for teacher meetings and other distractions.
The only weakness of the Education Trust report, as far as I can see, is its recommendation for smaller classes: Research shows that “wider training programs more effectively divide students into groups of 10-20 people. Classes with more than 20 students are less effective. ” This may be the case, but reducing the size of classrooms is too expensive for school councils to consider.
Trust Education expert Ellison Sokol told me that district leaders need to balance what the research says is more effective with what is possible in terms of resources and support in their communities.
Escalante got a big class and time after class because his principal, a former Air Force Ranger named Henry Gradilla, realized early on that the immigrant teacher was genius. The MH-1 often had up to 50 students, each row of tables and desks taller than the tables in front.
The more children met their high expectations, which the math teacher he taught, Ben Jimenez, explained, the better the school would be. In 1987, Escalante and Jimenez produced 26 percent of all Mexican American students in the United States who passed the final exams of AP scores in college. The news of this spread when the film about the incident in Garfield was released the following year.
Most teachers are not as courageous as Escalante, but find their own ways to expand education for children who know their hidden potential.
One example is Joel Parkes, a seventh-grade history teacher at Sal Castro High School in Los Angeles. Not surprisingly, he, as Escalante did, takes advantage of the scheduled time after the final call.
“I stay for an hour twice a week after school to give students a place to either get help or do their homework.” Parks said. He had been helping without compensation for many years, but just before the pandemic, his district paid teachers for such work. There is also an after-school program called Beyond the Bell, in which students are assisted in classes along with snacks and the opportunity to play football. His school also has special Saturday classes for challenging students four times a semester.
Let’s go to school for 9 hours
Many teachers across the country are making their own versions of this. Major reforms that require a lot of money and political support often fail. Therefore, we need to embrace the efforts of individual teachers like Parks to spend extra time for their children in whatever way they can.
It will be difficult to quantify such efforts. In many places, too much is happening. But those individual teachers seem to be increasing their achievements, which in turn helps them feel better about their work and spread the word about how it can be done to others.