Louisville Nonprofit Aims to Address Racial and Economic Inequality in Education – 89.3 WFPL News Louisville

The majority of students at Jefferson County Public Schools who struggle academically are young adults of color and those receiving free and reduced lunches. Experts say this is because they lack access to the resources they need to thrive.

In an effort to address the barriers to success, the Decode the project Literacy education to those most in need has been provided free of charge or on a gradual scale since 2019.

Lindsey Wallace is the nonprofit’s development coordinator. It is responsible for raising awareness of the initiative and mobilizing support for its expansion.

“It’s not that the students we work with aren’t high achievers, aren’t incredibly genius, and aren’t bright. They don’t have access to what they really need to be successful when it comes to literacy,” Wallace said. in all areas of a person’s life.

Currently, there are more than a dozen counselors stationed at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in the West End, Wallace said. Mentors form individual learning plans and work with young people individually to help them grow and learn at their own pace.

Wallace said most mentors receive honors pay for students who are part of the University of Louisville. Muhammad Ali And the Martin Luther King Scholars Programs. She said they are trained to overcome racial prejudices, provide trauma-informed care and deliver the science of reading. The approach focuses on building essential skills and using teaching strategies that target the way children learn to help them get the most out of the curriculum.

“Now they have someone they consider a teacher, and they have a positive experience with, someone they meet twice a week, usually someone who looks like them, which is very important for our students as well,” Wallace said. “We don’t say ‘During third grade, you should be able to read this,’ And that’s what we’ll work on with you. “We’ll meet them wherever they are.”

This year, the literacy coaches are also set to work with students from Byck Elementary School in Russell, as well as students from play collective cousinsa support network for black Louisvilleans that focuses on culture, generational experiences, and building relationships.

“Some of them are future teachers,” Wallace said. “Whether they are future teachers or not… just opening their eyes to the inequalities that exist in the system, no matter what field they enter as adults, they will carry that with them and hopefully have a destination A new view through which they see the world.”

according to The most recent data available from the Kentucky Department of Educationstudents from economically disadvantaged backgrounds received test scores much later than those from economically stable backgrounds.

JCPS students with Proficient and Outstanding test scores in Language Arts (data from 2019).

Last month, JCPS Supervisor Marty Beaulieu highlighted student learning inequality and the achievement gap in the region during a presentation to a group of bipartisan state lawmakers.

“We have to improve our results at JCPS, especially our achievement gap. But we all know, as many of you are teachers here, that poverty is one of the first correlates with achievement.” We also have more than 6,000 homeless students in Jefferson County Public Schools. Also, about 13% of JCPS [students] English learners, which is a big increase than it was about 10 or 12 years ago.”

Beaulieu added that the achievement gap will continue to grow unless state and local governments reform long-standing barriers. He said that begins with repairing the damaged foundation in the region, caused by a lack of investment in teacher salaries and school infrastructure, and selective investment in resources and opportunities for students. Work has already been started in some of these areas, Beaulieu added.

“Students with the fewest resources at home need to have the most resources in their schools. It has to happen,” Beaulieu said. “Our teachers will be paid more to be in very poor and challenging schools, as well as our principals and other administrators with the same way.”

Falling behind in school takes more toll on students’ lives than just the academic impact, said Wallace of the Decode Project.

“Students often begin to act behaviorally in an effort to avoid being exploding in front of their peers for not being able to read,” Wallace said. “And so they end up in the chancellor’s office. And it kind of starts a whole domino effect from there, in terms of discipline.”

Unnecessarily harsh policies and Discriminatory Disciplinary Actions Over-punishing or criminalizing behavior or violating school rules, as well as law enforcement on site, are some of the factors that contribute to what is known as Pipeline from school to prison. This is the national pattern where young people, disproportionately black and brown, are brought into the legal and criminal justice systems.

Next week, the decode project will host a file Fundraising event for adult spelling bees at Kraft TEN20 brewery in Butchertown Trying to keep the mentorship program going.

“Most of the students we work with cannot afford structured literacy education. Almost everything we give to the community is free,” Wallace said. All money raised will go towards achieving our mission of education equity and making sure students in the West End have access to the literacy education they need to thrive and succeed in whatever way it means to them.”

Wallace said the ultimate goal is to open a literacy center in the West End and make education services available to students across Jefferson County.

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