06 November 2017

Those Darn Kids

A couple of weeks ago, I had several conversations where someone used a term such as red kids or bubble kids. Now, I have heard these terms a lot over the years. I'm pretty sure I've referred to bubble kids myself. But for whatever reason, these labels whistled at me in a way that they haven't before.

What do we really mean when we refer to red kids? Is this a convenient way to categorize struggling students, students-at-risk, low performers, etc.?

And then a couple of days later, I saw this tweet in my timeline:

https://twitter.com/TracyZager/status/923968258541105152

I started to think about these labels. They are from Mismatch: Historical perspectives on schools and students who don't fit them (2001). What would we add to the list from the current decade or so? Perhaps...Red kids. Title kids.

Those kids.

It made me wonder what we mean with these labels. Who, exactly, are we categorizing?

So, I pulled some data on our current sixth graders. What I learned was that the students we are including as red kids are disproportionately male, low income, and receive special services.

I won't claim that this is what the label means for all grades, schools, or districts. But the qualities of ours made me ponder the concept of privilege a bit further. Being a low-income white male might be a disadvantage on state tests, but it is certainly not a detriment for society as a whole. No matter how much these students may struggle in school, they will not have to struggle as much in life as those who are low income and black...female and Hispanic...or others who may be more successful at the present time. To be clear, I don't want any student to struggle or not find the support they need while they're at school. But I also have to be real about the work we have to do as a society.

I am hoping to prompt some conversation and some reflection about all of this within my district. So these data are the source of my most recent data story. If you're interested, you can read more about how we constructed this display or view the data summaries for yourself.