Real grown-ups need to intervene when schools fail our kids for too long
December 21, 2016
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One of my 20-month-old daughter’s quirks is that she does not like getting her hands dirty. If she falls outside, she quickly glances at her hands, and then at her parents, expecting us to dust her off with haste. Her teachers tell us she enjoys painting at school, but not the colorful residue it leaves on her hands. But all of this pales in comparison to her reaction when her diaper needs to be changed. She will stop me in the middle of whatever I am doing, grab my hand and make sure I relieve her from her diaper discomfort. While her distaste for dirty appendages is very much a function of her personality, I would like to think her urgency about poopy Pampers is more a function of her humanity. There is something innate about not wanting to fester in uncomfortable, unhealthy, and downright crappy conditions.

That is why teachers in Detroit earlier this year organized “sickouts” to protest the overcrowded, unsanitary and dilapidated condition of their classrooms. And why students in Dallas and in other cities protested about schools with asbestos, mold and broken HVAC systems. It is why the recent news here in Delaware about air quality issues related to mold in some Christina School District classrooms created an uproar and caused some to call for the school to be closed. It is only natural to want an immediate response to adverse or uncomfortable conditions.

Except when these conditions are not deleterious to your health but to your academic and life prospects.

If a school is bad for kids’ health, we want the issue investigated and someone to be held responsible, and we might even want the school closed.

However, if a school is providing an anemic education for kids, we dispute whether we know for sure that the school is subpar, we make excuses for why kids are not learning and we find ways to delay any actions to improve quality.

So if you are a kid in Delaware—or in most places in America, for that matter—whose potential and prospects are being diminished daily because of the poor education you are receiving, you will need to wait.

Not days. Not months. Perhaps years. Probably decades.

The problem is you cannot wait. The excellent education you are robbed of today generally translates into the social mobility, wealth, and career opportunities you will be deprived of tomorrow. You need action if you are receiving a mediocre education. Urgent action.

But that type of action and urgency is in short supply in the education system. Because instead of acting to ensure every student succeeds, we are too busy “adulting.”

This popular millennial phrase refers to “acting like an adult or engaging in activities usually associated with adulthood—often responsible or boring tasks.” In the education system, I would extend this definition beyond doing adult things—like writing plans, creating task forces, sitting on task forces, reviewing the recommendations of task forces, etc.—to having adult-centered conversations and making adult explanations for our adult actions (or inactions).

Read the whole post by Atnre Alleyne at the blog Fierce Urgency of Now.

 

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