Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Biggest Social Ills in a Child's Life: Is School the Answer?

The Achievement Gap is widening my friends. Although initiatives like No Child Left Behind and even the Common Core were developed to narrow this gap, it has only widened like a sink hole in Florida!

A recent report produced by the Economic Policy Institute (June 10, 2015) outlined 5 social disadvantages that children experience that schools cannot fix, nor should they be expected to fix:

  • Parenting practices that impede social and behavioral development
  • Single parenthood
  • Parents' irregular work schedules
  • Inadequate access to primary and preventative health care, and
  • Exposure to and absorption of lead in the blood
Click here to read the full report.

This is not a finger-pointing exercise; it is, however, a wake-up call. One that teachers have only been able to speak about in hushed voices - until now. 

Every year there is a new proposal, and sometimes a new mandate, for schools to take on more of the role of parents. As much as some groups blast schools for doing this, others sue schools if they don't. Just so you know, teachers and schools have no desire to take the place of parents - but sometimes they have no choice. Just as if someone left a newborn baby on your doorstep - would you close the door and walk away?

A great piece appeared in the L.A. School Report revealing the details of this report. It's a comprehensive read that I suggest you review.

For example, a recent lawsuit filed against a district in California asserted that schools should have counseling in place to help kids deal with PTSD as a result of any childhood trauma they may have experienced. Since PTSD gets in the way of their learning, it is naturally assumed that schools will find a way to deal with it. After all, this is why we have a school breakfast program because research showed that children who are hungry do not learn as well.

The more social disadvantages schools are charged to mitigate, the less they are able to do what they were both called and hired to do - teach. Social disadvantages were caused by and in society - society needs to step up to address them. And who do I mean by "society"? Probably the same people Jesus meant by "your neighbor."