If you surveyed every educator across the United States, you’d be hard-pressed to find a single employee who didn’t want the very best for each of their students. People go into the field of education to make a difference and to be a positive influence in students’ lives.
Students need teachers, administrators, staff members, parents, and community members that care about them and encourage them to succeed.
Working together as a community is so crucial to helping our children, tweens, and teens receive the education that they deserve. It’s not okay that some students in the United States have all the resources they need while others do not.
And there are so many obstacles that stand in their way that never seem to get discussed.
Educational studies that are done often focuses on everything that’s wrong with our school districts. In most cases, these studies place the blame on teachers.
We hear “there’s a shortage of qualified teachers”, “there aren’t enough teachers of color”, “teachers unfairly target certain groups of students”, or “teachers only teach to the test”. The premise is, if these things are fixed all students will magically succeed. That’s just not true.
What will really help students is to stop the blame game, see everyone in a child’s life as an equal partner in their education. Everyone needs to work together to give kids the best opportunity to succeed at school. This success will lead to a stronger commitment to higher education, gainful employment and them becoming a powerful participant in society.
National after school programs like Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Boys & Girls Club offer social, educational and emotional support. Programs that offer free tutoring, urban gardening, animal therapy/care are ways to help students take responsibility and learn new avenues of interest. Meeting with adults from all walks of life, including former felons who have turned their lives around, are other ways students can build relationships and get the encouragement and confidence to make education a priority. This is a diverse community working together for the success of students.
Without positive relationships with family, friends, teachers, administrators, and community members, kids are at a much higher risk of dropping out of school, committing violent crimes, getting hooked on drugs, and ending up in juvenile detention or prison. 1 in 10 male dropouts will end up incarcerated between the ages of 16 and 24.
State and federal intervention programs now exist to reduce the number of students who drop out and prevent students from ending up in the school-to-prison pipeline.
Some of these programs include:
- Job Core
- Talent Search
- Upward Bound
- Upward Bound Math-Science
Many educational leaders are beginning to realize that virtual education is a great option for students who struggle in a traditional classroom environment. There are some great virtual schools in the U.S. that can be a viable alternative for these kids. Many of these schools use a virtual classroom software called Jigsaw Interactive. This solution allows teachers and students to work together during class, personalize how certain content is presented, uses all types of content like videos, podcasts, etc. and is designed to track what and how the students are doing. With small group learning being so powerful for most kids, using customizable small group rooms lets the teacher put students at similar learning levels together so they are comfortable working on problems, based on their level of understanding.
Supporting all students is critical. Supporting teachers and school administrators is also crucial if we are going to equalize education for everyone. There is no one group, or one thing, that is to blame for educational inequities. It starts with the parents teaching the value of education and the need to be respectful of all adults. It then moves to the community to support and teach the need to be compassionate and understanding of everyone. And finally, it moves to our schools where understanding that not all kids are the same. One child may be loud because that’s their culture while another might feel more connected to technology because that’s their comfort zone. Equity starts with understanding the differences in all of us and tapping into those differences to maximize learning.