As reported to this writer by a substitute teacher in the New York City school system it has been eye opening to learn of the apathetic attitude of many of our city’s youth. On any given day, thousands of young adolescents go off to the one of over 400 high schools (http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/High/default.htm) in the City. Parents believe their children are reaching these schools on time, ready to learn. Would they be surprised to know how many saunter in hours late, or not at all? Or maybe they are as apathetic as their children not wanting to rock the boat opting instead to believe what they are being told.
Given the state of our city’s children’s poor performance in high school and subsequent drop out rate it would be wise for someone to look into this more directly. (http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=16) Perhaps these children aren’t stimulated enough when they go to school, or their teachers haven’t been educated in the rules of engagement with adolescents. They have a lot of competition for these young minds-computers, video games. and earning money to help support themselves, and or their families.
Certainly the schools this substitute has been in have had classes like, Photography, Video production, Health education, and Graphics to name a few to capture their attention. It doesn’t appear to be enough. Academics need to be tailored to the needs of our children to be able to compete with more advanced countries faring far better in the arena of academics. Focus groups were convened by the Department of Education to determine how they could standardize the education curriculum across the USA but not across continents. When they created the Common Core Curriculum (http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy) they thought that was the answer, but sadly it is just the beginning of the dialogue. (http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/myths-vs-facts) What was discovered is the lack of attention placed on social/emotional issues either already existing or stemming from the standardization of education.
No one really addresses the true needs of these Urban children-some of them needing to work to support broken families with no means of survival with the aid of the federal government alone. Gone are the high schools of the 60’s and 70’s that had clear career tracks for academics, and vocational training. Given the realities of our children’s lives, these offers should continue to be available. Teaching our children the correct way to take an exam won’t do anything for their chances of finding and keeping good jobs. What about their readiness for college? (https://dhe.mo.gov/documents/CRSfromACT.pdf) If they won’t engage in high school how will they ever be able to be successful in college?
Looking at the future, it is clear this is a dire situation, without a proper education, the leaders of tomorrow won’t be able to compete with the world at large. This great nation of ours will become weakened by an epidemic of poor performers without direction or purpose. Perhaps the dialogue will shift from education to future success. We need to work from solution focused to readiness; not, as has been happening, readiness to solution focused.
This writer is hopeful that this can be stemmed before it becomes an epidemic. Hope is carried in the hearts of true believers.