Supporting public schools

McSpadden: Our Public Schools Are Not Failing, Our Policymakers Are

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Kay McSpadden, a high school teacher and writer in South Carolina, notes a striking irony. In the midst of School Chiice Week, two major reports appeared that showed the success of our public schools.

The federal National Center for Education Statistics “report shows that in schools with less than 25 percent poverty rates, American children scored higher in reading than any other children in the world. In. The. World.

“The takeaway is simple. Our middle-class and wealthy public school children are thriving. Poor children are struggling, not because their schools are failing but because they come to school with all the well-documented handicaps that poverty imposes – poor prenatal care, developmental delays, hunger, illness, homelessness, emotional and mental illnesses, and so on.”

A second report, by the Horace Mann League and National Superintendents Roundtable, says the United States is, “by far, the wealthiest and best-educated of the nine G-7 countries studied….yet it posts some of the worst measures of economic inequality, social stress, and support for young families. We have the highest rates of substance abuse and violent deaths, for example, issues which negatively affect children and their performance in school……”

“The report asks communities to recognize that schools alone can’t address those formative forces.

“For policymakers, the report says, “Celebrate the success of schools while helping address some of the out-of-school issues that challenge educators, communities, and young people every day. Enact constructive laws and policies that constantly support people on the front lines of our future. Encourage rather than withhold funds for research in the social, behavior, and economic sciences to advance the well-being of the nation’s people. Treat education as a ticket to an even better future, not as a political football.”

“The report concludes that “Nobody understands the challenges and shortcomings of American schools better than the people who have dedicated their lives to them.” Yet educators are rarely asked for their expertise. That snub is bipartisan – with Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo taking a combative stand against public school teachers in his recent inaugural address, and Republican Governors of Nevada and Texas establishing committees on education comprised solely of non-educators.”

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