The U.S. education system has a report card produced by the N.A.E.P. (National Assessment of Educational Progress) - it's basically our country's report card on education.
For the past two decades, we have seen a plateau of averaged national results.
I believe this plateau is not the result of academic missteps as much as it is a realization that our classrooms, in connection with the communities from which students are being sent in to our classrooms, are seen as a 2-dimensional academic institution where age and knowledge are rated on a 2-dimensional scale and both the students and the school staff have always been attune to this aspect of the institution.
The dynamic development of the human individual, in relation to the social and societal implications of human groups e.g. classrooms and schoolyards, have only recently begun to be taken seriously. Too high of a percentage of school staff do not agree that schools inherently imbue cultural expectations on both the academic as well as the social and emotional development of individual humans. This results in schools dismissing the critical impact that this understanding of human development has on social conflict which occurs daily under the umbrella of a school's perspective toward societal roles and responsibilities of individuals.
Too many teachers have grown up being taught that school is for academics and home is for learning right from wrong. Yet how many schools are in communities of poverty and feeling the effects of community stress and mental health concerns - all of which enter the school doors with every child that is dropped off by their guardians as they drive off to their world of stress and uncertainty.
It continues to be shown that areas of poverty have a strong correlation to areas of high mental health rates in adults. To attempt to refute this is only a means to distract from the perspective that funding for mental health is and always has been an imperative need which policy writers continue to find surprisingly challenging. I find solace in the efforts being made such as California's new mental health line for preventative mental health crises. Click the image below to read more about that.
The academic growth of this country does not need more worksheets and homework.
It needs the adults in charge of our schools to become the harbingers of what it means to be the best of what we want our world to be.
It needs the funding, training, and support to be written and understood as education policy that reflects the priority of values we not only want our students to internalize but that we, as the adults, must live by every day.
Empower our students. Don't just give them the resources they need to succeed. Show them how to use the resources in ways that benefit not only their academic growth but their social and emotional competencies. We want our academic growth to increase? Help fund our school staff with services and support for healthy minds and hearts. Help fund the community services needed to help parents have healthier minds and hearts. Do this and watch our nation's children reflect the shift they see in our priorities and values. By addressing own perception of self, social, and societal responsibility in a way that can be debated and monitored with intention and we will begin to see the improvements we know will make this world a better place for our children.
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” - Leo Tolstoy