Stop reading if you do not want to read a bit of a political rant at the end of my post. I didn't do my Affirmation Tuesday. I've been thrown off all week with what day is what. DD2 is on 6 more days and counting until summer. My obnoxiously dear friend from childhood, now a 4th grade teacher, posts his daily obnoxious countdown to summer. I picked the wrong side of education to go into, I think every May, June, July, and August! However, had I gone the traditional teacher route, I might have missed out on some the incredible opportunities I have had to impact real change and reform in education. No snide comments please about the state of the US education system. I know very well things are tough in many parts of the country, with many children still falling behind and not able to catch up. Yet, there are solutions, if we can harness the good thinking into solid policy and practice implementation, and reverse negative trends.
I've been working on a broad initiative in Minnesota to prevent and end homelessness. The image that often comes to mind when people think homeless is huddled masses under bridges, the elderly women pushing a shopping cart of pop cans, the man with a dog panhandling on the side of the road. The sad truth is there are over 9,000 homeless adults,youth (14-24), and children in Minnesota alone. Many are in shelters, temporary accommodations in hotels, or doubling up with other family members, hopping from home to home, and yes, living in cars and on the streets. It can't come as a surprise that the attendance at school, and therefore the grades, of children and youth impacted by homelessness are affected. Our particular component, Homework Starts with Home, specifically has strategies aimed at stabilizing housing for children and families. It's a big lift, and I am proud to be a part of the effort.
When I get a little worked up about the current federal administration, and particularly the secretary of education's views, it is for good reason, and from experience. Public schools must serve all children. Vouchers that allow funds to go to a private school might sound like school choice for families, but only when the student is a "choice" for the school. Private schools can and many do, have discerning enrollment criteria. Add the economic and geographic diversity of children that must be served in public schools, taking just a few pupil units worth of funding out of a school can mean educational hardship for the children left behind. Busing gets cut. After school child care and tutoring is non existent and meal programs that could be part of the school aren't offered because there is no one to administer them. Communities struggling with a transient population feel the hardship
even more, and it cripples the ability to think creatively on how to
best ensure stable and regular attendance. I can't create more affordable housing units, but I can work hard to ensure the education safety net is there for these kiddos. That's one thing off their parents mind as they try to figure out how to create a home for all the homework good students want to master-even when school is out for summer.