All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

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This KARA post from 2005 suggests MN has achieved a significant improvement in graduation rates in our schools.

No Child Left Behind really did leave behind a great many children.

The data from KARA’s 2005 piece is much better than it was then; Roosevelt High school (sister school to Edison HS where I went) graduated 28% of its students in 2005—Minneapolis and other big city schools averaged graduation rates between 50% and 60% nationwide.  25% of graduating U.S. high school seniors were functionally illiterate.  Today, in 2018,

America spends 2 to 3 times the amount per child for education as do other advanced nations.  Our results in science, math and reading are …

significantly worse.

At election time, politicians make political hay blaming teachers for troubled schools – that’s like blaming law enforcement for who fills their jail cells.  My educator friends have blamed immigrants for school failure forgetting that their own grandparents came here not speaking English.  Administrators are blamed for wasting money on bad teachers and bad programs.

The reason American education struggles and our children don’t compete internationally is that the rest of the world has recognized the value of their youngest citizens and made them ready for learning.  Those nations can spend 1/2 to 1/3 of what the U.S. spends and get much better return on their investment because their children had quality daycare, sound early learning programs and a safety net for young families.

We seem to have forgotten that this nation’s public school system built the most powerful economic engine in the world.  That’s not nothing.

The public lack of understanding and support for the people, programs and policies that build and care for America’s children is a problem.  Children are the most valuable asset any nation has.  Without an education these kids are not productive and this country is losing its once vast and superior competitive edge because of it.

Teaching millions of seriously traumatized children in crowded classrooms with century old punishment based teaching models minimize the chance of engaging kids & providing them the coping skills, healing and learning they need too succeed.

There is almost no discussion about the vast numbers of Prozac, Ritalin, and other Class II stimulants prescribed to children in our schools (or the behaviors being managed).

The public wants accountability and better results but until we begin to understand the core issues we won’t recognize the very metrics critical to the equation.

Until we understand “ready to learn”, we can expect education to remain an expensive and problematic institution with high teacher turnover, too many GED students & dropouts with overall low expectations.  We have perhaps the worst 3rd grade reading test score rankings in the industrialized world to say nothing about over the top juvenile felons, teen pregnancy and STDs.

There are still 3 times the recommended number of children per counselor (750 to 1) in MN schools. There is still a profound shortage of mental health services and child psychiatrists in our state of MN and trauma informed (ACES) practices are only now starting to show up in our schools.

It is not sound public policy to medicate troubled children with Class II psychotropic stimulants without proper mental health services. 

Between 50% and 75% of children in the Juvenile Justice system have diagnosable mental illness & half of them have multiple, serious and chronic problems.

The mental health ratios for children in Child Protection are similar.

Early counseling pays big dividends when it comes to troubled children getting their lives back, fitting in with their peers, and gaining the coping skills necessary to do well in school.

Teaching is a noble profession. Teachers teach because they love learning and children, and they have a desire to make a difference.

Support the people doing the work.

We are all in this together, or as Pliny the elder said 2500 years ago,

what we do to our children, they will do to our society”  

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1 Comment

  1. In 2000, at a [then Dartmouth, now] Geisel Medical School “Grand Rounds” continuing education presentation, an Epidemiologist noted: 52% of Detroit Metropolitan Area Schoolchildren met the DSM-IV criteria for PTSD. Similar numbers for Schoolchildren in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Atlanta have been reported more recently. Fortunately, James Redford filmed “Paper Tigers” at Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, Washington, to show how they … decreased suspensions, etc., and increased graduation rates. We still need to give teachers access to the same support as our ‘first responders’ and human services personnel, but ‘trauma-informed communities’ continue to emerge to address this and other concerns.

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