Many, far too many, Latino and other minority students, when they enter high school and/or college struggle to finish. The nation continues to engage in a long and drawn out discussion regarding the problems plaguing American public schools and what it takes to ensure that students at high-poverty and high-minority schools achieve.
Many, far too many, Latino and other minority students, when they enter high school and/or college struggle to finish. The nation continues to engage in a long and drawn out discussion regarding the problems plaguing American public schools and what it takes to ensure that students at high-poverty and high-minority schools achieve. It’s an unconscionable fact that American high-poverty and high-minority schools do not offer low-income students and students of color an education that allows their students to achieve a level of competent, competitive independence in managing and controlling their destiny in adulthood. If you listen to the national dialogue on the current state of education for Latinos, and other minorities in the United States, the impression is given that their future is at the hands of the federal government, state government, school districts, principals, teachers and others. There is limited truth in this.
David Brooks, editorial op-ed columnist for The New York Times, in his recent piece entitled “The Problem With Meaning” quoted the following “practical wisdom” passage from a speech that American civic leader, John Gardner, gave to the Stanford Alumni Association 61 years after he graduated from Stanford University:
“The things you learn in maturity aren’t simple things such as acquiring information and skills. You learn not to engage in self-destructive behavior. You learn not to burn up energy in anxiety. You discover how to manage your tensions. You learn that self-pity and resentment are among the most toxic of drugs. You find that the world loves talent but pays off on character.”
The purpose of a “mature” 21st Century American public education is to impart the skills, tools and knowledge so that America’s “student-citizens” can independently initiate, create and navigate their own life long education and transform their learning into the professional/vocational aspiration of their choosing. Ultimately fulfilling their civic duties as American citizens. In other words, Gardner’s “practical wisdom” echoes Thomas Jefferson, John Dewey, and more recently, Professor John Goodlad’s educational philosophy that American public education is “a moral enterprise, not just a matter of getting the right techniques and organizational structure” and their belief that American public schooling is central to our democracy. In short, the role of public education is not simply to make workers and, further, teachers are responsible not only for the academic development of their students, but their social development and their development as citizens.
In the current educational reform agenda there is a complete absence and deafening silence on the importance of the American public education as a “moral enterprise.” The pervasive “inexcusable complexity” of “educationese” prevents American public education from constructing and implementing a teaching, learning and training system that is truly aligned with its primary purpose: to teach all its students-citizens how to ask the right questions, organize large quantities of information, evaluate complex information and be able to solve difficult problems. The first and most important thing to recognize as we enter 2015 is that American public education is failing to assist our young citizenry on how to answer fundamental questions about themselves—who they are with clarity, articulation and honest conviction. Failing to do so allows someone else, and/or something else, to define who they are and what they will be. Inevitably outside forces will intervene to fit their life into someone else’s plans.
See. Hear. Learn!
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