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A Positive Perspective
There has been much ink spilled over the U.S. Public Education “crisis". As a public school educator (as both a teacher and administrator), I am finding it difficult to try to help remedy this “crisis" because frankly, I don’t see one. Now don’t get me wrong, things are far from perfect and we should always strive to improve the quality of education our future leaders are receiving, but we need to start looking at all the great things that happen on a daily basis, even at your local public school.
Much of my experience in education has been in urban districts where my students faced regular challenges that most of us will not face in a lifetime. Although it would have been very easy for them to go down a destructive path, these students still made a choice to come to school and try to make a better life for themselves. All it takes is a student to be willing to take the first step and meet devoted teachers who are willing to take the next. I knew teachers who went out of their way to buy hats and gloves for their students during the winter; teachers who would stay after school and help their struggling students when it would have been easy for them to leave right at their contractual hour.
I have seen much good in public education. I have seen communities come together at school events. Members of that community who would otherwise never even look at one another work together for a common purpose. I have been in schools that have acted as a shelter during natural disasters and staff members of that school offering their time and talents to serve those affected. Yes, there is much good in public education.
If you are ever tempted to rashly make a comment like “oh those public-school kids", take a look at what we are doing now. Not only are we intellectually educating students, but now more than ever we are taking pride in socially forming our students with solid character education programs.
What About Test Scores?
So what is this “crisis" based on? Most would argue, “the proof is in the pudding" as our standardized test scores are significantly lower than other nations. Is a one-day test that fails to take many external elements into consideration (such as children who get two hours of sleep a night because they live in a shelter) really the best measure? Our education system was said to be in crisis in the 50s when the Soviet Union beat us in the space race (it was the public school's fault). Yet which nation is still here?
Yes, there is much good in public education, we feed our students twice a day, we clothe them at times, we teach them, we love them, we rejoice when they accomplish their goals, encourage when needed, listen to their sorrows, protect and even pray for them (I know I do). Yes, there is much good in public education and if you think there is a major crisis come by my school, I’ll have a visitor’s pass waiting for you.
How is your local public school impacting your community in positive ways? Spread the word about your school!
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Editor's Note: Nicholas Diaz is the Assistant Principal and the Anti-Bullying Specialist of Van Derveer Elementary School in Somerville, NJ. He is a husband and father of six beautiful children ages six and under! Follow him on twitter @NicholasDiaz1.