Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Reading, writing and raising kids

The changing face of public education

Public schools have more than just a focus on academic achievement. They have clearly evolved into public child-rearing institutions. Public schools now provide before-school programs, breakfasts, lunches, after-school care, afternoon snacks and sometimes dinners (as well as summertime meals). They also instruct children about sex and, in many places, teach them to drive. They face growing pressure to take tots as early as age 3 in pre-kindergarten programs.

They share responsibility for keeping children off drugs, making sure they don't carry weapons, instilling ethical behavior, battling alcohol abuse, tackling child obesity, heading off violence, and providing a refuge for homeless children. Certainly, schools are now providing services in ways not anticipated a generation ago.

How do we manage these hybrid institutions so that both nonacademic and academic programs get a fair shake? A recent story in the Washington Post offers some suggestions.

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Brea said...

This whole idea of schools taking on more and more responsibility bothers me. On one hand, I feel like schools are being asked to do the things parents should be doing at home. On the other hand, if these things aren't taught at school, in many cases they won't be taught at all. My, my, my.

Len said...

Hello DCS, I agree with Brea. She is right about some kids not getting these needs met at home. Schools are now reaching out to members of the community to become mentors in partnership with the school to help children. There are kids out there who have little or no parental guidance. So many kids are left to fend for themselves. It's troubling, something has to be done.

Deb Sistrunk said...

Brea and Len: Teachers, principals, guidance counselors, social workers and support staff have their hands full! Urban, suburban and rural communities are full of children who have little or no parental guidance.

While it is so important for school, home and community to work together - we don't see that happening in many of our municipalities. Generally speaking, it is difficult to find the same sense of community that we saw in previous generations - when churches, communities and neighbors looked after one another.

Clifton Taulbert is just one of many authors who writes about those days. Taulbert's books include Once Upon a Time ... When We Were Colored (on which the motion picture was based); The Last Train North; and Eight Habits of the Heart .

If you know of some community programs where schools and students are strongly supported, I'd love to hear about them. I enjoy success stories, and we certainly need to support those who work tirelessly in public education.

Len said...

Our County Juvenile Department has a Mentor Program and other youth programs. It also has a school for kids with discipline problems, permanently suspended from public schools. Before the induction of the Mentor Program, the school was in chaos.

At the time of recruiting mentors, the only people who were available during school-time hours happen to be elders. The elder mentors worked out well. The children who had mentors conduct and grades improved dramatically. The school atmosphere has made an about face to the point that a good percentage (can't remember the exact number) of the kids are allowed to return to public schools. Just having someone to talk to and care made a difference in these kids lives.

The kids need to feel valued, achievement and spirituality. Their behavior changes when they have these things.

To find local programs you can contact the Housing Authority, Religious Organizations, and the County Courts. The following website is also resourceful. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/index.html

DCS I have heard of that book. I will get me a copy. I agree, people don’t seem to have that sense of community as generations past. Times have definitely changed and so have people.

Deb Sistrunk said...

Len, what a great resource you are! This program sounds GREAT. I hope everyone checks out the website. I know I will. Thanks for the heads up.