I doubt that Putnam fully realizes how appreciative teachers are of his efforts to shift our toxic education debates to a conversation about the real problem, the opportunity gap. To close the racial and economic achievement gaps, we must regain the confidence required to tackle out-of-school issues as well as in-school issues.
As a teacher, I can't do my job effectively if my students' critical mental health needs are not met. The 2008 National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence shows that children are more likely than adults to be exposed to violence and crime. How can we possibly expect youth who are facing debilitating trauma to catch up with their healthier peers without adequate care?
In the last decade or so, schools have so focused on early reading that too many have ignored the need for students to know a great deal of content to understand what they are reading. Too many have undervalued the role instruction in science, history, and the arts play in reading instruction -- which is, I suspect, at least part of why so many eighth-graders don't read at a proficient level.