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?
If we're to meet the education goals we have set as a nation, if we are committed to liberty and justice for all, and if each student is to meet their individual goals, we need assessment as part of the NCLB reauthorization that is now debated by Congress. Only then will we have a critical tool necessary to help us move forward and grow our students. Otherwise, why teach?
Education schools in the U.S. should adopt a similar methodology for selecting teacher candidates as Finland and Teach for America. When two such distinct programs demonstrate above-average results, we should take notice. Revamping the way we select our teachers can play a big role in ensuring that we are placing a high-quality educator in front of every student in America.
I didn't live in MLK's lifetime, but I'd like to think that if he were still around today, he would agree with me on the injustices that Mississippi K-12 students are experiencing. I have a dream that this generation of Mississippi students will be the ones to break the cycle of poverty in their home state -- but it starts with strong educational access.