“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (New International Version)
A while back I was talking with a friend about school problems, and she surprised me by saying “America doesn’t love its children!” I was taken aback. I’d never heard it put so bluntly.
But she didn’t have to do much to convince me. You don’t have to look hard to find troubling examples showing America’s children are in trouble. It is easy to wonder if anyone truly cares.
- We still have high infant mortality rates.
- About 1 million children or more are homeless.
- More than 16 million children live at the poverty level.
- Many students are exposed to lead that could hamper their learning. (This issue is pretty much swept under the rug).
- Three out of 5 teachers have students who come to school hungry. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/27/no-kid-hungry_n_3825071.html.
- We don’t protect our children from guns.
- Thirteen kids die on the streets every day. http://www.standupforkids.org/about/default.aspx
- About 100, 000 children are sold into sex-trade in the U.S. http://www.standupforkids.org/about/default.aspx
And then there are the school difficulties.
- Programs like Head Start are cut and public schools are closed.
- Class sizes are larger than ever before.
- Children are being pushed to learn beyond their developmental age.
- Common Core State Standards have pushed out good curriculum practices.
- Students miss out on a well-rounded curriculum that includes art and music due to high-stakes testing and draconian budget cuts.
- Special education is being eliminated.
- Teachers are treated unfairly and and do not get the respect they deserve.
- Many public schools are being replaced by unproven charter schools and vouchers.
All of this is pretty grim on Valentine’s Day.
But hold out hope! Throughout the country there are good people doing good. Many Americans LOVE their children! And in the end love never fails! There is some good news—not enough of course—but quite a bit.
- Infant mortality is still too high but appears to be going down due to fewer premature births. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/18/health/infant-mortality-rate-in-us-declines.html?_r=0
- While homelessness is still a serious issue, some school districts, like Albion in southeastern Michigan, have caring individuals who work with homeless children and try to help them in school. http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3756883
- In places like Tennessee, parents, many of them Momma Bears http://www.mommabears.org/blog.html, are rallying harder than ever before to bring attention to harmful policies hurting children and schools. Check out the new Tennessee action group. Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence (TREE). https://treetn.org/
- Many parents are fighting high-stakes testing and choosing to opt their student out of the test. http://unitedoptout.com/ and http://www.fairtest.org/get-involved/opting-out
- Several states have put a hold on Common Core State Standards.
- Tired teachers in Tennessee have pushed back when it comes to Tennessee Value-Added Assessment, the use of arbitrary test scores to rate teachers. I had the privilege of speaking to some of these wonderful teachers recently. They seemed tired but strong. The signs: STUDENTS NEED TEACHERS NOT TESTERS! http://tn.chalkbeat.org/2014/02/12/tn-teachers-stomp-to-end-tvaas-scores-connection-to-professional-licensure/
Of course, none of this is enough. But many Americans DO love their children and know that they ALL require and deserve great public schools and better living conditions!
Here is an especially moving story this Valentine’s Day.
Binghampton is an especially poor community, near Memphis. The students have NO art in their elementary school.
So one citizen—a carpenter—created Valentine hearts out of wood for the students to paint and give to the residents to put in their lawns.
And wonderful volunteers have created an Art Garden for the children to experience the arts. http://www.wmctv.com/story/24720031/kids-work-to-brighten-binghampton-with-wooden-hearts
These are the stories that make Valentine’s Day. Look for them in your communities. Happy Valentine’s Day!