Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It doesn’t have the hyperactivity of other holidays. And it isn’t dominated by one religion or another, although it certainly, for many, is religious. While there are certainly attempts to drag commercialism into the day, people, in general, seem to recognize it is a quiet time–simply to enjoy family and friends and to be thankful. And to eat good food.
Thanksgiving can be a lonely time. It can be a time where problems appear worse, when you look around and see other happy people and Thanksgiving, for you, is marred by illness or loss.
For children, the problems facing adults, that they share, are magnified.
- What if, as a child, your parents are unemployed? Poverty affects everything you do.
- How do you handle Thanksgiving when your loved one is not sitting at the table? Whether temporary or permanent, the loss of a loved one during the holidays is rough.
- What if you are a child and you don’t have a home? In America that includes 2.5 million children–one in thirty.
- Around 21.6% of children in America are hungry every day.
- Twenty-one percent of children from ages 9-17 have mental illness–nearly 5 million children.
- If you are a child with disabilities and you aren’t getting help you need in school, a day away from school might be a good break, but next Monday the struggles all start again.
Public schools have a role to play with children who face insurmountable problems in their lives. Our schools could be better places–bringing the community together. Families knowing other families and being able to view school as a place to bring others together would be the best goal.
For years, the central focus of public schooling has been on standards. Certainly, teaching content is important, but public schools are supposed to be more than that. They should be a beacon of light for children and families who seek solutions to their difficulties.
Isn’t it time for America to make public schools that care more about children and families?