Each time I visit a high poverty school I ask the principal if they are an “educator” or a “social worker.” Many tell me dealing with the non-education world that confronts many of their students is a large part of their daily routines.
While it is unfortunate that this is the case, to deny it is living in a fantasy world. And increasingly, educators are paying more attention to the non-educational needs of students. The Alabama 2020 plan addresses this need in a significant way. I have visited schools in Alabama that have both health clinics and dental clinics located on school grounds.
The best such community wide approach to dealing with these needs I know of is in Cincinnati. I’ve visited there a number of times to learn more about what is being done.
Tiffany Anderson is superintendent of the Jennings, MO school system, located in the St. Louis area with 3,000 students. You can learn about her efforts to address all the needs of her students in this story.
I was recently on a panel at Athens State to discuss education. A legislator on the panel said forcefully, “It’s all in the home.” Of course he was right. But that is still ignoring the truth and holds children accountable for the actions of their parents. Thankfully many, such as Tiffany Anderson, live in the real world and accept its challenges.