Education Week has a piece that begs to be reprinted in full because there is just too much to think about.
Needs of ‘Whole Child’ May Factor in ESEA Renewal
Wide Range of Supports, Services, and Enrichment Seen as Vital but Costly
As Congress gears up for renewal of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, lawmakers and the Obama administration are seeking to address a perennial complaint: that the current version of the law, the No Child Left Behind Act, places too much emphasis on students’ test scores and pays little attention to their health and other needs.
And at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee last week, lawmakers agreed that the idea of educating “the whole child” encompasses a wide range of support services, which advocates are hoping could be reflected in the rewrite of the ESEA.
Those include dental and mental health, as well as programs aimed at providing prekindergarten and library services, summer and after-school enrichment, mentoring, college counseling, and increased parent and community involvement. The whole-child concept can also refer to making sure schools attend to students’ nonacademic interests, through programs such as the arts and physical education.
Pretty much no part of our lives will not be part of the schools’ responsibility. Make your hair stand on end yet? Well, read what Geoffrey Canada, of the Harlem Children’s Zone says:
“In communities where kids are failing in record numbers, you can’t just do one thing,” he said at the hearing. “We start with children at birth and stay with them until they graduate from college. … In the end, you have to create a series of supports that really meet all of their needs.”
The knee-jerk reaction was to ring the bell of alarm, run up the flag, call homeschoolers to arms… and then I read the ten pages of the Times piece. And this is where the rub came in.
Frankly, I am alarmed by what I see as an overreach by the institution of schooling, but, at the same time I have to admit I could be living in another country, dealing with much different issues than what Geoffrey Canada faces. Can I truly fault Mr. Canada for addressing the needs of his community? Can I pretend to not believe that no matter how many more services are offered through schools that these are stop gap measures and we are turning a blind eye to the underlying problems we all face?
I can do neither.