My career in education has taken me from urban settings in New York City to rural in the Republic of Moldova, back to suburban and urban, independent, charter and public, and some university teaching in the middle. When it comes to schools and schooling I have seen a lot of what works and a lot of what does not. And I am here to help you discover that too.
I consider schools to be keys that should be unlocking doors but sometimes we set them up in such a way that they are gate-keepers instead. We make decisions each day about what budgets and boards would allow rather than prioritizing the needs of families and communities, losing sight of the reason the school exists in the first place.
When I talk about unlocking doors, my passion for schools lies in the reality that we are so dependent on each other, one person earning their degree has reverberations for that family for generations and every family around them for generations. I think about education as the environment in that sense: if I recycle I feel good because I have reduced waste in my household but I have also made a positive impact for everyone coming behind me and living around me. In college access, the reputation of the school, the offerings of the school, all have major influences in how an individual application is framed. I have also found that especially in public schools, data sets do not match (e.g. more students take AP courses than apply to college) or we are teaching what is easier to grade rather than what is in the best interest of the student. Teachers and school counselors make decisions about who is college-bound and allocate their attention accordingly. I truly get it. But there is another way.
For schools that have higher matriculation rates, they have sometimes lose sight on what a mass of degree-holders can do for everyone around them. Will your students earn a degree and go into fields that they are passionate about? When the opportunity arises, will they give pause for issues of inclusivity? The bottom line here is when you have students earning the degrees, the work does not stop. Returning to my recycling analogy, now that they have the tools, do they understand the implications enough to make a sustainable product rather than the same aluminum can? Or more importantly, have we done enough that they understand why they have to?