Hope Street Group Tennessee Teacher Fellow Amanda Arnold penned this letter to President Donald Trump. The letter was originally published on TNTeacherTalk.com and, later, on tnedreport.com and on this blog. Mrs. Arnold is an assistant principal at Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport, TN.
Dear Mr. President:
As you begin this journey, please take to heart that education is critical to the success and future of this great nation. “Making America Great Again” is a goal rooted in the future, and that future lies within the students of this nation. Education is one of the most versatile and powerful tools that government possesses. History has relentlessly proven that nations can be built and destroyed by how a government educates its people. Appropriate and effective education empowers the people, but education without clearly defined purposes, ethics, and goals can destroy the same people. Please act upon a vision of education that recognizes the following:
- Education can break the cycle of poverty.
- Impoverished communities need equal access to quality education, resources, and opportunities.
- Students deserve safe, clean, and well maintained schools. Many of our impoverished communities have schools in a state of crisis.
- Educational policy should be a problem-solving model based on demonstrated needs and research based results.
- Every student is capable of growth, but all students do not academically grow at the same pace.
- All students do not reach proficiency at the same rate. Some students need more than four years to achieve high school proficiency. Some students need more challenges within that four years. Schools should not be punished for meeting a student’s needs.
- College and career readiness has two parts. Students need career and technical training. Educational policy has abandoned training and educating students for blue collar jobs. Our country needs blue and white collar jobs.
- College is not appropriate for every student, but every student who has a desire and the academic ability to pursue that route should have equitable preparedness and the opportunity to do so.
- Equitable does not mean equal education. Different students have different needs. Different school districts have different needs. Want to make them great? Meet their demonstrated needs.
- Parents want success for students. No parent wants to see his or her student struggle or fail. Strengthen the parents to empower the students.
- Hold educators accountable, but give educators the proper support, resources, guidelines, and tools to meet the needs of the students.
Education must prepare a diverse group of talented, well-educated students. The nation needs electricians, business professionals, mechanics, blue and white collar workers. Diversity in talent and developing the skills to meet the needs of those talents can make students successful contributors to society. Successful contributors make a successful society.
Making any country great begins with expectations: the expectation that every student can be successful, the expectation that poverty does not have to be a cycle, the expectation that the right tools in the right hands can change lives. Greatness does not manifest itself the same in every person; it is unique—just like our students. If you want to make America great, make educational opportunity great.