Equal Educational Opportunities

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If I had a dime for every time one of my students told me that he hated school, I would be a wealthy woman indeed.  

My students don't hate me.  They don't hate their teachers (usually).  They don't even hate reading or math in most cases.  They hate being asked to work hard.  They take education for granted instead of seeing it as an opportunity.

I'm a teacher in the United States, the wealthiest nation in the world.  Even our "poor" rural and inner city schools are lavish when compared to schools in other countries.  My heart breaks for the Haitian children and families in the video below, because while Education for All is doing so much to improve education in this battered country, so much is still left undone.  And yet, children are coming to school in Haiti.  They are wanting to learn.  There aren't enough teachers for all of the students who covet the opportunity to attend classes! What a different story we have in the United States.  

I have a "Treasure Box" in my classroom for children to choose from when they have met certain goals or benchmarks.  Despite the fact that having a Treasure Box is not cheap for me, I keep one because I love my students, and because I think that they should be rewarded for hard work.  So often, though, I hear these words: "Why don't you have anything good in here?"  "When are you going to buy more stuff?"  "Do I really only get to pick one thing?"  They don't want education for education's sake.  They feel entitled to the best that we have to offer and don't realize how truly lucky they are.  

I wonder what it would be like for our American students and the Haitian students in the video to switch places for a week.  Would the Haitians be sickened by our extravagance?  Would the Americans be thankful for their comfortable lifestyles?  Would Haitians be jealous of our luxuries?  Would Americans start viewing their education as a blessing instead of a curse?

I don't know.  What I do know is that the children in our country (and often we ourselves) need a change of perspective.  Perhaps we don't need an earthquake to destroy all of our resources so that we have to start again from the ground up, but maybe we need a good dose of reality.  Our education system isn't perfect by any means, but we are very fortunate people.  I'm looking forward to the day when education for children in America is not a "have to" but a "get to," as it is for the Haitians in Port-au-Prince.

(Check out this and other videos on my webTV at http://webtvs.filmannex.com/maryrachel.fenrick.)

About the author


Mary Rachel Fenrick is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Education and a minor in Spanish. She currently teaches Special Education and English for Norman Public Schools in Norman, Oklahoma. Some of her passions include reading, writing, editing, teaching, distance running,…

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