Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

To Help Children Learn, Schools Must Heal Troubled Minds

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

To Help Children Learn, Schools Must Heal Troubled Minds

Article excerpt

There has been much ado about public schools lately. Many reasons have been given for the decline in academic quality. Maybe we should look a little further than the schools.

Forty years ago, when I was in school, our society was such that most families consisted of mother, father and child or children. Divorce was something that most people really tried to avoid because there was a certain stigma attached to a divorced person. Maybe some parents were not too happy to stay together, but the children had a sense of security in the fact that the "family" was together.

Therefore, the majority of children in school did not have the anxiety of wondering whether anyone would be at home after school or at night when it was bedtime.

Twenty years ago, when my children were in school, our society was in a turmoil. The use of alcohol and drugs had reached a very high level, and many people had a devil-may-care attitude. The baby boom was here. Children were crowded into small classrooms. Parents were beginning to tell their children that no schoolteacher could tell them what to do.

Many high-quality teachers also had a big shake-up. Some had left to fight the war. Others had taken jobs in defense plants. Still others had decided to pursue other fields that paid much more money than the teaching profession paid.

Thus, public schools were experiencing their own changes. Teacher shortages were great. Many men and women started back to school to attain teaching degrees.

In the meantime, society was also changing its attitude about family, divorce and raising children. The children were drifting into the background as parents started changing partners and the "happy hour" became a "must" for women as well as men.

Children started going home to empty houses. When children are left alone without supervision, many things can happen. …

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