Public Education Can Be Inclusive, Diverse and Unifying

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), May 23, 2013 | Go to article overview

Public Education Can Be Inclusive, Diverse and Unifying


I recently had the privilege of attending the end-of-the-year awards program for the English language learners (ELL) program at Glenbard North High School. The evening's activities reminded me again of the great role that our American public education system plays in our local communities, our society and our culture in general.

As I interacted with the students and parents, I was struck by how comfortable and confident the students were. They were talkative, friendly and proud of their school and accomplishments. Their parents were particularly pleased with and appreciative of their students' success.

Clearly, the local school was key in guiding their transition and integration into our community and culture.

Whether we are new refugees or grandsons and granddaughters of immigrants, throughout history, our local public school system has been the vehicle that assimilates and unites all of us as equal and respected members of our community, state and country.

The following are key examples of how our local schools have served in this critical role:

1. From kindergarten through 12th grade, teachers regularly reinforce our core democratic values. Our students regularly experience and learn what life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness means. Key values such as justice, equality, diversity, truth, popular sovereignty and patriotism are reinforced, not just in social studies classes, but in all classrooms, in the lunchroom, on the playground and on the athletic fields. …

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