We The People | Summer 2018 Edition

School is back in session! Even if you don’t have children, you can look at any social media platform and get all in your feelings, like KeKe, watching proud parents and loved ones send their children off to school in new clothes and kicks. Some of the kiddos even hold signs to let you know what grade and school they’ll be in. Adorbs. As far away as I am from my first day of school, I remember the excitement, new outfits and smell of new shoes still in the box. When I got older, I hoped I would get all the classes I requested and the special teachers I just had to have because they were known for their special way of grabbing students’ attention … or letting you get away with things others wouldn’t. Those were the days. I wish this update was as rosy, but as I hold close to my memories, I wonder what memories children in school now will have to reminisce on when they transition to adulthood because things are a little scary.

This special edition of Under the Dome is all about education. Here are a few of the (true) things you hear often: Teachers are underpaid and overworked; schools, understaffed and overcrowded. Many of the GoFundMe campaigns launched by teachers aren’t for extras; they’re for basic things like classroom supplies. Experiencing a lack of resources, being subjected to confusing curricula and lacking the technology to keep up with peers in more affluent schools, has the potential to become a life sentence of endless consequences. Compulsive state testing and inaccurate accounts of history written in textbooks don’t help either. I could go on and on. Parents are left frustrated, while trying to make sure their children are getting the “adequate” education the Mississippi Legislature has promised them, hoping it will prove enough to ensure their children’s future bright and successful. This is the expectation, of course, when students are sometimes left to navigate subjects without full-time subject-certified teachers, school infrastructure crumbling and all. How on Earth did we get here?

When Did Education Stop Being a Priority for All?

In an effort to balance state and federal budgets, the government has placed education on the chopping block.  Is this “The Lost Decade” 74million.org asks about students. According to their findings, scores from the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress remained stuck at roughly the same level they’ve been for the past decade, though small progress was made in 8th-grade reading. That. is. disturbing. But it gets worse. The article goes on to say “[O]ne notable trend has emerged: Scores for top performers have ticked up over the past few years while struggling students have seen their own scores decline.”

Let’s read between the lines. This is a case of the haves and have-nots. It also serves as an indicator that so many students who live in rural/poorer parts of this country will continue to see pervasive poverty, while the more affluent students are more likely to receive a plethora of opportunities.