- - Sunday, January 31, 2016

Imagine being a student with dreams that could stretch to the moon and back. Yet you find yourself stuck in an environment that isn’t giving you the necessary resources to reach that goal.

Eventually you conform to the environment in which you were raised, and all those big dreams you once had go straight out the window. You’ve watched your peers get suspended and expelled from school constantly, and you notice that most of them just give up on school altogether, which leads to a lifestyle most of us are told to stay away from. Your teachers aren’t pushing you as hard as they should be, and your parents aren’t either. It’s like you’ve been caught in the cycle. What’s a kid with big dreams to do if no one is showing them that these aspirations are possible?

Unfortunately, this is the case for many children who attend inner city schools in America. In “Healing the Inner-City Child,” Vanessa A. Camilleri writes that most students who attend inner city schools come from disintegrated homes or have parents who don’t stress the value of an education, and if education is not being emphasized at home, students are not progressing. This is where the saying “It takes a village to raise a child” comes in, because to children, school is like a second home. If they’re not being taught the value of an education at home with their parents, they should at least be able to go to a school where they have the essential tools and assets that show them that they can achieve the American dream.

In “Promoting Social Justice in an Urban Secondary Teacher Program,” educators Monica Medina, Anastasia Morrone and Jeffrey Anderson describe how most teachers who teach in these schools are underqualified and have low expectations for their students. They explain that most educators prefer to work in suburban schools where they can make more money or schools with low concentrations of poverty, and that most teachers who do decide to teach in urban schools leave them after their first few years of teaching. Underqualified teachers and teacher shortages result in urban schools being seen as inferior due to poor teaching and overpopulated classrooms.

To solve this issue there should be more programs in place that influence more qualified teachers to teach in urban schools. After all, a teacher’s job is to give students opportunities and enhance the skills that they need to gain knowledge. Students in urban schools are the ones who need someone with those qualifications the most, but they’re the students that the qualified educators shy away from.

According to a study by the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, students in urban schools are suspended and expelled from school at disproportionately higher rates than students in suburban schools. In fact, many schools across the country have discipline policies that push students out of the classroom and into the criminal justice system, a phenomenon that many call the “school-to-prison pipeline.” Speaking from my own account, police routinely arrest and transport youths to a juvenile detention center for minor classroom misbehaviors. A a result, many students end up being deprived of their fundamental right to an education. There aren’t enough programs in place to help students like this. There should be other consequences in place to will help the student instead of putting them in a position that will ultimately hurt them in the long term.

At the end of the day, they’re children, and children shouldn’t have to lose their right or interest in education for being disruptive. They’re growing and learning … just like we did. You never know a person’s story or why that child may be disruptive. Maybe they were up all night watching a younger sibling because their parent is out all day working two jobs to support them. A lack of a structured family or a certain amount of income shouldn’t mean lack of an education. A child doesn’t get to choose that.

Everyone deserves that chance to see that they, too, can make all of their dreams come true.

Amber S. McTerry is a senior at Coastal Carolina University. She grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, and has dreamed of working in journalism since the tender age of 8. She believes she received her calling in church after her grandmother applauded her when she read a scripture in front of the church audience. Ms. McTerry went on to anchor the morning news show in elementary school. At Coastal, she is an Armstrong Williams’ broadcast intern.

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