Help­ing achieve­ment

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES -

Con­grat­u­la­tions to Ben­tonville! District of­fi­cials have re­al­ized that bad be­hav­ior of stu­dents af­fects their and their class­mates’ aca­demic achieve­ment, and they are do­ing some­thing smart about it. Lit­tle Rock School District chooses to stick its head in the sand. It has wasted mil­lions of tax­payer dol­lars on ma­te­ri­als, con­sul­tants, aca­demic coaches, pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment, meet­ings, and use­less pa­per­work.

Many chil­dren liv­ing in poverty suf­fer from lack of learn­ing stim­u­la­tion along with phys­i­cal, so­cial, and emo­tional ne­glect. Nearly every day the me­dia re­port news of child abuse: star­va­tion, beat­ings, in­cest, ver­bal and sex­ual abuse, and ap­palling pu­n­ish­ments.

Thou­sands of these cases go un­re­ported. These chil­dren aren’t in­ter­ested in learn­ing. In­stead their minds are full of worry. Will there be elec­tric­ity, wa­ter, heat, beds, blan­kets, food, bath­rooms, roaches, rats, even, for God’s sake, gun­fire and more at home? Do they care about honor roll or a bag of chips for pass­ing a test? Hardly.

Many chil­dren are trau­ma­tized just as adults are, and in their fear and frus­tra­tion turn to theft, van­dal­ism, bul­ly­ing, de­fi­ance, and dis­rupt­ing their class­rooms in every con­ceiv­able way.

If high achieve­ment is the goal, the schools need to iden­tify these chil­dren at least as early as preschool and be­gin teach­ing them the so­cial skills they must have to suc­ceed in school and life. Every year that goes by with­out in­ter­ven­tion makes that suc­cess less likely.

Ben­tonville is start­ing with two classes of six. Lit­tle Rock could fill a school. SUE JOYCE Lit­tle Rock

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