No child, no matter their race, religion, or economic background, should be discriminated against when it comes to receiving an education.
Education is a wondrous thing. It gives many the opportunity to expand their knowledge and broaden their mindset, in turn improving the outlook of their own futures. Education has the power to move mountains, so to speak, but we often fail to realize that the distribution of education is completely imbalanced, and largely depends on one’s economic and social standing, particularly in western countries like the United States. Thereof, for those who born into poverty-stricken communities, there are significantly less resources and opportunities made available.
How One Fearless Leader Changed the Lives of Hundreds of Students
Linda Cliatt-Wayman, the principal of a low-performing school in North Philadelphia, took it upon herself to make a change in her community and to brighten the outlook of life for many hopeless children. She is the epitome of a leader who not only works for success, but because she genuinely cares about the wellbeing of her students. There are several aspects integral to developing a strong sense of leadership within a community struggling with crime and poverty, as Cliatt-Wayman discusses in her TED Talk, How to fix a broken school? Lead fearlessly, and love hard.
As the leader, Cliatt-Wayman acknowledges that it is her responsibility to ensure the safety and well being of her students, and she does so full heartedly. A leader who does not believe fully in herself and her team is ill suited for the position. However, Cliatt-Wayman, having experienced the school system from the very same perspective of the students herself, was fully aware of the problems her students faced, and that she would be responsible for fixing them. “I am the principal, and having that title required me to lead”, it is this acceptance of responsibility that molded the incredible leader Cliatt-Wayman would soon become.
Positive results were seen almost immediately since Cliatt-Wayman came into her position as principal, as Strawberry Mansion was soon removed from the ‘Persistently Dangerous’ list. Her grand accomplishment did nothing to stifle her work ethic, as she continued to work hard to improve conditions around the school.
According to Cliatt-Wayman, the first step towards combatting the problem is acknowledging that there is one. It is an imminent aspect of our human nature to fall prone to creating excuses. Cliatt-Wayman recognizes this, and came to the conclusion that if they wanted to see noticeable results, they would have to first fully accept and take responsibility for the problems their school faced. “Eliminating excuses at every turn became my primary responsibility”, said Cliatt-Wayman. What follows an open acceptance of one’s own flaws is an open-minded pursuit for solutions.
This extraordinary woman credits her success not only to her determination and passion for helping her students, but mainly to the unconditional love she felt as an administrator towards them. And it was love and sympathy with which Cliatt-Wayman was motivated to do the work she did for her students.
This story, although a happy one of success when faced with adversity, brings to the light one of the many flaws with the public education system today. The imbalance of wealth distribution when comparing some Upper East Side private schools to schools such as Strawberry Mansion, which are located in dangerous and poverty-stricken neighbourhoods, becomes easily noticeable. We further have to take into consideration that there are those who succeed amidst the greatest of adversity, and those who fail when handed everything on a platter. It is the will and passion, which sets success apart from failure, but this will is hard to come by when there are no positive role models in one’s life.
Flaws in the Public Education System
In other relevant news, a video has recently surfaced on the Internet, concerning the safety and maltreatment of an elderly high school teacher, who was emotionally and verbally abused by her students. This video has amassed millions of views, and garnered large criticism from around the world. It seems atrocious that a teacher can be so openly abused and threatened in the United States, the nation that is a beacon of democracy and freedom for much of the world.
No child, no matter their race, religion, or economic background, should be discriminated against when it comes to receiving an education. If there is one thing that is crucial in our pursuit of equality and balance in society, it is the acknowledgement that a proper upbringing and exposure to a positive environment is what determines the path of our lives. If a child grows up in a poverty-stricken community, ridden by crime, it is significantly more difficult, if not impossible, for them to succeed in life, especially if they have no positive role models to look up to. It is the work of impeccable leaders of the like of Cliatt-Wayman, which provides such children with the opportunities they were not given.
There comes a time, when we, as a society, must rejoice and reflect on the flaws in our community. It comes with the acknowledgement that the public school system is severely flawed, that we must take up measures to fix it. There’s no reason why in the 21st century, the disparity between the classes is greater than ever. As we progress, so must our social justice laws and movements, to ensure that the efforts of leaders like Cliatt-Wayman do not go unnoticed.