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What We're Reading

By Anya Alexander June 26, 2015

This week President Dan Cardinali was a featured guest speaker at the first-ever TEDxPennsylvaniaAvenue, an event that gives innovative thinkers and doers from around the world the opportunity to share groundbreaking ideas with bi-partisan multi-sector leaders in our nation’s capital.

His talk entitled, Majority Report: Why Most of Our Students are Getting the Least Out of Our Schools, focused on the fact that “today’s public schools are simply not designed to serve the majority of their students” and the role that integrated student supports or wraparound services must play in meeting the country’s huge need for basic child development skills.

Cardinali said the real tragedy is that "Poor kids have less access to the experiences and relationships that are essential to developing non-cognitive skills. If your single mother is living on food stamps and holding down two jobs to pay the rent, she can’t drive you to soccer practice. She can’t afford summer camp. And you can’t take that after-school job because you have to be home to look after your younger siblings."

He explained that 51% of public school students come from low-income families and are plagued by the toxic stress that comes with it. And further emphasized the fact that community resources are not always readily accessible, and talked about how Communities In Schools connects families who need them. 

"Regardless of how extraordinary teachers are or how effective technology is incorporated into the classroom, schools today can’t possibly keep everyone on-track with the curriculum when there are so many poor kids who need remedial work in their holistic development. 

In fact, dropping off a poor child at school and expecting her to get a complete education is like dropping her off at a department store – and expecting her to get a complete week of groceries. Department stores sell a great many things, but basic needs like groceries are not among them. In either case, she simply won’t find what she needs.

Plugging such a gap may be a lot easier and more cost effective than many believe. By placing trained and passionate adults in school buildings whose job it is to connect students with these critical resources, work with students holistically, and address their non-academic needs, we can complement the good work that teachers and administrators are already doing to graduate those students who are prepared to contribute to their communities and keep the American Dream alive."

Watch the talk here.