Children Who Really Miss Out

Friday, April 4, 2008

"Why should our kids get fewer opportunities to play because of where they live?" Parents who live in America's inner cities and rural areas ask this question every day. Their children face shortages of textbooks, technology and teachers at school, not to mention programs such as art, music and athletics -- all of which are in ample supply in Washington's affluent suburbs. But this question wasn't asked by a parent in a rural or urban setting. No, these words were offered by a Charles County mother in the April 2 Metro article "Left Out in Lacrosse." She was lamenting that her county's schools do not offer that sport.

When I taught Spanish at Kensington High School, in one of Philadelphia's most depressed neighborhoods, I would have given anything to have textbooks for each student, music and art programs, even a full faculty. But we shared textbooks, had few opportunities for music and art, and worked with a constantly changing roster of teachers, long-term substitutes and folks like me -- well-intentioned but uncertified teachers pressed into service out of desperation. These students had fewer opportunities because of where they lived. Kind of like the kids from Charles County. Except that the kids in Charles County have textbooks, teachers and technology.



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