Poor Elijah is out of touch with the purpose of public education.

Yes, a teacher’s first job is to teach content; however, he or she cannot and must not do so without considering the fact that a public school is a social institution. It was created by Thomas Jefferson and developed by Noah Webster, Horace Mann and others “to create a common system of tax-supported schools that would mix people of different backgrounds and reinforce the bonds of democracy.” See "School: The Story of American Public Education," on PBS.

When we welcome all to our public schools, educators must prepare for opportunities to teach and practice social competencies of self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, decision making and responsibility. See casel.org for information about teaching social competencies across the curriculum.

For example, when the English teacher leads a discussion on the qualities of the main character, the students need to relate self-awareness and social awareness traits. When the science teacher invites students to conduct an experiment in a team, the students need to know how to interact and take responsibility to achieve the lesson objective. When the students eat lunch in the cafeteria or even walk down the hall, they need to practice decision making and self-regulation.

Social competencies are needed in day-to-day life, whether in academic settings or social settings. Teachers are in an important position to help students grow in many ways — academically, socially, physically and emotionally.

Embrace your important role, Poor Elijah, and become Enriched Elijah. Help prepare our students for life. Welcome to the United States of America!

Linda Mullin


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