So does Scott Stringer.
What I am going to say may be heresy in this over-technologized age where everybody is on their cell phones every moment of the day checking their email, Twitter account and Facebook page.
But forget the Internet access and broadband increase for schools.
It's not that important.
Do you know what students really need?
More counselors, school psychologists and social workers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the following:
Children’s mental disorders affect boys and girls of all ages, ethnic/racial backgrounds, and regions of the United States. Previous studies estimate up to 1 in 5 children have mental disorder and a new CDC MMWR Supplement finds that millions of American children live with depression, anxiety, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, Tourette syndrome or a host of other mental health issues. The MMWR Supplement titled, “Mental Health Surveillance Among Children in the United States, 2005-2011,” is the first-ever report to describe federal efforts on monitoring mental disorders, and presents estimates of the number of children aged 3-17 years with specific mental disorders, compiling information from different data sources covering the period of 2005-2011.
- Millions of American children live with depression, anxiety, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, Tourette syndrome or a host of other mental health issues.
- ADHD was the most prevalent current diagnosis among children aged 3–17 years.
- Boys were more likely than girls to have ADHD, behavioral or conduct problems, autism spectrum disorders, anxiety, Tourette syndrome, and cigarette dependence whereas adolescent girls were more likely than adolescent boys to have depression or an alcohol use disorder.
Let me add some anecdotal evidence (which I know is no longer valued, as we only privilege that which can be quantified, collected, collated and tracked, but nonetheless here it is):
I am starting my 13th year teaching in a public school.
In the last few years, I have seen a remarkable increase in students suffering from depression, anxiety, suicidal feelings, eating disorders, alcohol or drug use, and other mental and emotional issues that keep them from reaching their full potentials as both students and human beings.
The increase in these issues surely has been a side effect of the 2008 recession which has made the lives of so many of the families where these children come from more stressful.
Nonetheless, students were facing these mental and emotional issues before the recession started and they'll be facing them long after the unemployment rate drops under 4%.
Our modern society, with a large disparity between have's and have not's, with an overreliance on technology, with many of the old community connections like family, church and school destroyed, with so many people living isolated lives, creates these mental and emotional problems in people.
Instead of trying to solve these issues with more humanity, with more community, with more connectedness in the real world, the people running our country and our states and cities want to give us more technology, more Internet access, more bandwidth.
I have nothing against any of that, indeed, I am writing a blogpost using my Internet bandwidth right now.
But there is more to life and more to education than technology and Internet access and bandwidth.
Something you'll very rarely (or never) hear education reformers say is that our schools are suffering a crisis of the heart and the soul and we need to begin ministering to our children in order to help them adapt to an increasingly competitive and cutthroat world so that they can lead happy, healthy lives.
But it's easier to say "We need to enlarge bandwidth in schools!" than it is to say "We need to help our children heal their hearts and souls of their hurts and angers and sadness so that they do not grow up medicating themselves with drugs, alcohol, food, sex, shopping or other compulsive behaviors."
Alas, many of our children are doing just that.
The CDC says 1 in 5 children may be suffering from mental or emotional disorders.
Given the stigma around these issues, you can bet these numbers are much higher than that.
And we're not going to solve these problems with more bandwidth, Internet access or standardized testing.
We need more counselors, school psychologists and social workers.
In my school, the counselors no longer have the time to counsel to emotional needs.
They're too busy tracking data and test scores.
I have said this before, I will say it again and again until the day I take my last breath:
If you want raise academic achievement in schools, start with the mental and emotional health of the children in those schools.
Children who are mentally, emotionally and physically healthy are ready to learn.
Children who are full of hurt and anger and rage and sadness have a lot of other issues going on that have to be attended to before they can be as ready to learn.