I remember my senior year of high school vividly. I toured many colleges and universities. One thing that each of these universities touted was its technology and libraries. All of the universities I toured were public schools, yet each could proudly state how many computer labs and libraries were on campus. Since each wanted to be known as a premier learning institution, they knew that having top-of-the-line computer labs and millions of books were necessary to ensuring that reputation. Can we also say this about public elementary, middle, and high schools? Are we creating premier learning institutions that help our children to become critical thinkers and innovators by providing them with these basic tools?
As I am creating my non-fiction writing unit, I am forced to come face-to-face with the reality that my school is lacking the basic resources that should be available to all schools in this technologically advanced age. In the non-fiction writing unit, my scholars will write reports on animals. In November, they go on a trip to the National Zoo, so it makes sense for them to connect their in-classroom learning to outside experiences. Nevertheless, what concerns me is the fact that my school does not have a computer lab or working library. Can you imagine teaching students how to conduct research without the two most important places to find sources? My story is not an exception. In fact, many teachers across America face this same problem.
As a child, I loved taking both computer and library class. In high school, I would race my friend as we learned how to type. We did not realize it as the time, but we were both fostering a love of computers while simultaneously increasing our typing skills. In elementary school, my school’s librarian engaged us in the most fascinating lessons before sending us off to choose and checkout books on our own. We did not know it then, but we were learning how to enjoy reading and personal responsibility at the same time. Just how are we creating learning environments where children are intrinsically motivated to learn if they are learning in schools without the basic resources to engage them?
It is an injustice that many schools in communities that need quality educational opportunities have to send their children to schools with the least resources. Now do not get me wrong. I am not bashing the teachers or administrators at my school. Teachers in these schools work tirelessly to create engaging lessons and learning opportunities that spark a student to want to learn in spite of a lack of resources. Many of us event spend our own money to fill the void. How can we expect all schools to meet the same standardized test score bars when we all there to be “have” and “have not” schools? More importantly, when will school districts ensure that all schools equip teachers with the basic resources necessary to teach students so that they may achieve at high levels?