Political, moral and religious debates continue to rage as to whether the school could or should replace a child’s family, however, the case is becoming more and more common where children in California don’t have a functioning family. California families are confronted with extraordinary challenges: immigration, economic turmoil, Proposition 13 spending restrictions, the relative newness of California’s government and institutions, the highest ethnic diversity in the world; regardless of the contributing factors that have led to the widespread breakdown in the family structure in California, the result is children in crisis. In such cases, it is too late for debate, the answer is simply that the school must replace the family. Homeless children, dysfunctional families, temporary foster care, children earning their living off drugs and prostitution: tragic tragic cases for our society. It is my position that we must abandon the debate about a theoretical perfect world and step in to help before it becomes too late to save all these terribly unfortunate children and too late to save our society from sinking into a bottomless abyss of crime, misery, hopelessness, poverty and violence.
The poorest, most unfortunate members of our society do not begin to have the resources or training to help their own children to rise above the often monstrous world into which they have been born. If a parent could save a child with pure love, few parents would need the schools to step in and save their children. One in four California children is living in poverty. One in four California children is an English learner. What is the actual plight of many California parents? Parents work; they are away from the home; they are not there to supervise their children. Parents are not trained in the law; they don’t know their rights to discipline their children legally. Parents are not educators; it is simply not true that anyone can teach a child to read and solve math problems; even many excellent readers would not begin to know how to teach someone else to read. Professional teachers teach, and we can do it very well; teachers can and must step in to do what California parents can’t do for their children.
If we have ended the debate on whether a school should be a family, then it is time to start the discussion of what a school family should look like. For my masters degree I hope to investigate how a school can be designed to offer the things that every child has a right to ask for from a family: things like self esteem, security, love, fairness and above all preparation and encouragement to make a happy successful law abiding life.