From the Inside Out: Improving the Public Education System in America
By Nick Hurter
Jordan VanNess, a Tennessee native and Senior Education major at Southwestern, is not timid when it comes to matters of education. Growing up, he quickly learned the problems within the education system, especially with regard to discipline and special education.
Having grown up in the Texas Public Education system myself, I can recognize that there are serious flaws that need to be addressed. I felt that there was very little hope for improvement. Jordan has convinced me otherwise, as I hope he will convince you.
Jordan’s main goal is to make “kids feel capable.” Many times he has seen kids pushed aside and not given proper attention for learning disabilities and behavioral issues.
His sister Tori has learning disabilities and was in and out of trouble in high school. The teachers, Jordan says, did not do nearly enough to help, and chalked her up to a lost cause. So, when he says that “her life could have been so different had her education not failed her in so many ways,” I can see that he is not just aware of this problem, but intends to fix the problem at the root. He wants to be an educator who helps and gives aid to kids, especially those with disabilities or ones that “many teachers give up on.”
The education system has come a long way in how it handles kids with disabilities and behavioral problems. Yet many teachers “fail to provide the accommodations the kids need.” To challenge the lack of accommodations, Jordan has some simple yet effective ideas that he implements in the classrooms he works in as a student-teacher.
“The key is accountability,” Jordan states.
Jordan has heard many times from teachers that “it’s not my job” to deal with problem kids or simply “I don’t have time.” He even heard an assistant principal say “write this kid up as often as possible so that he will go to an alternative school” as an easy cop-out solution for a problem child in the school.
This infuriates Jordan, who states that if you are in charge of someone’s children, it is not a job to just whittle your way though. It is your duty to consider not only the current year, but the future as well. If a different approach had been taken with this child, there would be, in Jordan’s eyes, a better chance that the child would succeed.
The key lies in the environment and positive discipline. Jordan believes that simple strategies, such as training teachers on how to deal with discipline and disabilities, would create a noticeable impact. Additionally these strategies would help to facilitate environments where all students get the best education they could possibly receive.
He plans to establish these methods first in the classroom, then if successful, he would like to systematically help implement the ideas throughout the grade, the school, the district and beyond.