Make Public Education Work for Everyone

My husband is a Dutchman who moved to America to be with me. We have experienced many things together over the last seven years that have made me feel the need to apologize for my country. But, navigating the American education system on our children's behalf has made me sorrier than anything else. When..

My husband is a Dutchman who moved to America to be with me. We have experienced many things together over the last seven years that have made me feel the need to apologize for my country. But, navigating the American education system on our children's behalf has made me sorrier than anything else.When I first explained the options available to a kindergarten student in America, my husband was completely baffled. The first private school in Holland opened just this year. I had to explain that American parents who can afford to do so have to weigh the many benefits of private school education against the costs of elitism. Since we happen to live near a good public school, our decision was relatively simple.Then we discovered that our son has a learning disability. The public school classroom choices available to America's more than 6 million disabled children are fairly limited. The Board of Education decides which type of class it deems most appropriate for your child. If you disagree with its placement recommendation, you have two choices: You can either let your child suffer in the wrong classroom while you fight for reassignment, or you can pre-emptively place your child in a special private school and sue the Board for reimbursement for failing to provide the legally mandated free and appropriate education.
Wouldn't it be smarter to invest in making public-school education in America meet all students' needs?
My husband and I watched as our self-confident, friendly 4-year-old became isolated and insecure in the wrong kind of classroom; we didn't know if he would dare to be fully present again. So when a group of experienced teachers and psychologists who knew our son told us that they believed he would feel lost and inadequate in a collaborative team teaching classroom-the placement the Board of Education had given him-my husband and I rejected it. When the Board responded by offering us the exact same type of placement in a different neighborhood, we put our son in a private school for children with learning disabilities-which costs $40,000 a year. And then, like 70,000 other parents of special needs children in America, we fought the Board of Education. The Board would not settle with us, so we requested an impartial hearing.We spent four days in a stiflingly hot room in Brooklyn listening to people who had never met our son testify that they understood his needs better than we did and imply that we were elitists who would never send our child to public school no matter what the circumstances. I had to testify under oath that I did not think that my beautiful boy could learn alongside "typically developing children." I am sure that both the Board of Education lawyer who impugned us, and the special education teacher who said, "when I think of your son," without having ever laid eyes on him, hoped to help disabled students when they took their jobs. But the existing system has turned them into our son's adversaries.And we are the lucky ones. The parents of disabled children who do not know the laws, who cannot afford a lawyer or the cost of a private school, do not have the option of challenging their child's placement or suing for reimbursement. Nor do the parents of "typically developing children" who think that the public schools are not providing appropriate education for their children. School vouchers have been proposed as a solution to this problem, but I fear that school vouchers merely make American education even more segregated than it is now. Allowing a few parents to buy their way out of a broken system is no way to fix it.Wouldn't it be smarter to invest in making public-school education in America meet all students' needs? Dutch citizens spend 30 percent of their taxrevenues on education, compared to the less than 5 percent we spend in the United States. The Dutch spend more tax revenues on education than on any other sector of their society. The Dutch educational system ranks ninth in the world. America's did not even make the top 20.But what if we did make education a priority? What if we provided all American students with those things that wealthy parents are buying when they send their children to private schools: smaller class sizes, better resources, better-trained teachers, and more inventive curricula? I, for one, would have a lot less apologizing to do.Cohn is a writer, writing teacher, and mother who lives in New York City.Author Portraits by Forrest Martin
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

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September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

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The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

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via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

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