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New Petition Asks Obama to See Children as More Than Test Scores

The petition calls for the creation of a committee on the "whole child."

Do you believe that every student deserves to be "healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged?" If so, you’ll want to sign a new petition asking the Obama administration to create a President’s Council on the Whole Child.

Molly McCloskey, the managing director of whole child programs for ASCD, the nonprofit educational leadership organization that created the petition, says existing child development efforts often focus on one specific issue, like improving kids' health or eliminating bullying. But research on high-quality schools shows addressing emotional, physical, and academic needs together is essential to make students "college-, career-, and citizenship-ready."

"If we only ensure that kids are healthy, safe, engaged, and supported, but not challenged," says McCloskey, "that’s academic pity." But it also does students a disservice to focus solely on the "challenge" part of the school experience. When that happens and schools reduce student success to a test score, kids "disengage, get bored, and suffer from stress."

ASCD director of public policy David Griffith says the organization decided to propose the council because they saw a need for collaboration from different types of groups and wanted to spark some action around the issue. Students would surely benefit from improved communication across existing education, social, health, and safety agencies—between, for example, the Let's Move! initiative and Promise Neighborhoods—as well as local, state, and federal governments.

ASCD needs 25,000 signatures before February 18 in order to advance the petition to the next level of the We the People process. If that goal is met, the White House will officially review it and issue a response. Either way, "our whole-child efforts will continue," McCloskey says. "This is what we believe is the highest-quality approach to education that we can offer. Our work doesn't stop."

If you want to support ASCD's effort, click here to sign the petition.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user woodleywonderworks

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