A Letter To School Districts

Exterior view of a typical American school building seen on a spring day

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Exterior view of a typical American school building seen on a spring day

Abbie Kraus, Staff Writer

Dear School Districts,

Please stop lying to us when you say you really, truly care about our wellbeings and our futures. You are only concerned with profiting off of us and the silly little letter grades that are ingrained into our brains, which supposedly are our only defining accomplishments. Where is all the money, allegedly going to schools, actually going? More funding goes to staffing than it does for the welfare of students and their futures. No matter how much new funding you may get, you always come short when it comes to funding projects and activities we love and need; activities that will actually allow us to explore our interests, passions, and truly grow for our futures. Even though more money for schools to spend really does improve students’ futures, especially in low-income areas where the people need their futures the most, no conditions have been improving at least that I see. You are the same adults that complain about the youth’s inability to do anything, about how we are so sensitive and we complain too much and blah blah blah, yet nothing is being done to “fix” these “issues” within this generation. Instead, all the responsibility is put onto us instead. Whose fault would that be? Things are being swept under the rug in districts all over the country, but even in California.

We spend 7 hours a day, 35 hours a week, 180 days a year in school, and yet we learn nothing of the skills we need to be functional adults, none of the skills necessary to keep society going. Of course, we learn what is necessary for ourselves; reading, writing, our concepts of math, science, and history. It has been a flaw in the school system not just in our generation, but for decades; we are missing fundamental skills that a lot of us need, such as filing taxes, learning to love and accept others despite differences, conflict resolution, and the list goes on of things a lot of us need to be taught, especially if we aren’t being taught from anywhere else. The more useful skills, we learn from our teachers who go beyond the standardized curriculum. When we are only being taught the basic concepts of history, math, science, etc., we really are not learning a thing. Unfortunately, in order to get acceptable grades, most of us students will stay up late nights freaking out over trying to just get it all right for the test but then immediately forgetting it right after that. We don’t actually learn or retain pretty much any of this. We only learn how to hide our stress and let it bottle up until we just can’t take it anymore, and that is why our precious grades that you love so much begin to slip. We try to take care of ourselves, make ourselves our top priority, just to care for ourselves as we need, and yet to no avail. We just begin to drown in missing assignments, and subsequently, the ringing words in our ears to “just get your schoolwork done.” Just get it done. It really is not that easy in every case. A lot of us, a growing number of us, suffer from mental health disorders on top of all this pressure and stress that the adults that are apparently “above us” inflict onto our already struggling wellbeings.

I know you all don’t believe in us, but we are trying. We are trying harder than you think. Everything that we do “wrong” in your eyes can be explained by the stress that you all inflict on us. We need help, not to “toughen up” and “stop being so sensitive.” We don’t need to hear “how much worse you had it.” It does nothing but belittles us, and it’s actually really damaging.

It’s not that we arebrown wooden blocks on white surface choosing to be lazy or we simply don’t want to do work. You are all wrong. We are a generation that actually wants to see change and really is delivering it. We are the future that is actually going to attempt to fix everything that has been broken for so long, yet ignored or even fueled by those that preceded us. Our generation has so much to give and so much hope, so much promise. And yet we are broken down by the school system we are forced to partake in that just isn’t getting any better.

Why do I need to know how to break down a polynomial, but I still know nothing of how to file my taxes, or pursue anything I actually have potential and passion for? I am not saying we need to specifically cater to only what I want by any means. But I am not encouraged to continue pursuing what I want to. Instead, I am meant to drown in schoolwork and develop a “good work ethic” through this, when in fact I’ve only learned how to turn in sloppy work that I’ve cut corners on and put no actual heart into. I’ve learned how to fake my passion in everything I do. This is not what I am meant for. I am worth more than this and my time is also worth more than this. I haven’t learned a thing.text

For years we have been shot down, broken down, and hurt. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t absolutely broken down over their schoolwork and their inability to finish it all, dreading the upcoming consequences that were unavoidable from their teachers and parents. This is unacceptable; we are all anxious messes with no accommodation nor support. If you want us to be successful, to be everything you just despise in our generation, it starts with you. The schools, the adults that pick apart our every mood, that belittle and make fun of our “silly and sensitive” breakdowns, all of it. It starts with you.

Do better.