Editor’s note: Fernando Otero is a senior at Arizona State University. Here he shares his own impressions from the recent launch at ASU of the White House’s Young American Series.
In Phoenix, Arizona’s Young Americans are the changemakers. Earlier this month the White House, in partnership with the U.S Department of Education, kicked off the White House Young America Series at Arizona State University with 150 Young Americans in attendance.
We, Young Americans, created the agenda, discussed the most pertinent issues impacting us and shared our solutions. The energy in the room was electric! The issues discussed included food policy, civic engagement and education.
In the largest group, the concept of education was deconstructed and re-envisioned.
Our breakout group discussed and identified many problems within education and pinpointed a few that, once solved, could cause a trickle effect and reform education in our country as a whole. Some of the issues we discussed were the literacy problems that currently exist, as well as the unfortunate reality of teachers “teaching to the test” in order for students to pass standardized exams. We believe that all of these things further contribute to the challenges facing America’s educational system.
The preparation programs in our colleges need to focus more on practice rather than theory. There is a wide range of challenges in our nation affecting our students that can’t simply be reduced to some arbitrary theory. Our teachers need to understand the diverse needs of the American student and how to effectively address them. The education system has allowed too many students to slip between the cracks and it is up to us to revive the passion that will help unleash the potential those students have within them.
If our teachers fail to understand the needs of their students, they will not be able to effectively reach or teach them.
-Fernando Otero, Arizona State University Class of 2012