We Can Dismantle the Opportunity Myth By Giving Our Students What They Need To Be Successful

The Opportunity Myth: the false belief that if students show up, if they do the work and get good grades, they will have a better chance at being prepared for the future. The truth of the matter is that we currently have a public school system that offers a one size fits all type of education. How do we begin to dismantle that? We need to stop funding it as if it were the only solution for all of our students.

Not every individual is the same; people think, react and learn differently. Educating more than 25 children per classroom and providing all students with an individualized educational experience at their own levels is a difficult task especially when there are limitations to resources that are available.

According to The New Teacher Project (TNTP), “…most students—and especially students of color, those from low-income families, those with mild to moderate disabilities, and English language learners—spent the vast majority of their school days missing out on four crucial resources: grade-appropriate assignments, strong instruction, deep engagement, and teachers with high expectations.”

What if public schools had more in-classroom supports? One idea would be to have more than one lead teacher in every classroom who could help manage smaller learning groups, giving students the opportunity to get more one on one supports that are specific to their learning needs.

Maybe then assignments could be “grade-appropriate.”

What if public schools were able to afford more administrative staff to build capacity for the sole purpose of professionally developing and supporting teachers?

Maybe then teachers could learn to give strong instruction and would then be held accountable to having higher expectations for their students.

What if schools could use funds for extra mentoring and tutoring opportunities at school for students whose families can’t afford them otherwise? Or mental health and wrap around services?

Maybe then students could be deeply engaged in their lessons and have a positive learning experience with the rest of their peers.

“This lack of access isn’t random. It’s the result of choices adults make at every level of our educational system. We’re asking all adults whose choices affect students’ experiences to commit to unraveling the opportunity myth.” TNTP.

Change starts with each of us. Let’s begin asking questions, let’s keep decision makers accountable and make sure that our students get exactly what they need to be successful in school and in life.

What do you think?

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Melissa Salgado

Melissa Salgado

Melissa Salgado, raised in East Los Angeles by her single mother and older siblings. She graduated from James A. Garfield High School and received her Bachelor's degree in Chicana/o Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2013. She currently works at KIPP Bay Area Schools as the Community Engagement Manager and provides families with the resources and tools they need to advocate for their children’s education and other important local initiatives. Through her work she hopes to activate power within each parent and/or guardian. Her ultimate dream is that all children will have access to high quality education no matter what zip code they live in.

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