President Trump: As a retired public school teacher who passionately tried my best to invest every moment of my 45-year career planting seeds of HOPE into the lives of my students, I implore you and Congress to stop the verbal wars and political gridlock.

What our country needs now are viable ideas and solutions anchored in the acronym of H.O.P.E.: Healing Our Public Education.

I instructed my students to critique their fellow classmates’ ideas and comments with respect, offering solutions as problems were encountered.

Studies have shown that academic achievement is linked directly to the educational, economic and environmental inequity and inequality of our students.

By ignoring the individual qualities, strengths and interests of our students, our society continues to waste billions of taxpayer’s dollars each year on promoting a failed academic system that:

• Educates our students (pre-K through high school) to simply pass meaningless standardized tests, and;

• Encourages our high school graduates to pursue generic college degrees that are not career-focused but bury them under mountains of debt.

Here is a real way out of this dilemma, backed by data, for closing both the achievement and income gap in students enrolled in our public schools throughout America, especially among students of color and those living in poverty:

Mr. President, starting with inner city Baltimore schools, you can bring an end to “the disgusting rat- and rodent-infested disparity” found in all our cities by funding and implementing this skilled-based approach to our public educational system that supplies every student seated in classrooms across America with “Mirrors of H.O.P.E.”

Beginning as early as middle school, a Mirrors of H.O.P.E’s skills-based approach requires that every student in our public schools (special-need students included) get the best, most accurate aptitude test designed specifically to:

• Identify a student’s unique personality, natural talents and strengths; and

• Assist the student and parent(s) to target a career path that aligns with the student’s interests and abilities and opens possibilities that were never even on the radar prior to identifying individual strengths.

Based on their aptitude scores, plus support/advice from their school counselors and parents, Mirrors of H.O.P.E. would enhance student participation in developing personalized and targeted career goals by allowing:

• All eighth graders to choose ninth and 10th grade electives that match their interests and line up with gaining additional knowledge to enhance their marketable skill set;

• All 10th grade students to refine their course selection for 11th and 12th grade electives that matches their career interests; and

• All 12th graders to participate in a mentorship program or an employer–sponsored apprenticeship that exposes them to actual “workday realities” of their chosen career.

Every individual has unique gifts and abilities. The mission of Mirrors of H.O.P.E. is to work on a viable solution to the educational inequity and inequality that currently exists throughout America.

This will require close collaboration among government, school districts, post-secondary institutions and local employers. Together, these stakeholders must decide what students need to learn in the classroom before they enter the workplace.

President Trump, stop the negative tweets and give all Baltimore’s students hope so that some won’t choose dope and a life of violent crime. Invest in Mirrors of H.O.P.E. and Baltimore’s students will become productive citizens and Baltimore and our country will be a better place.

In a nutshell, my wife’s short rap says it best:

Don’t scream restitution. Work on a viable solution. Promote self-inspection. Give time for reflection. Help them choose a direction. They will strive for perfection!

 Neil G. Russell

Queenstown

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