Ken Bernstein, veteran teacher and NBCT, listened to the Democratic debate (his picture was kaput on his TV). He was disappointed by how little was said about education, a familiar reaction. 
He writes:
“I was disappointed on how little there was on education. Yes, Bernie again mentioned free tuition at public colleges and universities. And Hillary talked about the school resource officer in SC (to which I will return beneath the fold), as well as the increasing percentage of students receiving Free and reduced Meals (for increasing numbers it is breakfast as well as lunch), but there was no discussion of what this administration has done that has distorted and damaged public education, and whether any of them would take a different approach….
Let me talk about an incident from my past. I will not identify the school, the grade level, when it occurred, or anything that might identify a student.
A student came up to me at the start of the day – I was the students’ homeroom teacher. The student said an uncle wanted me to call him. I checked quickly and the uncle was not listed as an adult contact for the student. It was clear the student, a very sweet kid, was very distressed. I explalned I could listen to the uncle but I could not discuss anything about the student to the uncle under Federal law. I asked if the student wanted to tell me what was going on, but the student was reluctant. I arranged for the student to talk first to someone in administration which led to the student talking to the counselor. Later that day the student was picked up from school by the uncle.
What had happened was in the overnight hours the local police had come into the home, pointed a gun at the mother in front of the student, and taken the mother out in handcuffs. The student had apparently called the uncle who was temporarily taking care of the student.
As I said, this was a very sweet student. Imagine a student who was not so sweet, imagine the stress, imagine what might have happened had an adult yelled at the student.
I think of another case of a student who came to school on a Monday very hungry, unable to concentrate. The student had not eaten since lunch at school on Friday.
I ask you how we could legitimate expect either of these students – and the many others with troubling situations – to focus on pure academics.
One reason I try to get to know my students (not always successfully) is so that I do not further damage a child/adolescent who is already in pain.
Think of 51% eligible for free and reduced meals. Understand that if school closes for bad weather, either that student or someone else in the household might not eat.
Think of the increasing numbers of students who live in shelters – no place to bring a friend over to one’s house.
One year at Eleanor Roosevelt I taught a very proud young man whose family had no fixed location, and sometimes had to sleep in their car. He would not come to school if he could not shower and at least wash his underwear. He was missing close to half of the school days, but could you blame him?
It goes further. We have students with little emotional control because of the circumstances in which they live. We have others who may suddenly act in unexpected and even explosive ways, perhaps because they can no longer keep bottled up all the hurt and pain and discrimination and hunger and poverty and violence with which they have to live.
Whoever our next President will be, I hope that s/he understand this, that what we are doing to our young people is sowing seeds of destruction for our nation.
I try to assure my students that in my classroom they will be safe – first physically, then emotionally, and also intellectually, the last so that I can challenge them and help them develop their thinking.
School has to be a welcoming place, because for too many of our young people it may be the one place of safety and comfort and even food upon which they can depend.
It is why our obsessing about test scores totally misses the point. It is why we should be focused on the whole child, which include the arts as a means of expression, and the very real need for some physical outlet, which could be traditional physical education, but could also be dance, or marching band. It is one reason I see a real need for teaching mindfulness, and perhaps things like yoga and meditation.  
So I am as much of a radical in my own way as others may be politically.
What will our candidates do for our young people?
They need an economic future.
They need a world that is not destroyed by global climate change.
They need security from terrorism.
But they also need basic emotional security and support.
They need regular medical and dental care.
They need food security.
They need a safe place to live.
They need stability in their lives.
Otherwise we are not serving them.
That was my strongest takeaway from tonight’s forum, perhaps because I have spent the last two decades working with young people in school settings.