6 #IWishMyTeacherKnew Notes That Broke Our Hearts

Photographed by Ruby Yeh.
A public school teacher in Denver started a project to better get to know her students. The unexpectedly eye-opening results threw a spotlight on the complicated barriers to success lower-income children face. 

Earlier this month, Kyle Schwartz, who teaches at Doull Elementary School in Denver, asked her class to write down something they each wished she knew about them. She collected the results and put some out on Twitter under the hashtag #IWishMyTeacherKnew, and has since been joined by teachers around the country trying the same activity. 

Schwartz teaches in a low-income neighborhood (92% of the kids at Doull qualify for free or reduced lunches, as she told ABC News), and among the jokes about too much math homework and calls for extra recess were some serious — and sad — stories.
Kids being kids, plenty of their messages are cute, funny, and sometimes a little rude. 
The campaign — which has now been picked up by news outlets across the country — is underscored by some serious, and troubling, news about the state of American public education.

The wealth gap is wider than it's been in a generation, and the difference in opportunity between students in cash-strapped public schools and wealthier Americans (who often choose to send their children to private schools) is bigger than it's ever been. For the first time in the country's history, a majority of public school students live in poverty, according to a new report by the Southern Education Fund.

It's a serious problem, since how well kids do in school is a real predictor of their future success. If we're going to reverse the trend, we'll obviously need a lot more than a hashtag. But, having conversations like the one undertaken by Ms. Schwartz in Denver may just be a start.

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