My American Creed

Education is one of the most important things in your life. It is important that educators make sure that no child is left behind, especially when education is their opportunity to become so much more than they can imagine.

By Mariah from Columbus High School in Montana

Education is the key to success. For some it means being the next educator in your family or becoming a writer. For some it may mean being the first in your family to graduate high school. However, for all of us, education means bettering yourself and your future. The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act was enacted in 2001. This law focuses on closing the distance between learning and achieving. It provides equal opportunity for the utmost education America can provide our youth. This is important to American values because as a nation we want everyone to be successful in life. The NCLB corresponds with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that was signed by President Obama on December 10, 2015, which paves the way for students all over America to achieve their dreams of becoming who ever they want when they grow up, as long as they put in the work to get there. Since both of these laws have been in place, the U.S. has seen a decrease in high school students dropping out, and graduation rates are at an all time high and are still increasing.

In the American Creed documentary film broadcast by PBS, Oklahoma elementary school principal Deidre Prevett says her relatives taught her important lessons, and that “...the message was education is the key to success, to better yourself.” This is important because without education you limit your mind, and you limit your potential to achieve success. Prevett is also a Creek Indian and fifth generation educator who has been very fortunate to know how crucial education is. In the film, she stated, “a lot of my kids, their families have to rely on welfare. A lot of my kids have one or both parents who are incarcerated. But we want to encourage our students and let them know that they can go on, they can do whatever they want.” This is significant because unfortunately not every child grows up in a stable home where they are taught that education is one of the most important things in your life. It is important that educators make sure that no child is left behind, especially when education is their opportunity to become so much more than they can imagine.

Writer Junot Diaz also speaks in the documentary and shares Prevett's views on education. Diaz immigrated from the Dominican Republic to America in 1974. He only spoke Spanish and had to learn English. When he was asked what he believes it should mean to be an American, he talked about his elementary librarian who spoke a different language but made sure he knew his privileges in the library were equal to everyone else's. It did not matter that he was poor or that he came from a different country, he still had access to the knowledge books provided. In the documentary he states, “This is a country that spends so little on education for the poor it is risible.” Although we have successful laws in place to help students through their education, we lack the tools to specifically help the impoverished children of America, especially those who have many setbacks throughout their education. We need to approach this issue from a different angle and find out exactly what setbacks we need to address in order to pave the way for students to achieve success. To truly be able to give every kid an equal opportunity for education.

I have had several setbacks in my high school career. Throughout these past four years I have moved ten times, attended four different public schools, and I’ve failed history twice. I grew up without both of my parents, and, at the age of 15, I was living on my own. I have experienced homelessness. However, I can proudly say that I will be the first in my family to graduate high school. Having an equal opportunity for education is what gave me the chance to persevere and make it to graduation. As a soon to be high school graduate, I plan on pursuing a higher education as a paramedic in the United States Army. It is my belief that with more educators like Deidre Prevett, students like me can be successful in achieving their dreams no matter the circumstances they need to overcome. 

Columbus High School

American Creed - Continuing the Conversation

This group consists of student responses to the American Creed documentary from PBS and Citizen Film.

More letters from Columbus High School

Surprise Me

More letters about "education", "equal opportunity", "future", "perseverance", and "success"

Surprise Me

Writing Our Future: American Creed is part of the National Writing Project’s family of youth publishing projects, all gathered under the Writing Our Future initiative.

Writing Our Future projects are designed by educators for educators and the young people they work with. Intended for use in schools, libraries, and other educational settings. All projects are COPPA compliant and educator-managed. NWP is committed to supporting young people’s writing and civic participation by providing a safe and supportive environment for youth writing, media creation, sharing, and publishing.