The final thing that was so impressive was their ability to discuss the issues (their topic was the low pass rate on the social work license examination in Mississippi as compared with the national pass rate) in a comprehensive way. They seemed to grasp the systemic nature of the problem, including the education system in MS, the influence of poverty, and the status of MS as a whole in terms of all the indicators of importance (economics, education, etc.) They also did not let programs off the hook, identifying the possibility that they were not being taught to apply knowledge to really practice social work, and that perhaps the standards of admission should be higher. They referenced other programs where the admission requirements were higher, and questioned the relevance of that factor in the MS outcome. And finally, they all agreed that THEY as well as US need to take action: that they as future social workers bore an obligation to help address the inequities that resulted in the unfavorable outcomes here; that the future social work students would be THEIR colleagues and that this group of students could and should help us to solve this problem.
It was another moment when I am hopeful for the future, and pleased to have been part of the present.