Joan Levy Zlotnik’s letter to the editor was published Saturday, Aug 2nd in the Washington Post in response to their July 26th story about Cedric Jennings, who went from Ballou High School in the District to Brown University [“A Success Story With Uncertain New Chapters,” Style]. Joan is the executive director of the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research.
The July 26 story about Cedric Jennings, who went from Ballou High School in the District to Brown University [“A Success Story With Uncertain New Chapters,” Style], quoted Jennings as saying he has been told he could be doing “greater” things than making a living as a social worker at the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency. That assertion seemed to be the gist of the story.
Perhaps if people better understood the complexities of social work, they would see it as more attractive and more important than working for a brokerage firm; that could lead to social work becoming more lucrative.
One of the greatest challenges that the social work profession faces today is that it is devalued by the public, by journalists and by policymakers. Social workers help people faced with life struggles, whether it’s a child abused by parents or a corporate CEO making plans to move a cognitively impaired and physically frail parent to an assisted living or nursing facility. With a lengthy article on Jennings’s soul-searching, The Post did a disservice to his decisions, the mentorship he received and the important work he is doing in our community.
Don’t we want the best and the brightest to be attracted to working with foster children or with parents who abuse their children? As a social worker, I am so proud of Cedric Jennings’s choice.