Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Education, Education, Education

My people, my desire to write has been so great, but...... You know how it goes sometimes!

I’ve been reading this incredibly, wonderful short story called “The First Day” by Edward P. Jones with my students for years. I normally pass out just the first page, and we analyze that page looking for literary devices to try and understand what makes this passage so rich, and we also try and make predictions. The reading and analyzing of this amazing first page is a great way to get students to start or continue to dissect and appreciate good literature.

After we read and analyze the first page, then I allow the students to read the entire story to see if their predictions are correct, to take a closer look at the literary devices, and to use this piece in order to try and figure out the message that Edward P. Jones is trying to convey with this piece.

On this read, I saw something that I have never seen before, and I have been wrestling with this idea every since.

This mother takes her daughter to the school next to her “rock,” her church, and it is described as being very old, but the inside was nice and clean, and the people were polite. However “the guardian” told the mother that she was at the wrong school, and she needed to take her daughter to another school. The other school building was new, but the inside was crowded, and dirty, and people were literally everywhere. And this got me to thinking about the idea of “If our system is designed to keep people in their places?”

You know, when people are zoned to go to schools in their neighborhoods, and their neighborhood school may be a “mess.” Or, when kids are labeled, at a young age, to be a candidate for special education, and they are tracked to be in huge classes with far to many students with Individualized Educational Plans (IEP). By the way, IEP’s are what we give to students who are labeled as a candidate for special education.

My people, this simple little short story got me thinking about all of this and paying closer attention to my surroundings. Many days I’ve been thinking about getting in my car and riding into the sunset or being courageous like Jesmyn Ward, Ta-Nehisi Coates, or Kiese Laymon and telling what I know to the whole world. So, I have been treading somewhere in the middle, trying to make a difference in my circle of influence.

I don’t want to sound like some over zealous person who believes that everything can be fixed, but I do believe that our education system can be fixed, but I wonder if that is what our country wants to do?

Why aren't we treating this teacher shortage crisis like the crisis that it is? Why are we still allowing many students to be tracked and once they are tracked, their futures are sealed? AND, this works well for students who happen to be tracked to be successful and rule the world, but my heart goes out to the other students whose tracking just may not work in their favor.

I’m thinking about the possibility of getting away from all of the politicking that goes into educating children and just doing what’s best for children: smaller class sizes, even smaller class sizes for students with IEPs, school buses getting students to school on time, culturally sensitivity training for EVERYBODY, and giving teachers and principals all that they may need to help children to flourish, and we all know, or I hope that we all know, that needs varies from school to school, county to county, and state to state.

When trying to educate the masses, there is no cookie cutter approach, and I wish that I could scream this from the mountain tops. Well, I guess I could scream these ideas from the mountain tops, but I wonder if anyone would hear me.....

My People, My People, My People!!!

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