Friday, April 3, 2015

Pre Vacation Reflections

Many schools across the country are struggling. Why is that? Well, my theory is that part of the struggle mirrors the difficulties that families are having in society. Many people have to work more hours than they would like to work, in order to make ends meet. And, this causes kids to basically be on their own. I used to have students who literally, because of conflicting working shifts, might not see one or both of their parents all week. They were eating free and reduced school lunch, because there was no time or money for their families to even feed the children. I'm thinking back to the countless unattended parent conferences over the years. Most of these were the direct cause of work schedules.

De facto segregation is something that I lived with for years as a teacher. Students of a certain color and economic status were placed in one room, and the rest ended up in other rooms. All was done in the name of labels, and in the name of satisfying the desires of a small group of parents. The daily hypocrisy of living with this was stomach turning. Unfortunately, when we set children on such a track, they rarely deviate from it. And, it is terribly unjust to place a small child, bursting with potential, on a path where he/she will fall farther and farther behind the norm. It builds a generation of "worker bees". I remember being told by a principal one year, that I was not allowed to teach Science or Social Studies to my class. Really, why teach children about the world in which they live, if your expectation is to disallow them a role in that world?

I have spent the past year in an inclusive classroom, and it is pretty amazing to watch the academic growth and the personal growth across the board. There is no feeling of elitism. Students seem to be united in purpose: learning the grade level content, and supporting one another.

I feel like there are many questions with the current state of education. And, the answers seem elusive.

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