Saturday, March 12, 2016

Troubling Thoughts

Previous bitterness still lingers a bit. I discovered that this week. So I feel like I need to apologize to my former students. No matter how hard I tried to make your experience in elementary school fun and enjoyable, I couldn't block out the subliminal message. The message always was: You aren't good enough, you aren't gifted, like those other kids. You weren't allowed to do the morning announcements, because you weren't gifted. You weren't allowed to have the lead roles or speaking parts in the school's theater arts productions, because you weren't gifted. You weren't allowed to go on special field trips, because you weren't gifted. You had to stand in line for free and reduced school lunch each day. You had to spend mind-numbing hours in pointless ELD classes. During some years, you weren't allowed to have access to science and social studies. And, you sometimes had to have teachers that weren't really up to par, simply because your parents couldn't advocate for you. You got to be in an overcrowded classroom, while the gifted class was not even close to being full.

I feel endless remorse for this. I feel like I bent over backwards to give you a good education, but the system was still in place. My efforts were just a song and dance, provided to try to make you feel equal. The system provided the de facto racism. And, the system continues on. Parents who advocate to have their children placed in the special program, get in, despite their children not passing the entrance test. Back in my day, parents could actually pull their students from my class, and have them placed in the gifted class, despite their inability to pass the test. And, on some occasions, despite their grades, test scores, and in spite of their classroom performance. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. One teacher actually said, "Smart people have smart children," in order to somehow justify how certain families in the community would have all of their children placed in the program, even if some of their children had inadequate test scores.

I feel so ashamed to have been a part of this system. I did really try my hardest to be the best teacher I could be, and to distract you from the unfairness. But, it was still there, and I know that you felt it. I've been fretting and vomiting up these thoughts all week. So glad that I left. So glad that I am allowed to teach everyone again. My career began that way, and hopefully, it will end that way...

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