I am really good at thinking less of myself. I have used many negative words to describe myself lately, selfish, immature, irrational, CHB, etc. However, I am also really good at making myself feel better about these words..."if I don't look out for myself, who will?" "If you can't have fun, why live?" "If I make a quick decision, it must be what I really want." And let's be honest, I'm pretty proud of my CHB status...not really, but I can't rationalize it. So if I can do this about my personality traits, why not about education?
“I don't want my children with THOSE
kids...” I answered the phone today at my
school that is closing and heard this statement. We are trying to see if we could be housed at
another school that is also closing after next year. This parent was not happy
about her kids going to school with "those" kids at the other school.
Demographically, they are very similar. The other school just has a bad rep-but
really it's not that bad. When I told people I was working at this school
current school, I got a lot of "I'm sorry" and "why??". It
really ticked me off that people would say that-and now these parents are
judging another school. Both of these
schools are less than 5% White, majority African American, a few Hispanic. It really ticks me off to think if you
go back 50 years to integration, these same words were uttered-unfairly and
unjustly. People should really watch their words, connotations and
At the magnet forums Durham had before all the closings
were announced there was a campaign "don't roll the dice, make all the
schools nice." Well it wouldn't matter. It's a nice sentiment, but
seriously, people's preconceived notions trump the truth. Hillside High
was a tough school when I was in elementary school in Durham. It got a
new building, tried to change the districting but basically stayed the same.
However, now the school is beautiful, the teachers have been trained in
tons of new techniques and they have good administration. I was talking
to a teacher about the school the other day and she mentioned she would never
want to work there because it's so bad, with "those" kids. Even
educators keep reputations alive.
When I tell people that I am going abroad, I hear a lot of “Why?” and “Are you teaching Americans?”
When I tell them I am teaching Arabic students they have a little freak
out. They are letting their
preconceived notions about the Arabic communities guide their thoughts. I spend a lot of time trying to calm
fears and questions for people.
But then I start to wonder….am I calming my grandmothers’ (probably all
four of them) fears or my own? Am
I worried about teaching THOSE children, in THAT country? Am I continuing the stereotypes or am
trying to defy them?
When I first got teaching fellows I thought that I wanted
to teach remedial math to low performing students. I then got into teaching for real and realized that I did
not have to be at a “bad” school or teach the “low courses” to give help where
it is most needed. While it would
be great if all of the schools in a community were on the same playing field,
it won’t happen. What CAN happen
is that the community can support the teachers and students attending ANY
school. Everyone needs and
deserves an education. If we are
not educating our youth, we are not supporting our future. One reaction a person had to me moving abroad was, “what
about Americans?” How can we think
like this when we live in such a global community? Education is a worldwide need. Not just in America, but everywhere. Yes, there are many perks to going
abroad, and yes, they are the reason I am going, but I do believe that “THOSE”
kids need education too-and a darn good one. So I realized that I am a little bit of a hypocrite, saying I am doing research to calm others' minds, when I am really calming my own too...and also admitting that this advocate for public education is now teaching privately...but again, I embrace my downfalls.
So when it comes down to
it-should I stay here and fight the good fight? Am I running away from the problems I see facing America or
am I running to new problems?
Both. I want education to
be about the children, not about the teachers. I want students to deem education as a privilege, and to
treat it with respect. I want school to be a students’ safe place or home, not
their enemies. I want administration
to support teachers’ new ideas, not to worry about the political reasons not too. I want the LEA to support all of the
schools, and provide equal resources, no matter what the scores, money or
community. These problems are
Mrs. Richmond (from NE)
put it perfectly-we are trying to solve problems with solutions that cause new
problems. We are solving problems, with problems. I know that moving will not be a cure all, it will bring about new problems. However, I am hoping to learn, grow and redefine education, for myself. I will teach "those" kids. When I come back I will teach a different group of "those" kids. But one day, I hope that I can say I teach "our" kids. No matter where I work....