Saturday, January 19, 2008
No Child Left Behind...Yeah Right?!
So, after I make my grand resolutions, I didn't open up my blog page for 20 days!
However, I have been paying particular attention to my son who is in 8th grade and going to high school next year.
I unfortunately would not send him to a public school in Los Angeles unless I could personally go in and handpick each one of his teachers, every year until he graduates. Being a teacher myself, I know that would be a nightmare to everyone including me. So, my son and I have spent the last couple of weeks filling out applications, writing essays and setting up interviews for private schools.
He is a 13 year old boy and so he asks very erudite questions regarding his next educational institution. "Do they have a great basketball team and cute girls there?" This of course helps the process immensely.
It is a very difficult thing to be a teacher, who began a career in public schools and not feel remotely confident in sending my children to public school. I know first hand of the lack of QUALIFIED, caring teachers. But more so of the bureaucratic bull-shit that keeps the status quo. It is the fact that overwhelmingly, African American and Latino children are being under-served (if the majority of them are doing poorly on standardized tests, something is wrong (DUH!), a disproportionate number of African American boys end up in special education and ignored because teachers do not understand, or care to learn how to teach in a way that makes as many children successful as possible, but also that teachers(new and veteran) do not get the support that they need because of politics, egos, and administrators who have had their integrity (balls) confiscated by the "body snatchers". Or... maybe, they just forgot that our job is to TEACH children, not "make sure that I park my Porsche Cayenne away from any possible 'ding' situations!"
Don't get me wrong. I am not begrudging hard-working people their lifestyles. However, I am a little upset that my options for a quality education for my children are so narrow.
So my son and I are writing, reading and setting up appointments for some very wonderful, prestigious, and EXPENSIVE private, college prep school here in the Los Angeles area. My son of course is brilliant, and this is an important step towards his future, so I am being very diligent in this quest. But I can't help but think of my other students and the millions of students around the country, who are also brilliant but because of their color, or circumstance are not guaranteed a quality education.
We are really talking about our futures here. Mine, yours, our children's. This is a Martin Luther King holiday weekend. My step-daughter is marching in a parade in his honor. But I must acknowledge that we are still sooooo far from his dream and the dream of thousands of others who fought for the rights of every child to have an opportunity to a quality education and a purposeful, successful life.
I am fortunate. I will be able to send my child to a wonderful school that will match his needs and aspirations. Not easily, and not without sacrifice, but I can do it. But what about the millions of mother's, fathers' and children who cannot? What becomes of them. They are brilliant, they are talented, and maybe.... they are stuck?!