That was the prayer of those babies’ teacher, Anna Canaday. When the Oklahoma tornado hit Plaza Towers Elementary School Monday, she and her colleague, Jessica Simonds, tried to get the kindergartners to shelter. There was no time. She shielded her babies with her body, saving them when a black Ford blew into the school hallway and fell on top of her. When rescuers removed the car, they found the two teachers badly hurt. The children were under them had minor scratches.
Anna was not alone in a spontaneous combustion of courage. So many others acted with no thought of their own safety – they only thought of their babies. They calmed frightened children so that they were able to march them into closets and bathrooms and under desks. They hugged them and comforted them. They loved them.
Trabajadoras: Challenges and Conditions of Latina Workers in the United States has stark graphs of statistics that clearly show the high poverty rates; the low education attainment; low homeowner rates; the dismal employment ratios; lack of health insurance and any sort of retirement plans of Latinas.
The report is not a cry for pity or charity. It’s a call to action.
We ignore the reality of these numbers to our peril. To our communities’ peril. To the country’s peril. These women are hardworking, talented people with as much potential as anyone on the planet. Why are the numbers so astoundingly headed in the wrong direction? Many reasons.
There are two stories to tell in Chester Upland School District in Pennsylvania. One is a heroic story worthy of a book or movie deal. There are plenty of movies about the lone teacher crusader who against all odds and against the establishment brings students out of the darkness of ignorance and into the light of the power of their own futures.
I’m a sucker for those movies. But I have a love-hate relationship with them because inevitably, in order to lionize the hero, they have to make all the other teachers in the school less than heroes. They have to make the principal a bully. Movies need a good guy to cheer for and bad guys to boo over. Así es la vida. That’s the way it goes.
Chester Upland, a poor and predominantly minority district, is a long way from Hollywood, but it does have a star in Sara Ferguson.
For more than ten long, empty, intellectually dry and dishonest years, we’ve lived under the insanity of No Child Left Untested. (Someone told me not to be so negative. Trust me. I’m holding back.) Children, especially poor children, have been subjected to a corporate “reform” mentality of pass/fail by making their quota of test score points on some standardized garbage never designed to gauge anything more delicately complex than a child’s understanding of where the comma goes.