I have been busy. I like writing this blog, but when I get busy with meetings and reports and such, I put off writing. Today I have been busy not watching the news. I have been very busy finding anything, any little thing to keep me too busy to watch the news coming out of Newtown, Connecticut and hearing the voices of screaming parents and frightened little ones. I am so busy not wanting to think, that I will not put off writing what I do not want to write.
First, let me just say, that I’m not advocating lying to children. I’m not proposing that moms and dads make up silly lies and tell tall tales just to get kids to eat healthier. I am absolutely not saying that. Lying to your children is wrong. And you get caught.
Because my (then) four year old, Jeremy, had a sweet tooth, and I got tired of fighting with him about why it just wasn’t good for him to be eating so much sugar and that diabetes runs in my family, and his teeth would rot but, I mean, I was worried about his health, and what else was I supposed to do? So.
I told him it was against the law for kids to buy a cereal with a cartoon on the box unless it was their birthday.
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.
I’m at the annual Representative Assembly of my National Education Association. We are a strange but noble people. We are passionate. We wear T-shirts and buttons that say funny things. We are generous. We are sensitive and kind and a little crazy. We are very smart. We care about someone else’s child.
These teachers and support professionals and college professors and librarians and principals and counselors and school nurses and anyone and everyone who touches the life of a student from preschool to graduate school have been duly elected and certified to represent the NEA members back home who sent them here to be their voice.
We sit in a huge cavernous hall with 40 microphones and 22 big screen monitors and we listen, learn, teach, debate and decide positions and actions of the NEA focused around a mission to prepare each and every blessed student to succeed in an increasingly diverse and interconnected world - A world that needs them all to be more than accomplished test-takers.
It needs them to be thinkers and doers; engaged in our civil and cultural society; connected to others in ways we could not have imagined possible when I began teaching 4th graders thirty-one years ago.