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.
I took a deep, cleansing yoga breath and watched some panel of puny pontificators, who have never stepped in front of a class of 36 hormonally-challenged 7th grade unconscientious objectors to homework, sanctimoniously agree amongst themselves that the only problem with schools these days is: Bad Teachers.
Good Teachers have no problems. So. When there were problems, it must because of: Bad Teachers. I took another yoga breath, threw a pillow at the TV and screamed my best ten potty words. Namaste.
Schools are the current topic of conversation because it’s time to reauthorize the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which provides modest federal education funding for children disadvantaged by poverty, discrimination, disability and language barriers. A Good Thing.
I reminded her that he gave us a down-payment on his promise to make education a priority by not only including jobs protection in the first stimulus package a year ago, but actually earmarking some of those jobs fund to protect school jobs - 300,000 teachers, school secretaries and custodians didn’t get pink slips because of those federal dollars that went right to schools.
Nostalgia is a powerful and often faulty lens. It can distort and makes the view seem at times softer and at times harsher than, in fact, it ever was.
I’ve been indulging myself in nostalgia these days as it occurs to me that my first 4th graders turn forty this year. Coincidentally, I turn thirty-nine. Go figure.
I have all their pictures hanging on the wall. They are gorgeous ten-year olds and it is quite impossible that they have pot bellies and graying temples and children in college. They will always be ten.