The bell rings and twenty-nine angelic faces look to her for guidance. In that moment she realizes that while as Governor overseeing the statistical lives of her state’s almost four million citizens is a huge responsibility – one she takes seriously, being entrusted with the actual lives of these twenty-nine cherubs is a grander burden.
Initially an eager participant in the new ‘Leaders in School’ program, the Governor is becoming increasingly dismayed as the reality of spending an entire day working as an educator in the public school system is becoming clear. It was bad enough that she had to make her own coffee and breakfast this morning and then actually drive herself to school, but facing a day without her personal assistants seems like cruel and unusual punishment.
The day is only forty seconds old, and she is already looking for a light at the end of an awfully long tunnel.
It’s a grueling day for the Gov. She does her best to follow the scribbled lesson plans with outdated textbooks, only enough computers for half the students, a white board with a couple dried-out markers and some antiquated pull-down maps. Keeping the class on task and moving forward becomes increasingly difficult as seven of the twenty-nine students speak Spanish as their lengua materna.
When lunchtime mercifully arrives she is finally able to relieve herself before rushing out to work playground duty for the first lunch, and then be amazed to discover that teachers have to pay $4 for a piece of cafeteria pan pizza and some tots. She tries to pay, but has to borrow a dollar – as teachers often do.
By 2:30 a dim light is beginning to shine, and as the students gather their things and line up at the door, she spots a set of parents – obviously upset – waiting outside the classroom. The parents enter as the children leave, and the (presumed) husband begins to complain in a slow, simmering Spanglish from which the Gov gleans that one of the Caucasian children said a Spanish curse word to their child, and that he had texted the parents about the affront. How can you let this happen? Don’t you know what is going on in the classroom? How can you let children say such things? ¿Qué pasa?
While employing her very best diplomatic skills and struggling to remember anything from tenth grade clasé de español, a loud yet muffled, hollow POP rings out … heartbeat, heartbeat … POP, another. “Get on the ground, and do not move!”, she whispers very authoritatively. heartbeat, heartbeat …
“Sorry everybody!”, Skip the Custodian chuckles and yells simultaneously from the corridor, “I just dropped a couple florescent bulbs is all.”
“Holy shit”, she thought, realizing that she’d now have to deal with the parents again, wondering if she might be better off just staying on the floor. “We gotta make this better.”
Let’s get serious about funding education.
The U.S. ranks squarely in the middle of worldwide achievement in Science, Math and Reading.
No one likes taxes, but are we really so cheap as to purposefully provide our children – the children we fuss over and helicopter above and protect against all odds – merely a mediocre education? School districts consistently make a classic business mistake by trying to operate undercapitalized. Each new tax levy pleads for a slight increase, leaving our kids in the role of polite beggars and faculty rooms filled with teachers fretting about how many of them will still have jobs on the ‘morrow. If you need a ten percent increase, don’t ask for a two percent increase – stand up and ask for the ten! But first …
Show us what it looks like.
Somewhere in some school district in America there must be a forward-looking superintendent that is willing to put his eggs in one basket, and build the perfect classroom. Just one – it will expensive. It might include upgradable tablets built into each desk, ergonomic study stations and teaching stations, interconnectivity with schools across the world for interactive second and third language conversations with peers learning English, and digital teaching aides and apps that offer optional methods for instructing and evaluating students’ progress. Put some smart kids in it and take it for test drive.
Then hire a marketing firm to show it to us. Pay for national TV ads. Wow us! Convince us that it will help give our kids a much better education. Let us see our students converse in Chinese or Spanish with students continents away, and cooperatively solve calculus equations with students miles away. Let us see what our exceptional youngsters can create when given an opportunity, and let our minds be blown … and we will pay for it.
Take a stand.
It is difficult to consider places where killers somewhat routinely massacre kids to be a safe work environment. OSHA regulations indicate that employers must: ensure worker safety and health through worksite enforcement, education and compliance assistance, and cooperative and voluntary programs. Generally speaking schools are not in compliance with this, nor do they pass the Department of Labor’s Workplace Violence Checklist
Surely the NEA’s lawyers are capable of reminding Congress that teachers (and students) are not being provided a safe work environment, and inform them that the nation’s proud educators will not return to work until and unless they are provided a safe work environment – one predicated upon a national ban on assault weapons, as they serve no positive purpose in our society and have proven to be the casual assassin’s weapon of choice.
Striking teachers will create a sort of chaos that will force lawmakers to pay attention, and short of a group of anti-NRA lobbyists drastically outspending and attacking the NRA, it doesn’t appear as if another group in the nation has near enough power to make a difference. A non-violent protest to an extremely violent issue. An idea that we have heard before, and that has worked before. One that will work again.
Perhaps ‘Leaders in School‘ isn’t a bad idea either – maybe something worth thinking about. It sure was an eye-opening experience for the Governor in our story!
A graduate of Portland State University, Steve Kloser is the author of
– Beginning Band – A Guide to Success and
– Let’s Make Music – Classroom Recorder Course.
He is also an accomplished teacher, conductor and composer, having penned numerous pieces including:
–La Vida and Fly With Me.
Teacher, web developer, Packers fan and proud American, Reeno’s usually slanted outlook often presents an unlikely perspective on issues old and new. Reeno currently lives in Portland, OR.
Read more at reeno317.me or follow Reeno on Twitter