Why I Want to Write a Book

I read The Help a few weeks ago and saw the movie this weekend and left feeling inspired.  People like the maids portrayed in that story are the reason the civil rights movement ever had an impact.  Yes, the marches and speeches were important, but more than that I believe it was the little things, the day-to-day victories where African-Americans demanded to be treated with dignity as human beings.

And all this, of course, got me thinking about education.  In my opinion, the fight to close the achievement gap is today’s civil rights movement.  Unfortunately, it is a fight that is mishandled, mismanaged, and misunderstood at every turn.  And who really suffers for that?  The students.

We hear a lot about education from the adults in this country.  We hear from politicians, from unions, from teachers, from parents, from public school leaders, from charter school leaders, from superintendents, from organizations, from think tanks, and on and on and on.  And yet we never seem to ask the students what it is like to be in public education today.

What does it feel like to not have a schedule for the first few weeks of school?  What does it feel like to spend half a day in homeroom, for seemingly no reason?  What does it feel like to have a teacher that cares?  What does it feel like to have a teacher who puts an assignment on the board and then sits at her desk?  To have a teacher that stays on his cell phone most of the day?  To get suspended for a uniform violation while watching three other students walk by sporting the same violation?  To sit in a room with a broken air conditioner in the South in May and be expected to learn?  To walk in on a drug deal in the bathroom?  To know that someone has brought a weapon into the building, but the administration doesn’t know?  To be faced with adults who demand respect without ever doing anything to earn it or show it in return?

What does it feel like to them?  What is it like to spend 12 years of your life in a desk in one of the worst performing districts in the country?

We need to know the answers to these questions.  We need to hear their stories.  Everyone from the secretary of education to the secretary at the smallest school in the smallest district needs to listen and understand.  Until we take some time to listen to the ones we are supposed to be educating, I’m not sure we’ll ever really fix things.

And we desperately need to fix things.

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1 Comment

  1. Dad

     /  August 20, 2011

    I think you should definitely do this. You could make a breakthrough!

    Reply

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