Saturday, July 28, 2007

What can I do?

As grad school gets ready to start up again, I have been doing a lot of thinking about education. As I wait to hear about my doctoral application, I have been doing a lot of thinking about the state of education and where I really want my focus of study to take me. Do I really plan to just go back to the classroom and try and make a difference in a small number of lives--don't get me wrong any difference made is substantial. Do I want to work at the district level trying to improve the writing programs across the curriculum and across grade levels? Do I want to focus on leadership so that someday I can open and run my own school? The questions are deep and the answers varied. On some level the answer to each question is yes. Well isn't that a bit of a pickle. Can I really do all of those thing and manage my own sanity and raise my family? I am pretty sure I can. But do I want to?

Would I be happy in the classroom teaching? Yes. Would I be happy administering a writing program for an entire district? Yes, as long as it is a district that is under performing--those of us with a head start don't need more of one. Would I be happy running and managing my own school? Without a doubt, but I would be doing the first 2 things as well. What about teaching teachers? I would love that too. Or community college folks--that would be great as well. The choices appear almost limitless. What is a girl to do?

Where can I affect the most change? That is where I want to be. I have been doing a great deal of thinking about why our educational system is in such turmoil. I have an answer. I know it only I was the head of the Department of Education--but if I were, I would probably no longer be able to clearly see the problem. Is our educational system broken at some level? Yes. If so who does it really work for? Well let me tell you in case you haven't guessed--but I know you have as you are all pretty smart out there in my virtual little world. The educational system works for those middle and upper class folks--of all races and fails those working poor folks--and immigrants--regardless of resources most often. Those in power don't realize the failings because their kids and the kids of their friends function just fine in this educational system that was designed to replicate what the rich folks were able to give their kids hundreds of years ago.

I know this isn't politically correct--but why can't we design a system that works for the have nots? Well, because the have nots don't have anything to offer to the haves who are the ones who are in charge. I am a have. I wasn't always, but I was enough of one that I have been afforded most of the same privileges they have. Without the opportunity to attend college I would not be where I am today. It was never a question of whether or not I would graduate high school and go to college. But for so many it is. For so many their values and cultures are overlooked in schools and we wonder why they don't want to go. Who wants to go somewhere for 6+ hours a day to listen to someone who has no idea where they come from talk about something that has no bearing on their lives presently. When you are worried about putting food on the table or where your next meal is going to come from, do you really care that Shakespeare wrote 144 sonnets and what the rhyme scheme of those sonnets are? I don't really either and I was and am an English major and English teacher.

If when you get home to have to help cook, take care of siblings and hope the gunfire stays at bay, do you really care that you have a 2 page paper due on the rise if Imperialism? No. When you can make more money selling drugs do you care that you can borrow money to go to college--that you have to pay back with your entry level $30,000 a year job?

Yes the educational system is broken. But only for those who are different than those in charge--which we all know is a huge majority. I want to help fix it. But can I? As I resemble those in charge and not those who are being failed?

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