To be honest, the statistics that Koloz provided did not seem to surprise me. Inner-city schools, such as those found in Detroit, Chicago, and New York, have a disproportionately high African-American and Hispanic population. However, to hear from a teacher in the South Bronx that she has been “teaching for eighteen years” and it was in this year she had “the first white student” (3) she ever had truly puts into perspective the large number of minority students found in large cities (well, is it even appropriate to say ‘minority’ when clearly this population is the majority?). I have always assumed (and I hope this isn’t me being naïve) that schools which are named after prominent black leaders (Martin Luther King, Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Rosa Parks, etc) are heavily populated with people of color. However, what I found to be absolutely insane is that when a school named after Dr. King was placed inside “an upper-middle class white neighborhood”, many white students opted not to attend and it instead became a “destination for black and Hispanic students who could not obtain admission into more successful schools.” (4) As Koloz put it, this particular school is “one of the nation’s most visible and problematic symbols of an expectation rapidly receding and a legacy substantially betrayed.” (4)
Can Money Help Buy a Good Education? Uh, Do You Breathe to Live?
My hometown of West Warwick is known for not having a very productive school system. Actually, I think West Warwick has one of the highest dropout rates in the state. When I would have begun elementary school in the early 90s, my parents opted to send me to Catholic school for my entire thirteen years of education. This didn’t come without a price. My father worked three jobs, totaling about 90 hours a week, for a good 20 years of his life. He felt a quality education for his children was his biggest priority. So, to me, when Koloz talks to these (let’s face it) hypocritical parents who send their children to “Baby Ivies” (9) yet ask questions like “Is it really the answer to throw money into these dysfunctional and failing schools?” (10), the result is rather frustrating. Of course my parents sent me and my siblings to Catholic school because they wanted a better education than the public school of my town could provide. You think my father wanted to spend the majority of his life inside the walls of Stop and Shop/ truck delivery? Money may not be able to buy happiness, but it can buy a whole bunch of other things, like supplies, technology, and a safe building with heat for students to learn in. Speaking of heat, the big joke in my classroom last year was that the heater hated everyone because it hardly ever worked. I mean, I literally held class in the room with students wearing gloves and jackets. However, looking at schools that have “green fungus molds growing in the office where students went for counseling”, classes with “thirty-four kids and more”, “no outdoor playground and no indoor gym”, and barrels to “collect rain water coming through the ceiling” (7) definitely make me appreciate the school I teach at. My school is relatively clean, there is hardly any graffiti (except on desks), and classrooms have bright colored posters and student work everywhere. There are beautiful art murals throughout the school painted by former students, and the custodians are always cleaning well-populated areas. The idea that children who attend under-funded schools feel as though they are “being hidden” (5) away and forgotten about is depressing. What kind of child benefits from learning in this type of gloomy environment?!
It’s All About the Environment
I found the story that Koloz provided on page 15 to be absolutely ridiculous. A teacher who merely wanted to bring a pumpkin into school for a holiday treat had to academically justify her pumpkin with semantics?! IT’S A FREAKIN PUMPKIN!! Can’t learning just be FUN?! Isn’t that why kids actually LIKED elementary school?? Ya know, cause it was FUN! Speaking of pumpkins, schools seem to be killing fun the same way Lucy killed Linus's pumpkin in “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”
Why can’t some things in school just be for enjoyment every once and a while? Spirit week this week confirmed for me why I absolutely love the school I work at- students AND teachers engage in community building activities because it provides an opportunity for bonding! Kids are able to laugh with and at their teachers for getting so involved. And I work in an urban-ring district, so it's not like the students at my school are from afflent areas. It’s an amazing community feeling that I hope exists at other high schools.
|Members of the History/ English Department at NPHS; I'm bottom left! :)|