We often forget days passed. When we sat in the very seats you’re in, walked down the same halls, complained about school lunch and couldn’t wait for summer break to begin. But as we’ve grown into adulthood, we look back and realize that decisions that we make are for you to have a better experience than we did. How can we better understand your needs? What do you even like about school? Does it really matter if you attend a private, public traditional, public charter, virtual or home school? Our focus should be in preparing you for the future, yet it seems as if we only focus on how high you can perform on a test as opposed to the sound decisions you make or the lives you will save.
Do you think that we are so disconnected from your needs that we don’t see you? We don’t hear your voices or recognize your interests. Many of you walk down hallways, sit in desks and ride on buses, often times overlooked and unseen. We give so much attention to the tagged, SPED or behavior challenged students that so many of you are forgotten. The ones that don’t make noise in class, aren’t disrespectful and don’t call for a lot of attention. These students are too often forgotten, but I see you. To us, the peer pressure, puppy love, friendship drama, extra curricular activities and social status that are a huge deal to you were once our lives. In fact, adults are sometimes oversized children still dealing with the same issues they faced as an adolescent. Everything was a huge issue and every conflict felt like the end of the world when we were students too. It seems like we really don’t understand or recognize where you are, but we do. In fact, the reality is that as adults, we still battle with the things. We’re just able to make different choices.
Elementary school was our coming of age. Middle school or junior high was an emotional roller coaster. Who wasn’t suspended or in ISS in 7th grade? High School helped us find our voices and made us desire a different world that college days would bring. But as an adults, we realized that even though education should be equitable that it’s not. That many of our classmates had different experiences because of their zip code, last name, test scores or the color of their skin.
Time will teach you that the facts of life; that regardless of how much you do to escape the ugliness of this country that labels, divides, separates, leaves behind, unjustly kills and oppresses doesn’t go away if you simply just overlook the things that don’t directly affect you because everything affects us. Don’t make the mistake that so many of us made before who’ve also been forgotten by the educational system, exploited by the human trafficking pipeline and targeted by the prison system. Giving back isn’t just for the kids who need an opportunity, it’s for the ones who never even knew they deserved to have one.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.