A Dear John Letter to Education

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         February 7, 2017

Dear Education,

If I could reverse time back to the Brown v. Board of Education time period, I wonder would you have imagined that in 2017 children would still be treated the same way. That the same battle of the have and have-nots would continue to separate and divide us. That children and families would still have unequal access to opportunities.

As an Educator, when I think about you I see endless possibilities. I see families and the excitement of the first day of school, the relief from grandparents sending the grandchildren they are raising to a mentoring or after-school program for support, the smiling face of a child learning their ABC’s, the moments of student clubs, prom, awards ceremonies, concerts and graduation.

However, if I’m completely honest, in this country, what I think about you unfortunately isn’t the standard. More and more students are raising themselves, parents are disregarded and disengaged by schools while communities are being torn apart because of them.

In a nation that is unified on many things, we are divided when it comes to how our children learn, grow and play. 

Our experience with you depends on our zip code, our account balance, the color of our skin.

Yes, race still matters in 2017. We believe that we’re getting what everyone else gets, but we know that it’s still hand-me-downs, just not as used or worn out since technology is in. The gifts, talents and ideas we bring to the table are masked by achievement gains, hidden under test scores, and exploited by funding.

Everyone lines up ready to revive the “West or South Side” when the tax write-off is greater because our property values have been lowered. You are used to abuse us. Having been extorted and falsely portrayed by the media and entertainment because it teaches us how to love, hate, embrace or segregate. Society exhausts most of the resources into doing this leaving the leftovers to go to education.

The same fight as before, the field vs the house Negroes. Now it’s the fight between traditional public and charter schools to see who’s going to play which role.

The system pays your teachers less than what they deserve to come in and build, repair, uplift, restore, lead, guide, train, counsel, coach, mentor and teach the future leaders of this world. Your support staff persons that run the front office, prepare meals, maintain facilities, drive buses, work with parents and guide our children and families into schools are given low wages making many of them the working poor.

I’d ask for those leading you to understand that you are the heartbeat of this Nation.

I’d petition them to rethink policies they put in place that put our children in harm’s way. I’d caution them of political ambiguity which creates poor school culture and climate. I’d urge them to stand up for what is right for the children and communities they serve. Uphold the vision of ensuring that all children receive equitable resources and equal access to opportunities.

I’d warn leaders not to experiment on our children with reform models that sound good but just keep the wheel of under-performance turning. Let’s correct the mistakes of our past and stop continuing the cycle of failure.

 

Concerned for our Future,

 

A Product of Public Education

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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.

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