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Kids, Learning, and Giving Up

Public schools in Philadelphia are in trouble. I hate to be pessimistic, but as a parent, as an educator…I’m scared. Really scared. Budget cuts have school buildings closing early, and not open at all for weekend programming, extracurricular activities downsized and summer school cancelled. Our students are struggling academically…last year only 42% of our schools made AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress), and the overall sense of apathy that fills the hallways of our dark, overcrowded schools only add to the bleak outlook for the future.
Last week, in a meeting with over a dozen “educators”, I was made to feel like an outcast for questioning our effectiveness and asking if, perhaps, our expectations of our own work was too low. I suggested that we evaluate our staffing choices in order to put more qualified youth workers in place. You know, real talk. No smoke. No screens. No rose colored glasses.
Because ain’t nothing rosy about a child that can’t read.
I don’t want to say that they didn’t care about the issues that I was addressing. I mean, they wouldn’t be there if they didn’t care, right? But, that day, in that meeting, with over a dozen “educators”, the majority of them silent, it sure felt like they didn’t care.
When educators aren’t outraged that poor Black kids aren’t reading on grade level because, well, look at the schools that they’re in, I’m not saying they don’t care. I’m just saying that it sure feels like they don’t care.
When administrators don’t have high expectations for the adults working with the students, and make excuses for their lack of care about the students’ academic wellbeing, I’m not saying that they don’t care. I’m just saying that it sure feels like they don’t care.
When people in a position to make change abstain from candid, open conversation about student successes and failures, in order to avoid conflict and preserve their own positions, I’m not saying that they don’t care. I’m just saying that it sure feels like they don’t care.
Here’s the thing, though. I do care. I care hard enough to be the bitch in staff meetings. I care enough to stay in a role where I’m underpaid, in an organization where I feel under appreciated…but it’s getting more and more challenging. I mean, I have my own child to fight for. How long can I fight for everyone else’s children? Especially if I feel like I’m fighting the very systems that are supposed to be helping.
I’m not saying I’m giving up. Sometimes, though, I just feel like giving up.