Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Uncivil War

This is the week when the school year ends. All over the country, it's time to grade the last papers, calculate, contemplate, and for some...graduate.
While there is often time to reflect, and congratulate, unfortunately, many educators will go home with no job for the fall. Huge layoffs continue, skimpy budgets in place. As if that isn't bad enough, the attacks and harangs on public schools and public school teachers continue.
In July a march on Washington will put thousands of educators in the street. A brief time in the sun. Hopefully the comparison between the fight for civil rights and the fight for teacher's rights will follow.
My hope for the summer is that millions more will join in the battle raging. A new civil war awaits.
I wrote this poem with that in mind.

A Civil War Address

Dark time, delicate days, for the teacher
Too much remains locked inside the school
Not the task that tortures or tempts the child.
But the top down weight called reform
That slithers with co-opted force
Making hostages of time and skill

We hone this craft, this subtle skill
Where intuition serves the natural-born teacher
To motivate with success,
Alone at very public school
Bloodied by philanthropists
Eager to please some inner child.

But real children, like rivers, break
They languish yet still survive,

Today I learned of a teacher
Who changed plans mid-stream
Abandoned test prep and invited her class to watch snow fall,
Making their own stories with better outcomes,
The unpredictable is what we remember.

Those who have taught decades do not surrender conscience,
Cannot function without morality,
It is the youngest of our number who must
Inspire, masking fear, innovate, wearing cloaks

If only a day in the life could force
Time through the eyes of a child
Out of office, into a school,
Use our names,
Talk to us about your own dilemmas,
Hear the ideas we punctuate with music, motion, and mystery

Measurable chunks of information mean nothing,
Concepts change the world,
A proctor, a score, a percentile,
Spell only fear

We have another vision; a community school
Based on research and welcome reform
Where we privilege learning and critical skill
A change equal in force
Adult and child
Both teachers

We see that school
Shaping reform
A fountain of skill

Of the teacher
By the teacher

For the teacher.

Shall not perish.

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