Friday, June 16, 2017

No Matter- a poem by Andrea

No Matter

In your neighborhood,
On the other side of town,
If you're a student of the street, 
If you've been K through college educated,
      you could be killed.

If you're doing something wrong,
If you've never been in trouble at all,
If you do not comply,
If you do as you are told,
     you could be killed.

If you have a weapon,
If you can show that you don't,
A drink in your hand,
A cellphone in your coat,
     you could be killed.

If you call for help,
If someone else does,
If, in fear, you run,
If you stay with hands raised,
     you could be killed.

If you're a citizen with a birthright,
If you're a visitor to this great land,
If you're enslaved by circumstances,
If you feel free enough to pursue the dream,
     you could be killed.

If you are a man,
If you are a woman,
If you are old,
Even if you are a child,
     you could be killed.

Especially, if you are black.

And some will 
whisper ifs to themselves,
or say out loud
No matter.  
It's your own fault
     you could be killed.
No one needs to pay.

No matter what some will say,
If you know and make it known,
       your body, your soul, your voice
do matter

One day
in this country
      you could live

-Andrea, a mother's vocal expression of confusion, fear, anger and pain
July 7, 2016

Thursday, January 5, 2017

On Free and Public Education for All

I went to private schools all my life until I came to the United States at age 16.  Not because my family was well off or belonged to an elite class, but because that was the only way to get a decent education.  My father worked three jobs and my mother made great sacrifices so we could pay that private school tuition.  Getting a spot at one of those private schools was not an easy matter either.  My father had to pull many strings to get us into the best schools we could afford.  Public education was for the poor and it was a poor and broken system.  That country is today the Islamic Republic of Iran, a country not known for progress, justice or preservation of human rights.

My children went to private schools all their lives, until they came to the United States.  My husband and I had to settle for what passed as education for them, all the while supplementing it at home with whatever we could.  Getting your child into a private institution was one of the nightmares many families dealt with.  Parents had to find a spot as soon as the child was born.  Public education was for the poor and it was a poor and broken system.  That country is today the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, a major oil producing country where hunger, poverty and crime is the reality of more and more of its people.

I consider the American Public School System a sacred institution.  Free and public education is what has made America the country that it is. Only in America do we open the doors of our schools to ALL children, of all colors, of all classes and of all abilities.  It is not an easy task, educating such a diverse population.  But we wouldn’t and shouldn’t have it any other way.  We declared our independence with these words:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Free and public schools make these promises into reality.

If we continue to callously pull the rug from under public schools by allowing vouchers and charter schools to take the much needed funds, if we continue to beat  down the hard working public school teachers that work well beyond their contracted hours for what is really a stipend and not a salary, if we continue to allow people that have no training or background in education, child development and learning theory to make school policies, we may end up with a public school system that is only for the poor and it will be a poor and broken system.