Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Long Arc of Justice

"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
Martin Luther King Jr.

I teach at an extraordinary school.

I have supplies, access to a copy machine, small classes, dedicated co-workers and supportive administrators who make decisions in the best interest of children.

My first year teaching in this city I had 135 kids, one ream of paper per week, no text books, administrators who made me cry and a torn poster in the faculty room that said, "Kids are first." No one believed it.

So at a staff meeting today, our principal shared that the school system has not honored her request for adequate staffing in the upcoming school year and her only alternative is to close the school.

But I teach at a school where people don't hang their heads.
My principal does not wait for the scraps bureaucracy may throw her way.
So we will fight. Write letters. Talk to the press. Share why this school is important.

Part of me says, but we are so lucky. I'm responsible for 15 kids. I work in a beautiful building. We have so much more than the other schools.

My principal's response, The question is not why we have more, the question is why don't all kids have this? This is a justice issue.

The bar has been set so low of what our kids deserve.
You are not thankful for a copy machine. You expect it.
You are not grateful for supplies. You have them.
Shouldn't all kids be able to go to school in a clean building?

This is a segregated school system where teachers are not given what they need to teach and despite the logos, kids come after politics and bottom lines. While all schools are measured on the same academic standards, we're not all given the same economic advantages.

I am glad for this fight
it is good to remember that the world is bigger than my classroom
it is good to rethink my own expectations
it is good to stand up for something that is right


Anonymous kathleen said...

damn emily...
i am sitting here crying now.
we are so lucky ...and i have always said that.
i never thought about the fact that it is what we deserve.
teachers in m- county never say they are lucky.

i am so fortunate to work with people like you.

i think we have our letter right here.
well done comrade.

7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh no! It's so, so sad to think of your amazing school closing. It just can't happen. I'm glad you have the spirit to fight it and I also think you should submit this blog entry to the paper or the school board or someone.
Lots of luck in that fight!

7:16 PM  
Anonymous kathleen said...

everytime i get online, i come back to this post.
i am so fired up.

you are so on the money (no pun intended)
when you wrote:
"while all schools are measured on the same academic standards, we're not all given the same economic advantages."

what our school has, though, is teachers, parents, and students who will shout out to uncover the wrong that has evolved into something that is somehow accepted.

this is big.

11:55 PM  
Anonymous KMS said...

I love thinking about this post. I think while I was teaching at Booker T., I did accept less and less. Instead, I should have been demanding more and more. My people pleasing personality was certainly abused and used. I am grateful for this reflection time in graduate school and anxious to take my reflections back into the fray.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

one single spark can set the praire into a fire

5:52 PM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

i know THAT'S right, anonymous!

8:27 PM  

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