The Schools Our Communities Deserve

After a long day at school, I make my way to a local middle school where our district superintendent approved a co-location (more than one school shares one school site) without consulting with the school community. This new "pilot school" has financial backing from Green Dot, and will serve a select group of 6-12 graders (read "local white students") taking space on an already successful middle school campus and competing for the same students.

Needless to say, the local parents, teachers, and community are enraged, but the district really doesn't care. Unfortunately, this has become the norm. This is how large district administrators "deal" with their schools. Decisions are made and changes occur. Deal with it. Here is a charter school and you need to share your school site. Work it out. Here are the Common Core Standards and this is how you will be evaluated and evaluate. Make it work. We are closing your school. Deal with it. It's a tough time to serve in our public schools.

But despite the mess coming from district leadership and the ed deform movement attacking public education and its teachers at the district, state, and federal levels, good things continue to happen. Students read and perform Midsummer Night's Dream. They write essays about Fredrick Douglass' thinking about slavery and the complexities of pluralism. They debate the historical legacy of President Andrew Jackson: hero or villain and that's just in the last few weeks at my school. 

I continue to work for the public schools our communities deserve alongside teachers, our union, and parents who are committed to do the same. But we are up against a well-funded enemy (The Gates Foundation, The Waltons of Walmart) and it requires some digging to understand what is really happening in public education today.

If you want to support your local schools, here are a couple of resources you might want to check out. And the one thing I ask that you do, is don't believe the hype. Schools haven't changed as much as people would like to say they have (for good or bad) but if they are going to continue to exist, we need your help. We need everyone's help.

American Education professor Diane Ravitch's blog provides great links and analysis of ed policy teachers and their impact on our schools, teachers, students, and their families.

The Network for Public Education advocates for a strong public education system because it is essential to democracy.


Running from the Dark

Tonight I go for a run. Even though it’s already dark. Even though I’m tired. I have to.

The dark started seeping in around the holidays. Now it’s February. It’s been a few months. It hasn’t been persistent, but it has been enough for me to notice.

So I change my clothes, and after the baby is safely to bed, I lace up my shoes and head out into the night.

I’ve been running from the dark since I was a kid. I told my mom, “Why do I always have to be the happy one? Maybe sometimes I’m just not happy.”

I’ve been running from the dark ever since the summer when my brother didn’t sleep. He started hearing voices and talked too fast and ended up in the hospital.

I’ve been running from the dark ever since the winter my sister didn’t sleep. She started hearing voices and talked too fast and ended up in the hospital.

They both made it. They made their way out of the dark. I’m still running.

I’m about a mile in. It’s a cool night and the first half of this run is uphill. The second half will be easier.

In college, the dark seeped in with the rain. It was the rainiest year on record in the Pacific Northwest. I blamed the rain. So, after college I moved to Los Angeles. I thought the sunshine might help. But the monotony of blue skies got to me. I started to see a therapist and I kept running.

I’m halfway through my run, but I’m behind. I need to pick up the pace. It’s getting late.

After my daughter was born I paid very close attention to the darkness. I wasn’t sleeping. I worried about the whole post-partum bit. I could see the darkness around the edges, when the exhaustion felt like too much and when I was up alone in the middle of night. I kept moving though, and as soon as I could, I started to run.

It’s mostly downhill for this last half-mile. The palm trees are silhouettes against the night sky. The moon is hidden behind the clouds.

When I tore my Achilles tendon, I couldn’t walk or run for months. That’s how I know things are bad because it’s darker now then it was a year ago. Nothing has changed except how I feel, and I can run again.

I stop at a light, a few blocks from home. In just a few seconds, I’ll be home. When I get there the lights will be on and I'll head inside where it’s bright.