The Kids Sitting in the Education Reform Cheap Seats

With Michelle Moore

A Tale of Two Schools

I’ll be returning to the highest poverty school in Spokane in less than a week. Highest Homeless. Highest Refugee. Highest ESL.
Please. Please. Grit is not the answer.

Please, let these children experience art, music, movement, projects, building, exploration, curiosity, fun … DAILY … Not push push push … Not test test test … Not sit sit sit … Not listen listen listen …

– Raschelle Holland

I know this lady … and teachers like her. I know her soul. And now you know about the hole in her heart.

So this exquisite woman must walk out of that Twilight Zone school … and into a completely different dimension … one occupied by her very own son.

I toured my son’s remodeled public school … It’s gorgeous … art every week in a beautiful art room … science every week in a beautiful science room … [few] qualify for free and reduced lunch. Test scores are high. It’s considered an “A” rated school by OSPI in Olympia.

And she’s torn that her son is so advantaged  … and the “other’ children … back in the cheap seats … are not.

But she’s not to blame.

That belongs to some far away big-shots who don’t care about her reality. People who don’t give a damn about the kids in the cheap seats. They can’t care … because they don’t know how.

The federal government has finally admitted what we all knew … that this dreadful reform is a multi-billion dollar ruse. Actually … seven billion dollars worth of ruse.

It was a reform that was never real. Never genuine. Just a wordy gimmick that wasted money …  lots and lots of money that could’ve saved the kids in the cheap seats.

Just a concoction of cellophaned premises and orphaned promises gilded in educratic junk-speak. Lies actually. Piled high … year after year.

A reform farce championed by rich cultural-tinkerers and frauds at the Department of Education who wasted billions … and never bothered with the kids in the cheap seats.

Seven billion dollars that should have fixed Raschelle Holland’s school … and spackled that hole in her heart. Big bucks that could’ve given kids better seats … and better futures.

Instead … it been a decade-long mess.

It was too timid and spineless … and insincere. Never facing up to racial and  economic realities. Never fixing what needed to be fixed.

The building I’ll walk into has 94% of children qualifying for FREE lunch … The students I work with … Will not have art consistently each week … Or science. Rather they go to a class on “Grit” and learning to push through and try harder.

Yeah. Buck up! You shirking 8 and 9 year olds!

Grit … that’s a helluva reform. Unmask the genius who imagined that a good idea. Give his kid a cheap seat … and see if the child blossoms on a steady diet of grit.

The most struggling schools are almost always found in inner city circumstances … and they are overwhelmingly schools of color … and disadvantage.

But reformers ignored that … ’cause that would require speaking some hard, racial truths … and the race card would surely show up somewhere. And you shouldn’t ever shake that tree. No, no, no. That would cause discomfort.

But what about the discomfort of those kids in the cheap seats? Weren’t they worth it?

Apparently not.

So, the reformers whimped. And took the easy way out.

The scores in my school will remain low … And reform curriculums will keep coming … to ‘cure’ the academic achievement gap … And it won’t be cured. In fact, it continues to widen.

And so will the hole in Raschelle Holland’s heart.

Here’s the sick irony.

These reforms were applied across the board. To every single school. In a grand display of meaningless equality. A one-size-fits-all reform extravaganza.

And it didn’t much matter if a school was successful or not. Everyone was gonna sip the same scholastic hemlock … even if it poisoned good schools and made bad schools worse.

It was government idiocy in search of perfect equality … and it screwed everyone. Equally.

But … it didn’t have to be this way. And this teacher shouldn’t have wind whistling through her heart. And those kids shouldn’t be glued to those cheap seats.

This is a mess that cannot be unmessed. It’s time to begin again … and time to get it right.

Everyone knew certain schools were short-changed … poisoned by self-absorbed politicians and callous unionists. But instead of a cure … we got a $7 billion travesty. And some grit.

Raschelle Holland? She just holds on to her heart.

h/t Lala Burger

Cross-post.

2 thoughts on “The Kids Sitting in the Education Reform Cheap Seats

  1. I agree about the waste of money on faddish reforms (instill “grit”) and political grandstanding. As the only non-black teacher in a black high school in Mississippi in 1968, I witnessed our disparity in resources. As a principal in a district that went $34 million in the hole in 2002, I had to deal with the disparities that wiped any “frills.”

    I could list those disparities with specific needs attached. What I don’t see in this article are specifics. Until I see the author offer what is needed over what is given, this article is designed simply to make people mad. Give some details and what the school would do with them. Help them to galvanize their efforts to bring needed change to the school.

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