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'SO, DID THEY HAPPEN TO MENTION...?' (a poem)

- A Poem about 'Underperforming' Schools,
about Turning Around & Turning Out-

by Bill Schecter

They say that the tests scores are too low,

Did they mention my students are hungry?

that the school is underperforming and must be

Did they say many have no fathers at home.

"turned around," that all the teachers must be

that few parents will attend

turned out, fired, or reapply, though

Open School Night because of that

only some will be rehired. Administrators

second job, or no job, and that

who have long forgotten what a

our phone calls rarely get answered? Oh,

classroom looks like say we teachers

did the President happen to mention the drugs,

do not care enough (that I did not care),

the poverty, the gangs, the 25 students murdered

that we whine and make excuses, because

in Chicago this year? Did

we are in it only for the money,

someone perchance recall we didn't just stay

or that we are incompetent. Some

for a year or two to burnish our resumes for Wall

even call us racists and union hacks,

Street, but made a commitment to kids, to classrooms,

and so good riddance to bad rubbish. And

in fact pledged our lives to them, for whom we

they claim Charters can do a better job, without

stole time from our own families, long evenings,

bothersome unions and crazy pay scales,

grading, preparing, plotting that they too might hope,

that test prep can better proceed unimpeded, when all

dream, smile, eat, learn, whom we not only tested

members of the "team" are stuck on the same

but hugged, or provided a shoulder to cry

dreary page, paid piecemeal, per test score, to

on (as required) or loaned money to, or went over an

facilitate (what's called) "accountability," so that the

assignment -was it for the 5th time?- because of illness, or absence or

kids don't get sidetracked by music-art-drama-

language, or no textbook, or...or... or. Did

field trips-laughter or creative lessons

that phantom principal, office-dwelling total stranger,

that might take too long to think about, and

even know I was proud to be a teacher, that I gave

can even launch unintended flights of fancy,

my all, for 5-10-20-30 years, with no ambition

or burn up way too much time by

beyond these children, no desire to shuffle paper,

requiring actual real-life participation in

to hoard data, no desire to standardize souls,

ExperimentsdDebatesSimulationsDiscussions,

but only to help children grow, to enlarge spirits,

after all, there is serious business to be done,

stretch minds against all the odds

I mean the business of education,

never mentioned in polite company.

which the businessmen will show us

The bell has rung. School is out.

how to do. So, time now for the new team

We are out.

to get down to the grim

So, tell me,

task at hand.

what's in?

fremont3sm.jpg


Bill Schechter was born in New York City and was educated in its public schools. He later taught history for 35-years at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional H.S. in Massachusetts. Now retired, he remains active in the struggle to save public education from those who would privatize our schools, standardize education, destroy unions, and de-skill the teaching profession.

photo by Chuck Olynyk, of Fremont High in Los Angeles, "protected" from protesting teachers and students.

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