i read this last night about mrs. puglisi’s 100 national standards. like many other things, it inspired me to go out and be the best darn teacher i can be.

and like always, the kids show up, and it’s back to normal routines. *sigh*

i’m a big failure at this. i always read something or attend a workshop and get all riled up and think, “YES.” i’m going to go and make a difference! i’m going to DO this! i’m going to make changes and everything will be all dandy! of course, it never is.

while reading her post, i couldn’t help but think, wow. how nice that would be. my one year of hell had me working with a bunch of people who had never, ever even set foot on the west side. they didn’t realize how –seriously– easy their jobs were, compared to those that were out on the west side. i mean, they did deal a lot more with parents, which is my big failing point. but with the kids? gosh. all those kids had everything. anything they asked for, they received. their parents were always there, supporting them every step of the way. they were loved, they were looked after (a bit too closely, in my opinion), they were encouraged to do their best, and they were hardly ever absent. there were hardly any discipline cases. there were hardly any meetings with the social workers because of many absences. there were hardly any students that came to school hungry or cold, from having to sleep in a tent on the beach. the kids came to school, studied hard, and did their work. they returned things the very next day. they even did extra work. they even participated in sports or lessons after school. they bought tons of books from book orders. they were attentive, obedient kids. again, aside from dealing with the helicopter parents, the actual job of teaching them was easy. yet those teachers often looked down on me. they couldn’t believe that anyone would want to come out here and teach. they thought i had it easier, because the kids “don’t know as much.” *sigh*

if all our kids were like that, then yes, it would be much easier. we would be having great test scores. we would be excelling in a lot of things. but honestly? all kids are NOT like that. a lot of our kids come with a LOT of baggage. i am brought to tears every time i hear a story of how much one of the students had to deal with in their short 5-6 years of life. yeah, they are behind. yeah, they don’t have many experiences. they don’t even travel to the central part of the island, much less another island or even the mainland. they don’t have their supplies. they come to school hungry–or mostly, they don’t come at all. they don’t have shoes. they sometimes wear the same clothes. they don’t even have anyone at home telling them how special they are, how much they are loved, how much they can make a difference.

i know that’s not an excuse for their low scores. but these things need to be taken into consideration. “no child left behind,” indeed. if so, give us the resources so that these kids are NOT left behind, instead of sanctioning us. make sure that they are loved, clothed, fed, and have mattresses for a good night’s sleep. make sure they are taken care of medically, mentally and physically. take away all the drama from their short lives. let them know they can succeed, rather than dash all their hopes when they see their school’s name in the paper under “NOT MET” and knowing that alas, they are again, “not good enough,” as many other people have already deemed them. take care of these problems and then see how well they do. how much they shine. how intelligent they are.

of course, it can’t be done. and we will continue to fall behind, and be punished for it, as others look down at us and scoff at our horrid teaching. so yes, let’s have a look at the 100 national standards in mrs. pugilisi’s opinion. let’s have people who care about helping, instead of being quick to criticize. let’s try and conquer the problems that make some kids not start off on the same playing field as some of the others. then you’ll see a nation of kids who are coming up, ready to handle anything given to them.

if not, then yes, do what you threaten to do–just fire all of us out here, and replace us with those from the well-to-do schools, from the private schools, from the schools that are passing, because after all, they ARE the better teachers. right? put them all out here and let them do their miracles that we lowly not-good-enough teachers couldn’t do. then we’ll all be good. right? wouldn’t it make sense that if they teach well in a good community, they would be just as good in a poverty-stricken community? right?

either way, the kids will win. and that’s all we want, anyway. right?



  1. Hello,
    I just followed a link on my blog to here. It’s funny when I wrote the 100 “standards” I just thought of kids that I’d worked with over a great many years as I waited for back surgery. You make valid points. When I first entered teaching OUTSIDE of my homestate, West Virginia look at “fairness” realizing that the kids I worked with in some tough situation in CA basically start with incredible things to “overcome” and not nearly enough supports to do so. The issue I had with NCLB was money seemed to go to consultancy, but very little addressed the issues any better that the standards are speaking about AND it narrowed schools so much in poverty areas to test prep it was a further triple whammy. At one point I heard Obama’s people propose putting the teachers from areas of affluence into poverty schools-but they’ll never do it and if they did they’d see very little difference ( except many would quit) the issues of working with kids with extreme societal problems requires super-people.
    What I noticed writing these was how ,many even in my “friends” that wouldn’t sign on to the page, the facebook group that another friend created surprising me. They’s sign on to almost anything but t his, suddenly very picky. I’ve been thinking a lot about that. Why not? I believe they think it would “cost” something to think like this=and it might. It would ask for a change in how we think…but…I have really come to admire Langston Hughes writing. In one of his autobiographies he talks about whether or not folks want to give up to get. Essentially I realize, who is motivated into change that isn’t at this bottom end because it’s “the right thing to do?” For that you would need an enormously empathetic world.
    I suppose when I started writing, contacting people, talking about schools I thought if people just knew about the plights of kids they could better think, address the issues. I guess that was pretty naive. Many walk by the homeless everyday blaming them for their issue, or stroll by the sick uninterested in their isolation, or basically well trained in the barriers to open hearts.
    In fact I guess I’ve learned way too much about that.
    Sometimes children give me hope.
    I read your post, thanks for the link. You seem a very thought provoking writer.

  2. Lia Said:

    Wow, thank you for your comment! I’m honored. I agree with what you wrote, especially the giving up to get. I know a few who have all sorts of opinions on how to change our schools, and especially what’s the problem with our schools, yet they don’t do anything about it, except belittle us. It’s frustrating. But I think it’s as you say–it’s like people walking by the homeless, ignoring the sick, etc. People have answers/comments, but no one sets it in motion. That’s difficult to change though. I mean, I’m doing that, too–just spouting off my thoughts, but not really setting anything into motion. I wonder what it would take to do that.

    Anyway, thanks again for visiting and for your comment. I appreciate the insight! Thank you for giving me something to think about. 🙂

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