The Face of Education

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Shortly before school started a facebook thread began a campaign against “stuff the bus”.  Really?!  If you are not familiar, a “stuff the bus” campaign is a group trying to gather supplies (food, school, etc) for various organizations or needy families.  Putting a stop to people helping others out in a time of need?  This is bad how?

The faces entering my classroom each day are aging faster than their years.  A student sleeping on a living room couch while a family member, who works 2nd shift, stays up and watches tv all night.  Sleep comes and goes with sound and flashing light.  Her other option for sleeping?  A trailer out back.  Another who is couch hopping because mom lost her job and unfortunately they are not even living under the same roof.  The boy who detassled corn all summer to save up for a laptop, but then dad’s position was cut and that hard-earned money is now paying the bills.  At least for 2 more months.  The tear jerker?  A student trying to jump-start his college career before graduating took classes at a local college.  Upon arriving home after the summer away, he found that a family member sold or gave away his “life” (books, movies, clothes, personal art pieces).  And this is just a sampling of what is going on in classrooms.   Good kids.   Each one I would bring home tomorrow.  Every day the doors open for their education time.  However, their current learning is real life, learned the hard way.

Welfare, unemployment, disability is not something these teenagers invited into their lives.  Yes schools provide daily essentials; books, paper, pencils, etc.  What about coats, backpacks, or even shoes?  Kids, no matter what the age, deserve to enter school with basic fundamental items.  These items matter, just like a pencil or a piece of paper.  Wearing last year’s shoes that have been “repaired” with duct tape impacts one’s self-worth, self-confidence, and academic determination.

Free and appropriate education is guaranteed to all.  What is not included?  Fundamental rights to basic necessities that also impact education.  A steady roof.  A warm coat.  Meals on weekends.

Criticize education all you want.  But until you come and stand in my teacher shoes, you will not know the importance of “stuff the bus” or the needs of our current population.

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6 responses »

  1. Very well said Julie, working in international schools takes the sting out of dealing with this kind of thing on a daily basis, but we work hard to make sure our learners understand the necessity of supporting others who are not in their shoes. It is sad that not all members of our communities support helping others. This was one reason why I got involved with the Learning to Give program when working in Michigan – it writes curriculum connected to teaching philanthropy to kids through their daily curriculum. The main focus was that communities were forgetting to help their own and to find a way to teach that supporting others is a skill we also need to teach. Here is the link to their website: http://www.learningtogive.org/ They are always looking for motivated teachers to bring their approach to their schools and communities, as well as to write curriculum that meets the needs of all types of learners.

  2. THIS IS OUTSTANDING. THANKS SO MUCH & I CAN ONLY PRAY YOU WILL GET THROUGH TO MANY. MY WORKING WITH KIDS HOPE HAS CERTAINLY GIVEN ME A GLIMPSE OF WHAT IT MEANS TO LIVE THE WAY SO MANY OF OUR CHILDREN LIVE. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

    CHIC

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