Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Haves and Have-nots

There were two types of teachers seated at the large oak table this afternoon: The haves, and the have-nots.
The haves were the suburban teachers from various districts around the Greater Cleveland area. The have-nots hailed from the Cleveland Municipal School District.
The group was the Teacher Advisory Board of the Western Reserve Historical
Society, about 15 members, each representing a different school in the region that used to be known as the Western Reserve.
The question was: What is going on at your school that you would like to share with the group? The teachers represented every level of public and private education, kindergarten through high school.

The Cleveland teachers were the first to share.
Every teacher told similar tales of massive staff cuts, with layoffs still occurring, and more to follow next week after the ADM census data is in. More than 30 children in elementary classrooms, no money for basic supplies, no books, transportation cutbacks, and certainly no money for field trips.

When the suburban teachers reported on the programs at their schools, they began with confessed embarrassment. Exciting new programs, new equipment and software in the classrooms, (one teacher complained about a Smart Board being delivered to his classroom before he received any inservice on using it) and yes money was available for distance learning and field trips.
A stranger would think we were teaching in two different worlds.

I guess we are. Two different worlds, minutes away from each other.

How did this happen in a country founded on equal opportunity?

Each time I read the phrase "No Child Left Behind" and look upon the faces of my students, in my mind, I hear a mocking tone followed by the laugh of our political leaders. It has taken on the air of a mean-spirited taunt:

"No child left behind...psych!"
Followed by a sucker punch.


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