I wrote this poem eleven years ago. I return to it today and just want to weep. What are we doing to our children? Who will save them? Who will carry the torch of knowledge for the next generation and for the generation behind us?
No one to close the windows
when the rain storm pellets their beds.
No one to lock the doors at night
and keep intruders from walking in.
No one to warm up dinner and
feed their craving little bodies.
No one to scare away the dragons
who star in their dreams at night.
The children are
thrown away –
labeled incorrigible –
beyond our abilities to help.
The achievement gap widens.
The terrain becomes more barren.
The house falls into further decay.
The green in the landscape
When will no child be left behind?
Then, I came across this beautiful hand drawing today and it gave me new hope. This is drawn by a 15 year old girl from the Philippines and brings hope for change. Let it start here in our own country and in our own hearts.
1. Children are loved and walk around the school with smiles on their faces.
2. Teachers are respected and stay in their jobs for a long time.
3. Parents are welcome in the school and are made to feel an integral part of the culture of the school. 4. The culture and history of the community the school is located is honored in displays and in what is taught in classes.
5. Arts, physical education, recess and sports are NEVER sacrificed for higher test scores.
6. ELL and Special Needs students are treated with respect and are given the counseling and special attention they need to thrive.
7. Students have such a positive experience at the school that they return on a regular basis after they have graduated.
If you think that these features are only found in private schools or schools in affluent middle schools, you need to visit the CASA Middle School in the Bronx where Jamaal Bowman is the principal.
This is not only something that CAN be done in all communities, it is something that MUST be done so that ALL our children can grow up with confidence in their abilities.
And Poetic Justice would add to the list the following: 8. All children will be encouraged to find and use their voices in academic subjects and particularly in creative writing and POETRY classes.
Sometimes, I really have to remember why I am teaching. This morning I read through some of my old poems, just to get some hope and inspiration. I found this one that I wrote six years ago as I watched 21 young people receive their high school diplomas. I am in this teaching gig for the miracles – the miracles that occur when I am a very small part of transforming a young life.
Our kids are so much more than a test score.
I hope you like this one. If you are a teacher, I thank you for all you do for your students. Keep – keeping on. Don’t give up. Fight on for a better day for our children and grandchildren.
Priceless is the smile
on her face –
she who was abused
violated at only four years old.
Priceless is the smile on his face – he who was ridiculed demeaned called filthy names by his friends.
Priceless is the smile on their faces – they who were once labeled incorrigible a threat to the classroom those kids who will never learn.
Priceless is the smile on each face – as they sit in cap and gown with their senior class and receive their high school diploma.
Who could ever put a price tag on even one of their miracles?
And – one more little inspiration for you all today – Don’t Give Up from Peter Gabriel.
A free and quality education is a civil and human right that is being obliterated by the political and corporate take over by such men as Bill Gates and such corporations as Pearson – all led by politicians and their deadly No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, SBAC, PARCC, and Common Core.
This poem is written in honor of the brave teachers standing up for children and fighting for quality public education in America.
Long live the misfit and the outcast
the forgotten and the abused
the diamond in the midst of this messy morass.
the truth tellers
the wisdom weavers
the bringers of peace and happy healing.
the free thinkers and non-conformists
the mindful and deliberate
the conscious and the definitive.
the true teachers
those who guide by the side
who take a moment and make it forever.
the bleeding heart educators of America
those who care with their hearts and their minds
those who will never give up
those who will never shut up
those who will never abandon the dream that
they can touch a life forever!