Remedies for the Classroom

Filed in Delaware, National by on November 18, 2015

If you have an interest in or care about public education in our country and do not regularly read Diane Ravitch’s blog I strongly recommend that you start now. I’m sharing a post she put up today because with WEIC releasing their interim transition plan for the city of Wilmington students and schools for public comment yesterday this particular blog post seems appropriate to me. Often times when discussing education in Delaware, the conversation quickly turns to funding and resources which evokes a bristly response from residents and tax payers. We spend a LOT of money on our schools yet stories like the one Diane shared are every day occurrences up and down Delaware and across the country.  If we’re spending all this money and the appearance of stories like this have kept up their frequency, we’ve got to do something(s) better. One line cliches like “trim the fat!” or “fire fat cat administrators” or “Something something Unions!” don’t provide any assistance in figuring out what we need to be doing better. Often the difficulties in classrooms have their origins outside the school building’s walls. Our teachers can instantly attest to the accuracy of that, just ask them.

So what do we need to do to put a stop to stories like this once and for all and how do we do it?

From Diane Ravitch: Bret Wooten, Dark Secrets of the Classroom

Bret Wooten, a businessman in a small town in Texas, was puzzled about why his wife, a second grade teacher, spent so much money on her students. At tax time, he reminded her that the purpose of working was to make money, not to rack up expenses that were not tax-deductible.

She invited him to visit her classroom. And he did.

“When I came by that next afternoon, I found myself surrounded by the children doing projects and I jumped right in. I dropped by the school as often as I could, so the children were used to me at this point. But one young man always kept his distance. After the kids had gone, I asked Michelle why. She then revealed her dark secrets, the histories of the children in her classroom.

“These kids endured everything from true poverty to sexual abuse. Her list of questionable deductions started to make sense: granola bars, orange juice, cereal, milk, jackets, band aids and endless school supplies.

“The young man that would not approach me? She told me about him last. He had endured the worst. All the men in his life injured this child in ways that still bring tears to my eyes and a rage in my soul.

“Then she said: “He needs shoes.”

“The only thing I could mutter was: “What size?”

“These days we think we will find the answer to so many questions within the pages of a book or the folds of a standardized test, but this is the reality of many children in America. I wish stories like this were on the news or touted by politicians.

“Unfortunately, acts of kindness are far too common in education and thereby deemed unnewsworthy. If these stories were aired, maybe we could actually solve some problems instead of just pointing them out.”

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About the Author ()

A dad, husband, and public education supporter. Small tent progressive/liberal. Christina School District Citizen's Budget Oversight Committee member, who knows a bit about a lot when it comes to the convoluted mess that is education funding in the State of Delaware.

Comments (3)

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  1. Prop Joe says:

    Thanks for sharing, Brian… Incredible stuff. It would be wonderful if legislators, DOE, hell, maybe even the Governator, would get out of their comfortable chairs and venture into Stubbs, Warner, Bayard, etc. and talk directly to those teachers and administrators about the very things which are addressed in Ravitch/Wooten piece above. The things Wooten’s wife deals with in her classroom are the very same which educators in our city schools are dealing with…

  2. Steve Newton says:

    Teachers in our city schools wash kids’ clothes on a daily basis. They feed them breakfast and lunch and send them home over the weekends with backpacks full of food from the Food Bank of Delaware. They hug them. They make their classrooms into safe spaces for the children of abuse, poverty, street violence, and broken families. And because these battered children cannot close the gaps of their extreme wounds fast enough to satisfy the corporate education reformers …

    … our teachers are failures.

  3. MikeM2784 says:

    While most concentrated in the city, it is not limited to there, either. Heavy concentrations of similar problems in other districts…usually “failing” ones like Seaford.