Driving home I have to pass through a county park that has a lot of running trails. As I was driving, I saw a bunch of girls running along the street. "Oh!" I thought. "That looks like Kay'sha!" And then I saw another girl who I recognized.
So, quick as a wink, I pulled over and cheered them on. They were the girls' cross country team from my school, out for a run before it gets too hot!
My girls. The other ones. The ones who don't live in my house.
Kay'sha was out in front. She's the best runner on the team. Last year her brother was shot and killed in a drive-by. Crystal, who stopped briefly to say hello to me, has a sister who is battling lupus with inadequate and indifferent health care.
Last spring, Clarissa had a baby and fell short on the high school proficiency test. We all thought she would pass. She cried. Today she was out running with the rest.
The world is arrayed against these young women. As I prepare for a new school year, in which I will be teaching to a national proficiency test that I have not yet seen, I think about all the
The new high school proficiency tests are being designed by college professors, based on the skills these professors think are lacking in students who get high school diplomas. My students start lacking skills the minute they walk in the door in kindergarten. They never catch up. In the case of the Vo-Tech, my girls are learning trades like nursing assistance and medical record keeping -- making them employable right out of high school, so long as they get their diplomas and pass proficiency tests in their trades. Yes, you are reading right. My students, all of them, have to take two tests: one for academic high school, another for the trade they've studied.
I would feel more zealous about the new, tougher high school standards if I hadn't been in a group this summer that toured businesses and industries in my area. It is still possible to get an entry-level job with a high school diploma (good attendance, no tattoos) where one can learn the skills necessary for the business in-house and move up through the ranks. My students have done this at the fancy grocery stores too. Even at Home Depot. But they all needed that high school diploma.
This is so blatantly unfair, it makes me want to weep. We expect our most disadvantaged students to be bright enough to compete not with China's worst (Flower Lace Bra; see below), but with China's best. You know what happens in the inner city schools? Kids turn 16 and drop out. "I wouldn't pass the proficiency test anyway," they say.
Stop this madness! Find a way to educate and train all children, without trying to fit them all into a single mold! Does my auto mechanic need to have read Ovid?
I'm repeating myself. Guilty as charged. It just fills my heart with ache to see my girls out running in the park. What is waiting for them at the finish line?