1) Every child deserves a great teacher.
2) Every child deserves opportunity regardless of zip code.
3) Every child can achieve…
But does “great teacher” have a cookie-cutter definition, or does every child deserve teachers that have the desire, training, know-how and support to meet varied individual needs?
Does every child deserve to get the same great opportunities within their zip code, or are opportunists looking to give potential customers that fit a particular mold an escape hatch to a different zip code? Once “poverty is not an excuse” became kind of beat up by the facts (regarding the economic and social realities tied to geography and impacting the community school’s stats) it became clear that some “reformers” looked more to segregate peer groups and pull them away for efficiency than to truly improve the situation for “every child”.
And what exactly do we call achievement?
Sorry about starting a sentence with “And”-a cardinal writing sin, I know, but: A) Count your blessings I’m trying to be less gross and profane (my default setting usually) ; B) I rarely stand on formalities like that; and B) Users of that “every child” sentence starter have committed ongoing sins of sloganizing. Using “hopey-changey” words to “cut and run” while seeming to wag the finger of shame at schools, teachers, unions and what has also been called the “status quo”. So many slogans and so little time to dissect. Certainly no room to question it, and who would dare? Of course any child can achieve, but if schools are to be labeled, and educators evaluated legitimately on something we’re calling “achievement” (the realization of goals), there should be some agreement on and collaboration in the ways and means of making achievement happen and what goals should be prioritized.
We can start by saying each child instead of every-making the best first-step by acknowledging that people are individuals and there is no “every” because all of these young learners come to school with a wide variety of priorities of their own, and just as wide a variety of needs and challenges. Our endeavor and obligation is to maximize potential and empower future individual citizens to pursue their dreams, not someone else’s standards for acceptability.
We can continue by ignoring the most destructive voices, opinions and approaches presented as if they are either bold or visionary. Vacancies in brains and hearts reveal themselves in the spitting and sputtering vehemence with which one refers to those who do a job he never could and in the way another explains away her unwillingness to carry the truly heavy weight of serving the neediest and most challenging students.
Worse though, are the carrion eaters who flock to the defense of such false prophets and their ignorance hoping to fatten themselves on the kills. Worse than simple boot-lickers: they are self-important opportunists looking for the perpetual benefit of nepotists and revolving doors that sweep the lazy from one lucrative failure to the next.
Roll up them sleeves, jokers. Get into the classroom, help, learn. Each child deserves an opportunity, not your opportunity.