I was unable to attend the SOS March. I am not proud of this. I refuse to spout excuses, and hold myself fully responsible.
Yet, even from my computer screen, following the march obsessively on Saturday using Twitter and Facebook, I felt the solidarity and unbending determination of citizens such as myself who refuse to accept this outright assault on the children of the USA. NOTHING will prevent me from marching next summer, and I'll come with my entourage of Bronx Teacher Yentas wearing flashy red spaghetti-strap tank tops.
When I read that the president would not take 10 minutes of his time on Saturday to step out onto his front lawn and communicate with, or even acknowledge the thousands of people who were exercising their right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly in defense of our nation's public schools, my stomach dropped. His hypocrisy burned me.
At election time, I understood that this man did not come from a past privileged with material things, raised by a single mom, and his grandparents. He was different from the white, rich, power-hungry presidents that preceded him. At the time, I was a single mom, and through my own child, I identified with him as a human being. I hung on to every word of each campaign speech, especially those about education. My eyes filled with tears when he promised:
"I will listen to you... I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation... Block by block, brick by brick, callused hand by callused hand."
The day after he was elected, we (my dear friend and literacy coach was joining us, we had co-taught this class politics-based ELA lessons for a month before the elections, ironically creating multiple-choice questions on articles about the ineffectiveness NCLB) purchased plastic champagne flutes and some Martinelli's (alcohol-free) bubbly and toasted his victory with my 34 6th graders. Our eyes shone with hope, silently saying:
"Finally, a president who will help us. Who will understand OUR plight. Who will listen to the concerns of the poor, the parents, the teachers, the middle class, the laborers, the soldiers who risk their lives, those working 60 hours a week with calloused hands, those with heavy loads upon their backs and their minds. There is light at the end of this sad, dark tunnel. We have HOPE."
Well, as he has proven on Saturday, he is not listening. His hands, have they ever seen a callous? Has he lifted even one lousy brick? What, exactly, has he re-built? Nothing. Instead, he has taken the power away from the backbone of this country: the public sector. He has placed our children’s' futures in the hands of selfish, ignorant, rich businessmen. A well-rounded education is only good enough for his daughters and the kids of his millionaire and billionaire cronies.
Mr. Obama, what has become of you? I think it's time to revisit your childhood. And your victory speech.
While you're at it, grab a copy of the multiple choice section of the NYS ELA exam, time yourself for 60 minutes, grab a #2 pencil, and start reading those mind-numbing, emotionally-void texts and start filling in those bubbles. Tell me you did not come across at least ten questions that were there just to trick a middle-schooler. Tell me your brain didn't feel like it was just squeezed through a pasta-maker. Then, tell me that a child's worth as a student and a teacher's worth as an educator should be based on that test.
Then, give the test to Milea. She might throw it back at you and say, "DAD, this is stupid and boring and confusing."
THEN, rethink the TRILLIONS of taxpayers' hard-earned dollars, many earned by minimum wage employees with calloused hands that YOU (and Arne) SPENT on high-stakes tests, data collection, and test prep materials. And don't give me any bullshit that you are "changing these tests". Standardized tests used to evaluate students and teachers can be dressed up in any pretty format you like, it's still completely inequitable until you address the problem of poverty.
I am crestfallen by your deceit and outright hypocrisy. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.