Saturday, April 10, 2010

Finished!: In the Words of My Students

Students talk. They talk a lot to the art teacher. And, well, to be honest, probably to any teacher who has a good ear; kids need lots of support. In this current educational crisis climate it seems like there is more dire news about the state of education in Georgia everyday. And, I do have strong views -just like everyone else- on the topic. But the funniest part out of all of these articles is that the NEVER put a human face on the students. The never ask students what they think of the situation, how they feel, what is going on in their lives.

For example, there is a lot to say about upping class sizes to maximum capacity (which would be 45 students in some cases I believe), but has anyone asked the students what they think? There is this false presumption that students don't care, or that the are not worth being asked because they are children. But, often, children have a more accurate ethical, moral, and fair compass than many adults I know.

I make pieces like this quite often. People forget that education is about STUDENTS. I get stressed, frustrated, I rail against bureaucracy, but I don't want to let go of the humanity of my job.

When I worked in Clayton county a very active 6th grader found me on a Monday morning during his free breakfast time. That time, was one of the only two times a day (not just at school) that this particular student was guaranteed to eat. He looked ashen and pale. His coat was strung over his arm. As he approached I asked him what was going on. He pulled back the coat to expose his arm, hanging at an extremely unnatural angle, tied up in a dirty kerchief. I asked him when it happened thinking maybe it happened on the bus. He told that he and his cousin had been wrestling on Friday night and that it happened then. He had not been to a doctor or received any care. I immediately got in touch with the counselor (which was my school's procedure for such situations). The counselor called the boy's mother to get him. I would like to point out that the mother is the last person I would've called since he hadn't gotten the boy help for 48 hours already. But the counselor was reluctant to do anything else because she didn't want the mother to get in trouble. She made some comment that I didn't understand and that the mother needed another chance. You know, I don't and didn't understand. But, I did know that the boy needed to be at the emergency room. He didn't show up at school the next day and I was afraid to call because I had called to inquire about a student once, and that student's drunk mother beat her as result. I should have called. The student showed back at school the next day -WEDNESDAY- with the arm still in the sling and still broken. I didn't follow my school's procedure. I called DFACs that minute, explained the situation, explained that I was breaking procedure. I told the student to follow his normal schedule and that help was on the way. The relief in his eyes was painful. DFACs came an removed him from the school later that morning and got him immediate aid.

I think the people setting forth the education policies in this state are so far out of touch with the students, that they couldn't make a right choice -or an educated one- to save their lives.

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