I ended my last post with a big question. Essentially, how do we move beyond public schools that merely accommodate students to creating just schools? I intended the question to be rhetorical when I posed it, but I was being lazy. Yes, it is a big question, but there is no reason I should be afraid of tackling it.
My husband works in an all-boys charter high school that predominantly serves young men of color. I openly admit that I have a hard time understanding the ways that he interacts his students. I started listening to a special podcast series on Ron Brown High School in Washington, DC in an effort to better understand the social and academic needs of the student population he serves. The three-part series, Raising Kings, was a collaboration between NPR and Education week that put two reporters in the school for its first year in operation. In addition to being an amazing listen and helping me understand my husband’s situation, Raising Kings helped me imagine new possibilities for a just education system.
One particular quote from the series broke my heart because, on my worst days, I agree with it and I really, really wish I didn’t.
We’re seeing goals socially and emotionally, and that’s great. But outside of these halls, no one cares. They only care about the scores. And they’re seeing these kids aren’t scoring, so the school is not working. – Matthew Lawerence, math teacher at Ron Brown High School
But outside of these walls, no one cares…*sigh*
I have never set foot in that school and I care. My family, colleagues, coworkers, and everyone I have ever had a face-to-face conversation about this with all care. But it is so easy to believe that no one cares when policy seems to define success exclusively by performance on standardized tests. We have an army of people who understand that education provides value beyond academics. So what’s going on? Why is policy not reflecting what communities believe?
…we still don’t agree as a society about what exactly a school is for. – Kavitha Cardoza, Education Week Correspondant for Raising Kings
Oh. OH. Before I can begin to think about what just schooling looks like, I need to know what I want from my schools. To be frank, I don’t entirely know. I am struggling with what I want from my own children’s school (which I’m fairly sure my next post will be about). I’ve been doing a lot of reading on what to expect from schools in an unjust society. Not fun, fluffy stuff. Nevertheless, I look forward to working out my thought process on these topics publicly through this blog!