Lovely bulletin boards, PTA fundraisers, and singing kids at assemblies aside: let us not be fooled…shit-showness is always present to one degree or another.
I support public education. Yes. I. DO. But the problems that schools have are the same problems that the country has. So unless America is going away, public schools can’t go away. My main hope for improving schools is to reduce the most nonsensical, counterintuitive, and dangerous conditions students face…and that families have to tolerate when they don’t have other options. The White smart kids are fine in the current system, so my rallying cry focuses on meeting the needs of the disabled, the emotionally wounded, the poor, and non-native English speakers…in other words, more than half of the nation’s children.
I urge everyone – even those inside the system – to find the I-won’t-tolerate-this-anymore tipping point. We must hone our Woodward and Bernstein investigative skills and look deeply into the root causes of problems at schools. Because excepting our current president, most people’s psychological — and by extension their efforts and deeds – compels them to present their best side, to showcase the most successful accomplishments, and to hide mistakes, systematically…relentlessly. I was so proud of San Rafael City Schools when they outed themselves as accidental racists, but racists nonetheless, and publicly vowed to start meeting the needs of their non-white students.
A Ridiculous, Sad, True Story: At my elementary school there was a place on the upper playground dubbed the “pussy bushes”. Roving gangs of boys threatened stationary gangs of girls with a trip there as a way to feel powerful (as a way to act out the trauma they had sustained though they didn’t know that was the reason), and to give themselves something to plot, plan and feel excited about since they weren’t excited by a curriculum that wasn’t designed with their needs in mind. I was not part of a gang of girls since the gangs were based on race and being a mixed-girl I was relegated to the edge. For most of 2nd and part of 3rd grade, I was routinely dragged to the “pussy bushes” and sexually tormented. The yard teacher knew what was going on, as I explained the situation while she was expelling me from the refuge of the girls’ bathroom, my recess home-away-from-home. She brushed it off as “boys will be boys”. However, she was White and the boys were Black, and in retrospect the root cause was Berkeley’s over-correction leading to a massive denial of reality. And guess what – this type of thing is still happening. We have to stop it.