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Saturday, April 14, 2007

What is your song?


A bird sings not because it has an answer.
It sings because it has a song.
-Chinese Proverb


I heard this proverb at the beginning of a seminar that I had already decided was a complete waste of my time. While our esteemed presenter shared numerous bits of wisdom about being passionately in love with your job, I was busy writing a list of all the things I'd done at work BEFORE I made it to the meeting. I got 9 things done in 45 minutes, and I resented having to leave my school to listen to someone tell me that I had better love my job or leave it. I thought, "Who does this guy think he is, really!" It was not his fault, no matter how charming he was, I wanted to be at my school.

Then he said something that I couldn't shake off of me no matter how stubborn and negative I was determined to be. He quoted the proverb that would haunt me to this hour. I always try to avoid this kind of intense self-reflection, but stuff like this sticks to me like rice on a serving spoon. Soon as he said it I thought, "NO! Don't do that! Don't make me second guess every decision I made from the minute I left my classroom. Don't force me to make a decision about why I'm singing". But, there was no going back, it started and since that moment I've been asking myself if I'm singing at all. What song is it? Am I dancing? Who is leading?

This is an insane segway into the political climate of our islands, but for me it is a crucial piece. Our government does not value education enough to protect it. There - I said it and I'm not taking it back. There is nothing that convinces me otherwise right now. Educators are a resilient bunch, always able to create from scratch what cannot be afforded to them. We are trained to survive. For so long, our leaders have relied on the resourcefulness of educators because we sing.

They take for granted that we sing.

I am an administrator and I have to make tough choices, this I am prepared to do. What I want to know is why our legislators, why our government, cannot do the same. Where is the ownership in what happens to our children and how it impacts their learning?

Who owns this song?

Does the PSS? The Board? Does the Governor? The legislature? Stand up and be men and women of integrity and forget that elections are around the corner. There will always be someone to pressure you, someone to con and bribe and intimidate and threaten and judge and blackmail you! But, they will be adults who should know better, not children who rely on you to protect their rights. Do the right thing by them next week when you meet to discuss how to save some money. Put the politicking aside and forget about one-upping each other with fancy-schmancy anecdotes and quips. Save that for the pocket meetings. It goes better with free food and beer.

In the next few weeks you will decide, because others who should refuse to, the course our educational system will take. Please remember one thing: the boys and girls in our public school system have worked so hard over the last decade to raise their level of academic proficiency and are now competing successfully with their private school counterparts. The children no longer walk into competitions with dread and uncertainty. They are champions, challengers, comrades and equal in ability and worth. We are proud to have been a part of bringing them to this point. Aren't you?

A bird sings not because it has an answer, but because it has a song.

What will be your song?




1 comment:

Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

Perhaps the biggest problem here is that elections truly aren't about anything. I tried to find differences in actually philosophy and ideas in the last election, and there was nothing. Lots of signs, lots of hand waving, no debate. The typical pss student election has more depth.

If teachers got together they could hold major sway on who got elected, but ACT can't get people to show up for a meeting or count ballots. In terms of taking a leadership role politically, I find my colleagues completely embarassing. SVES is the lone exception.