A place for educators to find thought-provoking news, conversation and support for those who care about diversity, equal opportunity and respect for differences in schools
“Jamilla may have to quit,” my friend Bob said. “She’s not the only one. This new ‘pay-to-play’ policy could wipe out two-thirds of my team.”
Bob was the girls’ soccer coach at our urban high school. For several years he had been growing his program. Finally, his girls were becoming competitive in their league.
Sarah had a strange way about her. She would focus so completely on whatever she was reading that she seemed oblivious to the world around her. However, when the volume in the room reached a certain level, she would burst out with a screaming plea at her classmates to be quiet. “I can’t take anymore of this noise,” she’d yell. At other times, she made loud exclamations to no one in particular. “My mom makes great cinnamon rolls,” she announced one day while unpacking her materials.
Most art projects are personal expressions by individual artists. But as an art teacher, it’s hard to beat a well-structured group project for helping students overcome differences and discover the power of creative teamwork.
It happened again today. I was standing in the cafeteria when I heard the dreaded sound of yelling, chairs scraping the floor and students scurrying for cover coming from the other side of the room. Food fight. Ugh.
I rushed over to find french fries, ketchup and peaches everywhere and students complaining about another destroyed lunch.
The school year is wrapping up, and most students won’t see the inside of a classroom for months. To kids, this means vacation, but to teachers it means lots of catch-up in the fall. According to a study by the John Hopkins’ Center for Summer Learning, without summer educational programs, the average student falls two months behind in his reading skills.
During spring break, I was reminded of what a huge impact a small decision can make.
I caught up on information about two former students: Richard and Patrick. They were quite similar when I had them as eighth-graders nearly four years ago. Both were over-age (16 years old) and received special education services. Both got into trouble regularly and were suspended multiple times. However, due mostly to a couple of seemingly small decisions, their lives changed in vastly different ways.
Each year, about 65,000 undocumented young people graduate from high school only to find a brick wall between themselves and thefuture. They are some of the 2 million or so children living in the United States without “papers.” In most cases, these young people were brought here by parents at an early age and, for any number of reasons, have not been able to obtain legal residency or citizenship.
As the school year draws to a close, the SPLC salutes just a few of the students this year who fought the good fight, challenging homophobia and gender discrimination in their schools. If it’s true that young people are our future, the future is looking pretty diverse, free and fabulous. We hope you are as inspired to read about them as we at the SPLC have been to work with them.