When she had an epileptic seizure during Science, I thought she was faking. She was coy, but always considerate. If my frustration ever showed, I’d return from lunch to find an apple on my desk and a sticky note scribbled with crayon. It was important that I acknowledge her, and she was more than pleased to be praised.

If she hadn’t been so poor they’d have thought her beautiful. She bragged about her IEP and said people gave her free stuff because of it. She’d stolen money from my purse once, and left an apology sticky with a sad face as the signature.

The pounding was horrifying and dramatic. They caught the desk just in time as she fell, her head hitting the floor with such ferocity that we winced in unison. The collapse, the writhing, the motionlessness– I was fixated, but unable to move.

The rest of the class was unfazed. Having attended grade school together, they instantly went to work. They knew where to hold her and what to hold still. They knew who to contact and where to find help. When it was over they comforted her, gently rubbed her back, gracefully re-positioned her, and finished their Science test.

EDUCATION CONVERSATION

We Need To Have A Conversation About Education.

We need to talk about student loans, WIOA, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), No Child Left Behind, and Common Core. We need to talk about the U.S. Department of Education, Sallie Mae, Navient, integration and inclusion, the school-to-prison pipeline, and Title IX.

We need to talk about disability education, transgender rights, discrimination, standardized testing, Teach for America, the National Education Policy Center, alternative certification programs, and special education.

We need to talk about school choice, charter schools, private schools, TEKS, the STAAR Test, the SAT, the ACT, the GED, IELTS, TOEFL, and scholarships.

We need to talk about programs for non-native speakers, ESL, and post-secondary education. We need to talk about community colleges, transfer credits, AP classes, “Gifted and Talented,” higher education policy, and funding for school sports.

We need to talk about football programs in Texas, education reform in New Orleans, school rankings, the history of the Ivy League, and the NCAA.

We need to talk about Division I, II, and III. We need to talk about There Are No Children Here, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, and The New Jim Crow. We need to talk about Pride and Prejudice.

We need to talk about social media, cyber-bullying, and 13 Reasons Why. We need to talk about open enrollment, online courses, University of the People, and why college isn’t the answer.

We need to talk about student-centered, research-based, grit, having a growth mindset, motivation, Bloom’s Taxonomy, and the push for national standards.

We need to talk about The Smartest Kids in the World, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Savage Inequalities, and Other People’s Children. We need to talk about Stuart Little, Moby Dick, Charlotte’s Webb, The Catcher in the Rye, The Scarlet Letter, Don Quixote, Wuthering Heights, Huckleberry Finn, and Little Women. We need to talk about Lord of the Flies, Heart of Darkness, Summer of My German Soldier, and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

We need to talk about unions, teacher shortages, teacher strikes, and alternative teaching certification.

We need to talk about crime and punishment.

We need to have a conversation about education.

  1. What is the purpose of education?
  2. What is the purpose of school?
  3. Should there be a difference between the purpose of school and the purpose of education?
  4. How do you feel about school choice?
  5. What is your opinion of vocational training as an alternative to college?
  6. What can we learn from the education systems of other countries?
  7. Why are we hesitant to learn from the education systems of other countries?

We need to have a conversation about education.

I hope you’ll stay. I hope you’ll join me.

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