Monday, April 12, 2010

throw the money

I just returned from a fabulous morning playing with some children at a head start in DC. During my first week of spring break it occurred to me that I had a long, long summer ahead of me and that if I wanted to do something about that I should start applying for jobs. I want to use my skills, but at the same time try something new- teach a different age group, different population, or work in education in a different way. One of the places I applied was a head start that allowed me to come in this morning to spend a few glorious hours in their classrooms.

I had a great time, and it was the perfect way to enjoy my last day of break. (Part of that may have been because I left at 12 and was then able to meet my cousin for lunch downtown like a real live adult).

I keep playing the differences between that school and the think tank in my head. The children were the same- same smiles, giggles, same ways of interacting and experiencing life. The teachers all truly meant the best of the kids, and were on the floor leading them and teaching them as much as possible. The rooms were colorful, covered in children's photographs, clearly labeled objects, and designated activity areas.

As I looked around at the happy learning areas I realized what the difference was- I'm use to a strongly financially supported environment in one of the largest school districts in the country. I'm use to having endless materials at my fingertips, technology at every turn, and an expert in every subject matter an email away who can immediately answer my questions, pressing or otherwise.

I work in educational nirvana, and it's easy to forget that other schools don't have everything we have. Today was such a reminder of how important education funding is in our communities- and a reminder about what a difference increased funding can make on schools. All this shouting over teacher contracts, teacher pay, accountability, and standardized testing has been over shadowing the cry that some schools are in need of basic necessities in order to achieve their goals.

I couldn't help but think of when I heard Jonathan Kozol speak a few years ago, when he threw his arms into the air and shouted, "I always hear about people saying they just don't want to throw money at the schools. but I can't think of a better way to get it to them. Throw it down from airplanes- throw as much money as you can at the schools!"

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