Making people

Inspired by a comment from my sister, I posted on my Facebook wall, ‘A school is not a business, and a kindergartner is not an “education customer.”‘

It boggles my mind, this trend of “corporatizing” education, trying to privatize it and assess “student progress” as if learning could be broken down into factory widgets, children as factory workers, teachers as – what? Overseers? Jeebus.

My sister is a teacher. My mother was a teacher. Year after year my mom spent her own money to make sure that all of her students had school supplies. Many times she spent her own money to make sure her students had warm coats for winter, but she always made sure they didn’t know the coats came from her because she didn’t want them to be embarrassed.

All the teachers I know are like that. They work all weekend, they work most of the summer, they spend what they need to in order to make their classrooms comfortable.

I can imagine how angry and frustrated the teachers I know would be if they were like some of the ones whose signs I’ve seen in the Chicago teachers’ strike – classrooms with no heat, not enough textbooks, not enough seats. How have we politicized education to the point that we let this happen? That it is OKAY FOR CHILDREN TO NOT HAVE A CHAIR IN THEIR CLASSROOM?

Every time I hear someone complain about not wanting their tax dollars to be distributed to less-wealthy local school districts, it boggles my mind.

Educating children isn’t just about putting facts into tiny heads. It’s not a simple matter of creating workers or constructing future producers/consumers.

Education is making people.

It’s giving young humans the tools they can use to dream and then work to make those dreams reality. It’s making citizens, who will vote and participate in society. Making neighbors, employees, future parents.

How could you ever suggest that the whole responsibility of making people rests with teachers, who only see those children for about 6 hours of every 24, 180 days out of every 365?

Making people is a complex, messy process. How could you ever simplify that down into a set of skills that can be measured by filling in small ovals with a #2 pencil? It’s absurd to even suggest that’s possible.


4 thoughts on “Making people

  1. Clare

    It makes me wonder if part of what’s going on in the corporatization/privatization model is, in fact, an effort ultimately to redefine “people.”

  2. Emlyn

    Thank you. Andy is one of those teachers on strike and it amazes me what politicians are trying to do to public education. Wouldn’t everyone like the children in less-wealthy areas to have the best chance for education, so they can have ‘a better future than their parents.’ isn’t that the American dream? How does that happen without quality, free, public education?

  3. Gwyn

    Well, I already know I am not going to have a better future than my parents. I only hope my children can have A future, right now. I have hopes that the new contract will improve things (they’re using the insane amount of money from the TIF funds to hire some support staff), but I’m not holding my breath. Glad the kids like to read on their own.

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