Friday, January 15, 2010

Ripping my heart out

I'm now three days behind on this blog and on my stated knitting goal (already!), and I still haven't gone out to purchase the yarn for a new project. But then, things have been a bit hectic, a bit disheartening, a bit dark. And not only in Haiti. For three years, I've worked with some of the most dedicated, ethical education experts imaginable. The Superintendent of Schools in Harrisburg, Dr. Gerald W. Kohn, aka Jerry, is known and recognized -- Superintendent of the Year 2009! -- for his energy, experience, and vision. He is relentless in trying to improve children's lives. He prides himself on stealing the best talent from other districts. They are good people. They do the next right thing, every time. But the forces-that-be conspire against the right thing to do. This nation is built on public education -- equal opportunity for all. But now, politicians want to mess with that, for reasons that are quite obvious. We've privatized the prison system, we're working on privatizing our national security, the military industrial complex has been private all along, and we tried the privatization of finance with such stunning results. The conservative among us seem to have no problem risking our children's futures. Gentle reader: Have you seen "Wicked"? I saw it with the original cast, thank you daughter Annie, who knew it was the musical to see. Anyway, it's so true that you'll hear me say it again and again and again: "No good deed goes unpunished." I once quoted "Defying Gravity" regarding a relationship lost, but now that I've grown, I know in my heart that it's not about that at all. It's about ethics.
And if I'm flying solo
At least I'm flying free
To those who'd ground me
Take a message back from me
Tell them how I'm
Defying gravity
I'm flying high
Defying gravity
And soon I'll match them in renown
And nobody in all of Oz
No Wizard that there is or was
Is ever gonna bring me down!
In Port au Prince this week, through natural causes, thousands have died, thousands more will. So many children are left without homes. We couldn't really stop an earthquake. But an earthquake of our own making is about to shake our nation just as hard.
Do you know how many children right here in Harrisburg don't have homes, or food, or any hope other than what's provided right there in their public schools? Why are newly homeless Haitian children pictured on Page 1, above the fold, while our own are invisible?
Even the successful children in Harrisburg, like those who have benefitted from all the hard work of the colleagues I so admire, those who have applied themselves for 12 years and are doing brilliantly despite all the obstacles they face, are not above the fold.
Oh, I know why; I don't mean to be disingenuous. But it angers me, profoundly. It doesn't have to be this way.
My readership is small, and I'm most definitely preaching to the choir, but this I believe: each one of us can change the world. Please, each of you, hear my plea. We have to fight what is coming. It's as stealthy as our nation's high end bombs. It will hit its target unless we fight.
And is there no better metaphor than that of battle? I think there is.
We have to knit our own lives with those of these children. We are all of one fabric, Haitians, Harrisburgers, and all.
Nothing that happens in public education, a world where the endless labors of good people often go unrecognized except by the students who love them, should be about revenge, about self-interest.
But it seems sometimes to me that in this life, we knit rows and rows and rows of warmth, only to watch them get ripped out. Yet, we cannot stop knitting.

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