Life Lessons


“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.
– Atticus Finch”
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

I loved reading Harper Lee’s book even better the second time around. Our children read the book in high school and before passing it along, I decided to read it again and it made the same impression. Working with teachers in the public school arena gives me a broad prospective of the work that happens when you work with children and adults living in poverty and experiencing constant mobility. The playing field is not level for our parents and students.

For example, Harrison Primary Center has top-notch leadership. Recent statistics of the population served show that 257 of Harrison’s 628 students are English learners, however, only first year immigrants receive an ISTEP waiver. The teachers have skills to teach the student English and how to read, but fluency takes time as does learning to write.

Another example of the disparity is the second grade reading scores show that 65% of SBCSC students are reading above grade level at the final eight Wilson Language Reading trained schools. This has been a ten year effort, with great success, taking schools from 15-16% in reading to an average of 71.9% proficient. Any business that would have a 50% increase would be front page news. Not true for SBCSC, and we need to support these fine efforts of our teachers.

How can these students, and the teachers that serve them, receive a fair evaluation? They are working in jobs that many would not even think of accepting, and being emotionally scarred in the media and by our state with grade letter failure marks. Why also are those who are working so hard, being punished, with no financial recognition for their efforts, as only “good” schools get bonuses?

If this note bothers you, please get involved. Mentor, discuss the inequity with your representatives, thank a teacher or principal. They need to occasionally hear that our community realizes the tough work they do and we appreciate them! Be like Atticus and talk about the mixed messages that we send and think about what you might do to improve a child’s lot in life.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

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