Friday, October 17, 2008

With liberty and injustice for all...

Today my Butterfly Pavilion work took me to an elementary school on the outskirts of Golden, CO. When I drove up to the school (after accidentally driving into the grounds of their next door neighbor, a country club) I found many other presenters there from the Denver Zoo, the natural history museum, the bug mobile, etc. Turns out that this school hosts an annual science day. This is an awesome idea, don't get me wrong. However, as soon as I entered the building I knew I was in a place of affluence. After going into many different schools for my undergrad work, student teaching, subbing, and now the BP, I am a pretty good judge of the affluence of a school based on its appearance. This one, with large classrooms, carpeted hallways, brick exterior, large playground and string instruments in the hallways, was definitely well off. When our first group of students came into the music room, my judgement was further solidified: every kid was white, well-dressed, and very clean. The student to teacher ratio for the 3 classes I observed today was about 18 kids:1 teacher. These kids knew their stuff, too. They clearly had worked hard on the information of metamorphosis before, and definitely had support at home to help them. These kids had an impressive biological vocabulary. Did I mention that student:teacher ratio? Yeah, 18:1..the classes I student taught in an affluent rural school district in Indiana had a ratio of 30:1, just to give you an idea of why this is so amazing to me.

It is not Blog Action day, but this post is quite pertinent to that. Most urban schools could not have hosted this type of event. Without an enormous grant they would have been unable to pay for all the presenters. On top of that, they would not have the luxury of taking an entire day out from the regular schedule b/c their schools are "failing" according to the national government. These schools have to teach a strict curriculum to ensure their students have even a fighting chance of passing their standardized tests. Why must these students pass the tests? In order to move to the next grade, personally, and to make sure their school can get enough federal/state funding to continue paying everyone and keeping technology up to date. In Wednesday's debate, John McCain said something that made me so upset I yelled at the TV. He stated that some of the "worst" school districts in the country get the most funding. This is an absolute blatant lie. I'm currently doing a BP after school program at a DPS school in an area with a very high Latino population. I am there giving the program b/c they got a grant, and let me tell you, this school has not been updated in quite some time. It looks a little sad on the outside, but these kids are amazing. And yet, their school is marked "failing." A school full of bilingual and soon to be bilingual students where teachers take time to write grants for after school programs is marked failing. Without any data I can tell you this school get significantly less money from the government and tax payers each year than the school I visited in Golden today.

As I wound my way through the hallways of this elementary school today, I happened upon a classroom of students saying the pledge, hearing the line "with liberty and justice for all." After my experiences there and while reflecting on my thoughts on our country's education system, I cannot believe in that line. What I have told you about above is injustice. Each day, the wealthy students at this elementary school get more attention from their teachers and enjoy  more programs and services, while students in many DPS schools use outdated textbooks and learn amongst the 25-30 other students one teacher is working diligently to serve. This makes my heart cry out. Don't fall for the lies the government tries to tell you: schools with more funding do better. Period. More money = more resources = better education. Don't believe that students from lower income families deserve less. They work just as hard and probably harder than those of us privileged enough to call ourselves middle class. Until the day comes when schools are properly funded and the national education budget becomes larger than that for defense, speak out. Learn the truth and tell the truth about education in this country. All children deserve to succeed and they deserve the best.  

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bike Ride

Clothing/equipment for 8:30 am bike ride: jeans. smartwool socks. tanktop. long-sleeved shirt. fleece zip up jacket. down vest. scarf. 1 pair gloves. 1 pair mittens to be worn over gloves. 1 fleece earband. 1 helmet.

As I left the house, there was frost on the grass and the raspberry bushes. As I quietly mourned the end of summer, I also enjoyed the beauty of the frost and the warmth of the morning sunshine.

Clothing/equipment for 2:45 pm bike ride: jeans. smartwool socks. tanktop. long-sleeved shirt. scarf.

Oh sunshine, how I love you. I needed an excuse to bike home on the beautiful Cherry creek bike trail, so I headed off to Vitamin Cottage for a bag of carrots. While fall colors are not so vibrant here, they are still amazing. The sun sparkling on the water of Cherry creek. The red creeping vines on the sides of the bike path. Brilliant yellow trees, some leaves edged in deep brown. The beautiful brown and yellow and green trees reflecting in the water of the S. Platte river. (As a side note, today I was 10 mins. early for work, so I walked around a 2 city block square and just noticed things. People with multiple dogs or serious briefcases. A shadow from sunshine on the ground. Veins of brown running through a bright yellow leaf as sunshine filtered through the branches.) It was glorious!

I LOVE living in this city with so many parks and well made bike trails. I love the plentiful sunshine and crisp temperatures. It's great. Sometimes, though, when I am driving through town at night and look up at the big buildings with twinkly lights I am awed and in slight disbelief that little me, in fact, lives here. It's only when I'm downtown and it's dark that this happens, really. I generally feel like I belong here, a woman from farm country, amongst the city scene. But I am awed at these giant buildings and the fact that I live in a capital city. It's an awesome feeling.