George Carlin tells us to not try to change education because, They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking.
George Carlin ~ The American Dream
Carlin concludes: "Its called the American Dream,because you have to be asleep to believe it."
Would Carlin be stating this more or less forcefully in light of what has been going on in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan? What would he think about educators and parents about to participate, in person or in spirit, in the Save Our Schools march and rally? Would he think us all a bunch of chumps?
Perhaps he'd say, "It’s never going to get any better, don’t look for it, be happy with what you’ve got."
But perhaps he would cheer on all the Save Our Schools marchers who are earnestly trying to turn things around for all our children.
In Caveat's post at the Burning Man blog, The “Gift Economy” isn’t an economy at all, but that’s no excuse for your terrible, terrible gift , he speaks about being given a five foot tall copper staff hand with the only condition being that he hold it high and sing into the desert until the desert answers. Eventually, after he has sung his heart out, the desert did answer.
I have often felt, as I have advocated for Kid O, that I wander through the desert searching for an oasis.. Sometimes when I pour my heart out on Twitter, it feels much the same way. But every so often someone says, "Miss Shuganah?"
Who will listen to the marchers? Who will listen to those of us there only in spirit? How do we hold up the banner of eduction reform, and not have the ghost of George Carlin say, "told ya so." How do we move beyond good intentions? How do we keep this energy going so that this march does not end up being yet another "terrible gift," that looks good and feels good but doesn't end up being meaningful, effective and, more importantly, sustainable?
I read a blog post at The Coffee Klatch MFP grant helps people with disabilities transition from institutions to quality community settings and got me wondering about coming up with something similar to an MFP or Money Follows the Person grant but on a larger, more expansive scale?
What if we took the bureaucracy out of this entirely and found ways, within a community, to act as an open stewardship for an entire school district? We could do this through a gift economy, where people donated time and services. Think of the meaningful connections we could form. Disabled kids could help one another. Or an ablebodied kid could tutor a kid like Kid O in math. That may be more of a challenge for most kids, but they would discover that Kid O had, at the very least, the gift of laughter to offer in return, and, at best, an engaged learner. Kid O could benefit from interacting with her peers, and they could gain insight into what life is like for someone who has physical challenges.
The best gifts we can give our children is a well rounded eduction where we can teach them how to lead authentic, ethical and honorable lives. We could all be enriched by engaging in collaborative efforts to teach all of our children. Some might donate resources. Some may donate time. Some may advocate for a better future for all. The way things are now, school is separate from community. Isn't it time that we reconnected school with the community? We underuse our school buildings. We could turn them into real community centers that served everyone in the community instead of just a certain segment of the population.
Granted, this would take time to develop, but what if communities ran the schools? What if a community took care of a school so that all needs were met? If we could shift attitudes that school is just for kids, then we could rebuild not just schools but entire communities. We are all responsible for the elderly, the disabled and the infirm. Everyone deserves opportunities to be part of a community, be useful and really thrive
Money is funneled into schools in a way that perpetuates inequality. The largest donors get the biggest say. That would not happen in a gift economy. As Caveat suggests in his blog post, a lot of people are unclear of the concept. Trinkets are OK. Sandwiches are better .At least they nurture the body.
When Bill Gates throws money at schools, he is allowed to have a say in educational policy that gives him power over communities in a way that is unconscionable. It makes him, as George Carlin would put it, an owner. That places an obligation on schools to produce, ie, capitulate to "owners" by adhering to untenable policies of standardized testing.
Imagine, instead, if we had a way to support schools without Bill Gates' money and without him and Sam Walton and other "owners" being able to dictate policy. So many schools are spiritually dead. We could, community by community, breathe new life into schools. if we sing into the desert, maybe we will answer one another. Joyfully and Resolutely.