As much as I enjoy the long daylight hours, bare email in-boxes and the balmy breezes of summer, each August I delight in the refreshing prospect of a new school year. The specific mix of excitement and anxiety, which comes from daring expectations and memories of last year’s disappointments, reveals how much we continue to treasure the opportunity to learn and to teach. For those of us who are lucky, school is a sanctuary where we can discover the best of who we are and who we can be.
In the next few weeks, a multitude of teachers, children and parents will scramble to provide the essentials, like chalk, construction paper and pencils, necessary to make their schools work. Vibrant hopes–that they will be as fun in the classroom as the favorite teacher that inspired them to become educators, that they have grown from last year’s lessons, that their children will reach new educational heights–invigorate these contributions. Despite being given meager resources, their dedicated participation as builders rather than consumers, advocates rather than bureaucrats, is what helps so many public schools continue to survive. However, parents, teachers and children cannot transform neighborhood schools into havens of self-discovery without our support.
At Progressive Pupil, we believe insuring free, high-quality education for every child is everybody’s business because safe, empowered youth are the foundation of peaceful and prosperous communities. While the fight for education reform continues, you can be part of the solution by supporting a public school in your neighborhood. For example, Ms. Barash is bringing Hamlet to her class at Bedford Academy High School in Bed-Stuy. In doing so, she is helping her students develop critical thinking skills and place their life experiences within broader cultural, literary and historical contexts.
Donorschoose.org is an organization that makes it easy to support teachers, parents and students like those at Bedford Academy. Just enter your zip code and choose a classroom project to assist with an affordable donation. These efforts to build thriving public school systems are all the more urgent in the face of attempts by the U.S. government to funnel more and more youth through the school-to-prison pipeline. Transform belief into action and make this back-to-school season revolutionary.
Robin J. Hayes, PhD