We have our kid enrolled in a public school. He’s a super smart kid, scores ridiculously high on those school standardized tests, and we’d absolutely go into debt to pay for a private school if it was the right thing. But he’s a musician and the music program at his school is marvelous. The reason the school’s music program is so very good is because of one teacher. One amazing dedicated inspirational teacher.
He’s the guy who was a music nerd in school just like my kid. He’s turned Eamon and his classmates on to Jazz and Buddhism and a number of wonderful things that would have meant nothing coming from me. And he hears and sees each of those kids. And they feel heard and seen. They feel like they belong there in that class. In a time when we are fast becoming cogs in a giant wheel, it is more important than ever to acknowledge our children as the people that they are. They need to know they belong somewhere and are not just being asked, nay commanded, to fit in.
So imagine our outrage when the mandate got handed down that the 8th grade middle-schoolers in Maryland would have to fulfill a mandatory language credit for one half of the year instead of having band. So for one half of the year, band and choir and art students all had to give up their sense of belonging to complete a credit of something they’ll get plenty of in high school. He was unhappy and so my son passed around a petition to these children which they all signed because they thought maybe their disappointment would be heard.
The story will continue to play out. These children will not get that time back to be seen and feel good about themselves being who they are this school year. And sadly, the program in high school isn’t the same and many of them will drop out. Not my kid but for many, this is their last chance before life continues its artistic oppression.
So on behalf of Eamon’s music teacher, and for all the teachers who deserve the credit we keep forgetting to give them, write a thank you note to one you appreciate. Gush if you can. Because they deserve to hear our appreciation for the mostly thankless job they do. Their administrators just don’t get that it’s truly about the students. Their advocacy, their support, and their chance to be seen for exactly who they are.
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