Okay, I know we've been in the midst of Common Core Curriculum, and I promise to get BACK to that ASAP. But I need to take a moment and talk about students. It seems sad that STUDENTS are 'off-topic' when talking about CCC or any other curriculum, but sometimes it seems like the students are a side story.
I opened my small local newspaper to a story about crimes committed in our town and some arrests made. Without giving any big details, I noted (as I, sadly, often do) that one of the students involved in this crime is an ex-student of mine. Now I know that doesn't do much for my credentials as a teacher, but the truth is, I see ex-students in the arrest record more often than I'd like to admit. The sad part is I am rarely surprised. When I knew these students many years ago, we all knew they were on negative paths. Sadly, we tried many interventions, many programs, many things to try and re-route these troubled children, but they all had ONE THING in common. Their parents were troubled and off-track, as well. For example, on one occasion, I had a young student whose mother clearly had major drug problems, to the point that we wouldn't let her drive her son home from a conference. Is it any surprise, fifteen years later, that her son is arrested for drug possession? I HATE that it is so predictable, yet we seem so impotent to stop these horrible family traditions. It breaks my heart. I could tell you two dozen stories like that one. All predictable. Sometimes, when I hear of an arrest and they give the age, I try to guess who it might be. I know these ticking bombs. I know these children, while they look like adults, are stunted and poised for bad decisions. It's a horrible and sad thing.
I have another ex-student whose mother was barely in her twenties when she came to the conferences. She was so proud of her smart, high-achieving daughter. You see, she had birthed this girl when she was only thirteen, and she was DETERMINED that her child would finish school and go to college. Yet, sadly, her daughter ended up having four children before she graduated from high school. I know that situation broke my heart AND her mother's heart. In this situation, EVEN THIS MOTHER wanted to break the pattern, she wanted to help her daughter so something different, and, of course, so did her support system of teachers, so WHY WASN'T IT ENOUGH?
Now, I do have some awesome kids who have broken out. One boy who works in the community had so much trouble in school, honestly struggled though he tried, so I always worried that he would be vulnerable to less desirable 'career' options in crime. However, he is a stand-up, hard-working, beloved citizen of our town. I wonder what he thinks when he sees classmates who made 'Easy As' grow up and go to jail while he struggled for a C, and now he's the most successful of that bunch. And why are they so often boys?
All I know is someone somewhere made a difference in the life of that last boy. Try to be that difference. Know the children in your world. I know some situations seem so destined for tragedy, but maybe a word from one person could change all that. DARE to speak up. DARE to have high expectations of our young people. Reach out with a smile, a handshake. Take the time to learn the names of the kids who hang out in your neighborhood. Ask them what they're reading. Ask them about school. Encourage them.
CCC is here. It's happening. It's something we all need to know about and be aware of. But no curriculum, no plan, no dynamic Federally funded ANYTHING will take the place of community. NOTHING can replace the power of expectation. RELATIONSHIPS will always yield power and influence in the lives of young people.
My Mission Statement
I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.