Everybody Goes to School

On the picket lines yesterday, I got a few moments to hear from a special education teacher. After a hot day stumping around on the concrete, talking about his students put a huge grin on his face.

“I have the best families,” he enthused, his passion for his students radiating from him. I learned that he works in a self-contained classroom. “Everybody goes to school.”

Everybody goes to school.

It’s a revolutionary idea. We live in a time and place where the predominant belief is that everybody deserves access to an education.

Not just the aristocrats.

Not just the boys.

Not just the children of literate people.

Not just the citizens.

Not just the neurotypical.

Not just the whites.

Everybody goes to school. 

I’m not saying our system is perfect, or that massive reforms aren’t needed to provide the care and services to the most vulnerable students. I’m not saying there isn’t an opportunity gap. I’m not saying that there is racial equity in discipline. I’m just saying, that in this place, in this brief slice of human history, we live in a place where access to education is PUBLIC.

We have thousands of educators, many with advanced degrees, who work to implement this idea in a thousand ways every day.

By working a plan to communicate with a student who is just learning English.

By meeting with parents to learn how to best partner in the education of a medically fragile child.

By getting a homeless student to the right shuttle at day’s end.

By calling on the girls who don’t raise their hands.

By designing a lesson to engage a reluctant reader who needs to use her whole body when she’s sounding out words.

By welcoming a refugee student to the American school system for the first time.

Everybody goes to school. 

Not just the test acers.

Not just the ones who will profit their families by getting an education.

Not just the ones with parents who can afford it.

Not just the ones who were born in perfect health.

Everybody goes to school. 

That’s the foundation of our democracy. School is a place where we learn to be citizens and to care for one another. Not to care for just some of us. Everybody.

It’s enshrined in our Washington state constitution as our paramount responsibility.

When will our state officials and district leadership restore this sacred trust and fund a city and a state where each child can get an education?

And when will we as citizens hold our elected officials accountable to that great democratic ideal: everybody goes to school.

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One thought on “Everybody Goes to School”

  1. This post captures the foundational beauty of the public school system. Not to be taken for granted. And needing love and support from many more than are currently attending. Thank you for capturing this great, though elusive, intention of our country.

    Like

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