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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Good Grief.

This post goes out to those of you who have been subjected over the past 2+ years to my constant stream of disbelief and current event updates on the attack on public education, public school teachers, and the government's interference with the educational experiences of our children. I can't explain how it took me so long to get a clue, but once I did, all bets were off. I became obsessed with reading and verifying facts and so called "facts." My conversations with family, friends, and neighbors were, let's say, extremely limited. I wanted everyone to learn what I was learning. I am a teacher after all. But for someone who has dedicated her life to children (her own and other people's), this was too much to bear. Without knowing it, I became deep in the grief of watching my three daughter's educational experiences tainted by overtesting, joyless pressure and "rigor," as well as legislation that was being pushed by both political parties on them.

 I was recently out to dinner with a dear friend and she shared an observation that prompted me to write this post. She told me that she had been sad and concerned about me for the past year or so. She told me that I seemed like I was finally doing better. I felt terrible that I had been at such a bad place for so long.  I shared with her that I felt like I had gone through the stages of grief. It sounds a little strange that I would mourn an institution, and an imperfect one at that, but that is what happened.

My husband is the person who initially encouraged me to start blogging. Writing became important to me in a new way. I was able to report and share what the news and media weren't. My oldest daughter wrote an editorial about her personal experience taking the Algebra 1 Keystone in 8th grade, and our city's paper wouldn't publish it. We were shocked that they wouldn't give an articulate child a voice. Fortunately, education activist, Diane Ravitch did.

So, it has been really frustrating because our"high performing" schools are good schools. Our teachers and principals want to focus on what really matters, but are being derailed by bureaucratic interference with the intention to privatize. But you know what?  I am getting back on track and focusing on what I love—my family, friends, and teaching. This summer I have been working hard, letting creativity infuse new ideas into my plans for the upcoming year, and recapturing my love of life. I have been in shock. I have sat in disbelief. I have felt pain & anger. I have tread through hopelessness. And now I feel acceptance—not acceptance that we will forever lose public education (though we may). But I feel acceptance that though this is actually happening, my energy and passion for public education and for joyful, high interest learning for all kids (not just private school students) cannot be stopped.

I want to thank you, my family, friends, and readers for hanging in there with me these past years. It will not be an easy fight, but fight we must. Can grief be good? Getting through it sure is... and good grief, it can be difficult! I suppose that like Charlie Brown, I see that a lot is worrisome, but know that a compassionate dreamer with perseverance can get through a lot.

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