Shake the Dust

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 07 2014

Prep them to Death

Today, for the first time in 134 days of teaching, I am one hundred percent positive that I fought for what my students deserved.

The story is ridiculous (it involves my obsession with getting my students a certain magical blue TI-15 calculator to use on their benchmark) but I’m on fire. It took me three days of flipping through state regulations on the benchmark, digging through cabinets and rooms for stray calculators after hours, rallying support, being belittled by my school leadership, and not taking no for an answer to get a yes. It was a yes clothed in anger and annoyance and disapproval but I got what I know my kids need. I got those calculators and nothing is going to keep us down.

My principal at the conclusion of her hesitant youmakemesoangrybutfine YES texted me and said “Prep them to death!” Did an “lol” follow? Sure. But is she serious? You better believe it.

Prep them to death to take five straight days of standardized tests? There’s no way. They don’t deserve to be turned into tiny foot soldiers marching into the battlefield of education funding and accountability. They don’t deserve to be the beneficiary of a Below Basic test score that feels like less a product of their work and effort and more a result of the systemic racism and classism in this country that has kept their families in generations of poverty, branded with score after score of Below Basic. My kids don’t deserve that.

My kids deserve to be taught but if they’re going to have to go into battle then I’m going in with them. I am going to hug them tight and arm those little warriors with all of my love, the sharpest of number two pencils, and those battle tested blue TI-15 calculators. The war paint is across my heart and there’s fire in my eyes. Game on, Benchmark. Love always wins.

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Arkansas, y'all.

Mississippi Delta
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Elementary Education

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