If 2016 taught us anything, it’s that our national reflection isn’t as pretty as we thought. Admit it, we’ve all passed a lot of judgement on others but hopefully did a little self reflection as well. 2016 was a year of many kinds of losses but we hopefully learned some hard lessons.
In 2017 it’s time we start expecting better. In the past years, decade, and century, we as a country have made impossible feats come true. The technology age has exploded beyond our wildest imagination. We have driverless cars and touchscreen phones. We have internet connecting us to nearly anyone and any piece of information at the drop of a hat. Our social norms are changing. In 1920 women got the right to vote. In 2008 our first African American president was elected. In 2015 we took away gay marriage and finally gave everyone the right to just name love as it is in a bond of marriage. In 2016 millions of American finally believed that a woman could lead our country. 100 years ago people would not have believed we would progress to where we are today. But here we are.
This is why i think it is time to start expecting better. Far too often, we still fall into the comfort of saying that’s just how it is. Well yes, that’s how it’s always been, but it’s not how it has to be in the future and WE will be that change.
I write as a teacher and speak for the bright eyes looking towards the future in front of me. At 6 years old Ruby Bridges broke the status quo as she walked through the doors into a newly integrated. It wasn’t what people were used to. It was scary. It’s was different. It wasn’t easy. If she could do it, so can each of us.
Today our schools may be racially mixed, but we are perpetually dividing society along lines of class.
We are taking the greatest free service provided to every single person in our country and using it as a tool of segregation. Why? Because that’s how it’s always been. Because the more affluent communities pay their property taxes. Because can you imagine if those poor kids came into our schools??
If you don’t work with “those kids” I don’t think you get a say. Let me tell you I work with those kids. I’ve worked in 3 schools with 75-100% poverty. I’ve been there with large class sizes and limited resources. I’ve been there with over worked and under educated parents. It’s not the kids that are the problems. It’s not the families that are the problem. We are continuing to keep those at the bottom down. The next rung out the ladder is constantly out of reach because, for some reason, we are threatened by giving those people at the bottom the same opportunities we have.
I am not so naive to think that I can change the world. But Maya Angelou said it best, “Don’t underestimate the power of a small group of people to change the world. Indeed, they are the only ones whomever have.” The first step is to stop accepting the status quo.
Admitting it’s not ok makes it our responsibility to take action. Most days I’m not sure I can carry that burden, but we have to stop saying “that’s how it’s always been.” We are so much better than this. We have flown to the moon and back. In a world like this, we need to stop using education to tear us apart. People rise to the expectation you set for them, high or low. Well, I’m done with low expectations. I expect more.