Red, yellow and blue

The superintendent should have held her press conference in the cafeteria of the school I spent 30 hours of observation in this semester; the cafeteria where rotten ceiling tiles fall on the children while they eat.

As I walked around our classroom one afternoon, I noticed several of the students were coloring the stars and stripes yellow. I complimented one student’s work and asked why he had chosen yellow, he smiled, pointed to the flag and said, “I know the flag is supposed to have white stars and stripes, but our flag has yellow stars and stripes.” It wasn’t just the flag that was aged; it was also the molded ceiling tile, the leaky faucets and the rotting wood that surrounded these children. How have we, as parents and politicians, allowed our schools to deteriorate to this point?

That being said, here is a different set of Rs:

Responsibility: During my observation, not one parent graced the door of their child’s class. The same parents who allow their children to miss 10 to 40 days of school a year and blame the educator for their child not being able to advance to the next grade. At what point did parents stop caring about their child’s education and at what point did they stop being involved?

Resources: Educators need the tools to do their job; unfortunately, it appears to have become less of a priority to grant the funding needed to provide a proper education. Improving education is all the talk, and test scores have become our highest priority. Could it be that we’ve become so focused on measuring our children and teachers’ improvements in order to receive funding, that we have forgotten that funding is needed to improve education?

Recognition: When do we recognize our teachers for their hard work, for the time spent after class preparing for the next day or for spending the weekend shopping for supplies so their class can complete the project for Monday? These days, the only type of recognition a teacher gets is for poor test results or a sound bite on the evening news protesting to keep their retirement benefits. Face it, in this state teachers get little respect and even less recognition.

—Adrian James
Oklahoma City

Adrian James

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