Thursday, February 20, 2014

Communal Responsibility and Solidarity?

        This Public School is housed with a great deal of warm hearted, caring, and brilliant teachers, staff, students, and parents.

        Unfortunately, the tyranny of administrators and the existing lack of accountability for their actions and inactions in creating a hostile environment directly hamper learning, stagnates growth, and forces great souls to leave or become complacent, abandon their sense of skepticism and advocacy, and perceive the art of teaching as merely “a thing to do to pay bills”. This directly asphyxiates the inspiration of teaching and the facilitation of inspiration in the classrooms. Students pick up on these subtleties and inevitably, themselves, become too immersed in fear to speak-up.

For Example:  

                 The letter below is my reflection concerning an incident that occurred
                 in the middle school, related to a topic which directly affected
                 the adolescent culture everywhere in the United States.

                 Unfortunately, administrators completely mishandled the situation
                  and missed the perfect opportunity to “…foster a sense of
                  communal responsibility and solidarity…”
                  (as per our school’s mission statement).

                  My voice here caused me to be summoned, reprimanded, and
                  continuously harassed by administrators.

From: Luis Perez
To: MP, BMc, JB, OR, VN, ZH, DL, JA, MR,

Apr 2, 2012
Somehow The Energy Will Come Out 

        In Amistad we try to foster a sense of community building and solidarity. In fact, such words are woven into the very fabric of our school’s philosophy. We hold several spirit-wear-days and engage in other activities that bring people closer together to plan and bring forth positive change.  
        Late in the day, Thursday, March 29, 2012, I learned that our middle school learners had congregated and organized to wear hoodie-sweaters, carry around a pack of Skittles (bite size candies), and Arizona ice-tea, in solidarity to the unfortunate conditions surrounding a teenager that was shot and killed in Florida by a neighborhood watchmen on February 26, 2012 (Trayvon Martin). 
         Our learners manifested growth in an area we try to foster and commitment to our school’s philosophy and they should have been appropriately recognized for such deed. They manifested a sense of peaceful organization, community building, solidarity, and even coordinated their own spirit-wear day for a cause they felt strongly about. 
        After learning about how poorly 802 conducted themselves with a particular teacher on Friday, March 30, 2012, I thought it essential for all teachers that have 802 next to express their disapproval with how they handled themselves. I had mix math with the 8th graders which consists of some 801 and some 802 students. This gave me the opportunity to direct everyone’s attention to two different groups of students claiming to have faced a similar conflict only dealt with it in a completely different manner and thus attained completely distinct results.  
        As several students expressed themselves I casually wrote down on the board some key terms that they mentioned, (“so we protested”, “some one cussed at the teacher”, “everyone was laughing at the cuss”). After listening to them for a short while and getting past their façade of bravery, I brought their attention to how everyone managed to, passively and directly, allow the situation to grow out of control. I then had them all consider for a moment how one person would feel in front of a large group that is protesting against them, talking uncontrollably, cussing, and laughing out of control. They listened to each other say the following words, “sad”, “alone”, “confused”, “embarrassed”, “hurt”, “angry”, “scared”... As they listened to themselves say these words I saw much remorse and shame in their faces.  
        I reminded them that together we are very powerful, that we have the potential to destroy or heal the spirit of a person. I reminded them that they destroyed the spirit of this person whom was only trying to help them and they managed to look like cold hearted individuals in the process. I reminded them that they are not cold hearted individuals. I reminded them that they are great people, that this teacher is a great person and did not deserve any of what occurred. I reminded them that under no circumstances does a student cuss at a teacher or laugh when someone else does this. I reminded them that they collectively owe this teacher and themselves a sincere apology and a promise never to do something like this.   
        All this actually reminded me that the learners in A were cued-up to protest and one way or another they managed to do so. I wonder if this incident would have occurred if we were more nurturing about what they set out to initially protest about.

         Note: Letter ended there but it is important to note that instead of supporting students or at least allowing them a different outlet to demonstrate their sense of solidarity for their adolescent community, administration abruptly trampled on their passion and motivation by mandating that they cannot come to school dressed with hoodies, that candy and cans of drinks are not allowed in the building and will be confiscated if seen, and that they should just forget about what they have been planning to do. When students asked for an explanation they were unsympathetically told that the orders are not negotiable.

School's Vision (Mission Statement) -

"A" Dual Language School is a community of learners
that embraces the unique path of each individual.
Together we foster a sense of communal responsibility and
solidarity through the celebration of culture, language, and diversity.
Our children will move forward ready to meet the academic, social, and
human demands of the larger community, taking with them the
magic of discovery and the power of two languages.