Tuesday, July 10, 2018

I'm Privileged. And Spoiled.

I went down a Twitter rabbit hole today.

Push-back from an educator (1) had me looking at this person's timeline. The pinned post led me to another educator (2) upset with yet another educator (3). Looking at this educator's (2) timeline led me to another educator (4) upset with consultants and speakers who are "out of touch" with education. In this post were myriad links to another educator (5) who shared thoughts on two views of education. And this, my friend, got me thinking about inequities in education. And in life. And it showed me - AGAIN - how privileged and spoiled I truly am.

I'm reminded of this daily, actually. There are so many things I don't need to think about. My race (white). My parents (health is good, and money will somehow appear for them, even if they're struggling). My children (whom I never actually had). Money (we live within our means). My classroom (so much choice in the matter - with administrative support). Hmmm... my classroom. That's what these posts were getting at. Many educators (me, included) don't take into account inequities in schools.

My problem is that I don't have that problem. My district is affluent. I get paid pretty well. I have 24-26 students in my courses (homeroom is 30-31). Population at my middle school (of about 1000 students) is as such - I looked it up on our Illinois Report Card:
Our "low income" is 4.8%. IEP'd students - 11%, and we have resource and co-teachers. I don't know how many students have 504s, but that number is increasing yearly. My guess is it's about the same number as those who have IEPs.

And check out the student attendance rate!

I've got a cush job. I've never thought otherwise since I moved to this district in 2002 after seven years as an itinerant special education teacher in another county.

I'm so very privileged.

Just a rambling sampling: I have so many "first-world problems." I had to look up how to spell "privilege" - I get it wrong more often than not. I have a MacBook Air without a CD port, so I can't listen to as many free audio books from my library as I used to. I don't know what I'm going to eat for lunch, as we've got a bunch from which to choose. I have to switch out my clothes from the attic when the seasons change, because I have a small closet in our little ranch house on a quiet street. I have to help my husband in the summer with all his work fixing up the house and yard (today he's back in the crawlspace getting it ready to seal to bring the humidity down - he's retired from Ford Motor Company - and an HVAC expert). Sometimes (like today), it simply means I'm here doing other work while he's down there - just in case he needs anything - I have to entertain myself. I don't know how much to give to the charity my coworker shared. Should I put the top down when driving to meet friends at dinner tonight or will it be too hot? I don't know how we're going to tackle grammar next year - I need to find time to meet with my coworkers to chat about it. Speaking of finding time, I didn't even take the time to truly - completely - read the posts I cited above from those educators - I've got too many YA and ELA books to read on my nightstand next to my clean water I get from turning on a faucet...

Geez. I could go on and on and on...

I have so very many privileges, and I am so very spoiled. What helps me through this is that I am so very grateful. Most of the time, I'm aware of how spoiled I am.

Then I'm reminded by a friend or family member (and myself!) that I made many many choices that helped me along on this path towards prosperity and happiness. Yes! I have always been a saver, and most of the time a hard worker. ... And yet it's privilege that has helped me to be able to make these choices...

I won't keep going on about how fortunate I am, or turn to focus on why gratitude is so important. I want to focus on the rabbit hole I went down and where it took me next.

I simply don't know what to do about it.

I don't know how to make others' lives better - financially or institutionally. I don't have answers. I don't share ideas about inequity in Shift This, because it wasn't my focus. I don't even know how much I actually thought about inequity while I was writing it. Did I ever consider how my race played into what I was saying? I doubt it. Did I consider low-income areas? At times. I did try to make the shifts about what we can do - with or without resources. Did I ever say "all" or "none" or group schools, administrators, teachers, and students into one category? Oh, geez, I hope not.

I DO make sure the books I purchase for my classroom are becoming more diverse. I DO make sure we take time to talk with each other about diversity and individuality. When difficult conversations come up, we'll have them. We'll let them be awkward. My hope is that we recognize that we DON'T know much more than we think we DO know. My priority is on my own students first.

I still don't know what else to do about it.

I know it may not affect my blog posts on my regular teacher blog, as I typically write for a large teacher audience or an ELA-specific audience, but I hope these thoughts will start to stay with me as I write further. As I tweet. As I have conversations with others.

My only conclusion today?
I have so far to grow.
I hope I have a lot of time and opportunities in which to do so.

If you'd like to contribute to this blog, contact @JoyKirr via Twitter, or add a comment below as to how we can contact you. The more voices, the better - we need to keep having the conversations!

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