In late April when I began my Anywhere But Here tour, knowing that the community where I had lived for nearly 30 years had failed me in so many fundamental ways, I didn’t know where I would end up.
I have found more than I hoped to.
I’m now in a community in which each morning when I turn to the editorial page of the local newspaper, this greets me:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Recognize that? It’s the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Space required: 3 inches by slightly less than .75 inch.
And this is what I found in my emailbox last night from the City Schools Superintendent [emphases added]:
“Greetings . . . City Schools Families and Staff,
Raising the achievement of all students! That is our ‘strategic imperative’ for . . . City Schools as seven action teams continue the important work of crafting specific, measurable, achievable and realistic goals for our new strategic plan. More than 200 of you have signed up for one of these teams and we really appreciate your investment in this project.
One of the teams has asked for your input and support. Your fellow stakeholders who are currently reviewing the many facets of a ‘year round’ calendar will next meet on Thursday, July 26 at 6:00 p.m. here in our boardroom . . . They would like to hear from as many of you as possible regarding this potential change to the way we schedule and deliver our curriculum. So please plan to come to this July 26 meeting if you possibly can.”
Imagine that: over 200 families and staff working in teams on planning for their community schools. A parent (me) new to the community deemed a “stakeholder.” A request for “input and support.” A desire “to hear from as many of you as possible.”
I settled for so little for so long. Why?
David Bowie, “America,” Concert for New York City, October 20, 2001.