It's funny the way things work out. The person you thought you'd spend your life with, breaks your heart and twenty years later you read about him going to prison. O.k. really, no I don't know anyone that has experienced that seriously twisted fate. However I can say that the irony of my recent experiences has yet to escape me.
There are very few, if any, positive outcomes of school closure. Hmmm one would wonder, with that kind of track record, why are they becoming so popular? I suppose that's a thought for another blog. Anyway, in my case I worked very hard to try to come up with some sort of "well at least....." mantra I could live by for the summer and beginning of this school year. My mantra was supposed to be "Well at least we won't be fighting anymore"(to stay open that is). As it would turn out that is not the case. I conceded to change my reframe to "At least...." and hoped to fill in the blanks.
"At least they won't make that face when I say where I work..."
It used to be that when I would tell someone, a local person, where I worked there would be a sudden facial shift. It either morphed into the ever excruciating "That's so sad" face, or the "Gross! You work there? You must be a horrible teacher, maybe even full of germs. Where is my hand sanitizer?". The previous look would always lead to a million questions. There people either felt horribly for the families I worked with, not that it would drive them to help in anyway, or they assumed I was stuck and felt horribly for me. How nice of them to pity me! I would always proudly say this school was filled with my non biological family and some of the best educators in our district. I was quick to educate people that yes quite a few award winning teachers and well loved principals were the product of these training grounds. On the other hand, the people who instantly looked down upon me, were more often than not people who chose not send their kids to our school for a myriad of unfounded reasons. Call them what you like, but they made those choices with the best intentions. In time I've come to see that our community is filled with lovely, well intentioned, uneducated people. People who have no clue what education is really about. I took those moments as an opportunity to try and share a different perspective. After all education is not just limited to the classroom.
So there lies my first "positive reframe" of my school closure. No longer would I get "the look of despair or disgust" when discussing my school. In fact I will never say that I work there again. Therefore, I wont be "on guard" ready to defend my school's honor at any moment. YA! Of course that's how it has worked out at all. This summer I felt like the poster child for school closure. I think the highlight was the week I spent in Chicago as a State Delegate. Without fail, every time I was introduced to someone I would start to tell them that I worked at Park Oaks in third grade. Of course I'd stumble over the mistake, in the end looking like a blubbering dork who had no idea where she worked. As a matter of fact, that still happens to me, just not as frequently. So no they don't make that face anymore. Its just a different face, that's all.
"At least I won't be up all hours of the night researching how to save our school"
You'd think this was a no brainer right? Of course I'm not having to do that any longer. Now its just for a different reason, because my school isn't gone, it's simply redefined. Now I muse over how to expand our outreach program. Then reminded of the fact that we are on, the very definition of borrowed time, I refocus. How can we strengthen our current position? The problem is that a charter school has moved into what was once our campus. We are still in possession of certain rooms for outreach. Also because of their kindness, or perhaps guilt, they allow us to use a few more rooms so that we can serve as many people as possible. Despite the "extra rooms" we are bursting at the seams and have to turn people away on a nightly basis. I must admit we are lucky to have been allowed to occupy extra rooms. The problem is, that no matter how generous people might appear this year, there is no guarantee for next year, or there after. What happens when they request more space? I have no doubt they will, whether its necessary or not. Will we once again lose our district advocates to the nefarious charter? It's funny, really. We originally offered to share the campus with this school. We thought we were doing "the right thing", practicing what we preach...welcoming all with a spirit of community. Now, we do share the campus with them, in the same way that Native Americans share land with the the rest of the Americans. I don't lay awake and wonder what I can do, only what I could've done.
In the end, well actually there is no end is there? As education continues to flop around drowning in the thick waters of ill-conceived mandates, laws, and budgets our kids will pay the price. Eventually the best teachers will say enough is enough. They will have to draw the line because there will be no one else to do so.