Saturday, May 18, 2013

Our Science Expo and why public schools can be a wonderful place

The last two weeks have been filled with a lot of excitement at Jove and Miranda's school: author's celebrations, a Mother's day breakfast in Miranda's classroom and the Spring Showcase (Science Expo, Art Show and Book Fair).  I organized the Science Expo part of the Spring Showcase and so, in addition to helping Miranda and Jove with their projects, I have been busy finalizing preparations for the Big Event all last week.  I am a little tired, but very happy.

The Science Expo was a roaring success: so many families came out, we had over a 100 students do science projects, their were live animal and mineral displays, Jupiter's amazing chemistry show and a make-and-take area with slime and UV bracelet making.  When we came into the school last year, I had the dream of reviving the school's science fair and with help from other parents and administrative support my dream became reality and exceeded everyone's expectations.  Which means, of course, it will become an annual event. Yay!

After working in and around my kid's school this week, I am even more convinced that it is a great place to be and excited to be a part of the Roxbury community.  I feel like people disparage public schools and their teachers, and, interestingly, some of these people don't even send their kids to public schools.  Both the school system where I work and where my kids attend are very socioeconomically and ethnically diverse which means they are subject to scrutiny that no mostly white, all (upper) middle class school would ever receive.  Please, don't ask me if the school my kids go to "is a 'good' school or if it is 'safe'?" because all it shows is your own bigotry (and yes, I have been asked these questions too many times to count).  We chose Stamford Public Schools because the schools are racially integrated.  We believe in integration.  I believe the only way that equality will thrive is to stand side-by-side with all people. 

I know as much as anyone else that there are some very ugly (and ridiculous) trends in public education like the focus on high stakes testing and punishing teachers who are committed enough to teach struggling students, but these trends have little to do with how teachers or principals work, what they stand for and how they view students.  Many of us in the school system feel as critical of these trends as the people that criticize public schools.

So, as Gandhi said,  be the change you wish to see in the world.  If you want public schools to be better, make them better. Public schools, as a social institution, reflect our collective values and desires and if we have two unequal school systems, based on social class and race, what does that say about us?

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.     

 From the Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost

 Outtakes from the Mother's Day Breakfast in Miranda's class with the best kindergarten teacher in the world.

1 comment:

The Clarke Five said...

please tell us when the next expo is happening. We live closer to you now (I think)and we need some science expo-ing. Left to ourselves, we read and do art.