That has always been the answer. Like Abu and Lossine taught me, "There are three things one needs to be successful in the United States: education, education, and education."
I'm in the land of education now and schooled with experts in the field, journals of high prestige, and libraries of books to help me do what is best for kids.
And still, the obstacles are extreme.
One of the things I have come to realize since relocating to Connecticut is that the Nobody I always knew I was is TRULY a Nobody in the larger game of politics, economics, and traditions. By this, I mean, there's an uber class that fights each other out: us vs. them, and it has nothing to do with the majority of us. This is the class of people who think about poverty and solutions from boards, consultancies, and philanthropy. 50% of this class of people feel one way and the other 50% feel another. They compete (usually ivy leagued elite on both sides of the spectrum). They have funds to give, but they are beyond detached to who will receive them. This is what the 2016 election is all about.
The everyday people are sick of this class of elites who are battling it out for power. In truth, neither side really cares about the vast majority of everyday people - working people, struggling people, laboring people, dedicated people (to them, it's a parlor game to discuss such people over cocktails and board meetings). They may say they care, but they don't. They live in their version of utopia (usually away from the communities they discuss) and intellectually feel they have superior solutions, yet they are battling with intellect, wits and hubris for their own gains. I see it more clearly now and the joke, "What's the difference between a Republican and a Democrat? The way it's spelled" makes even more sense.
Meanwhile, the poor are the poor. The working class is the working class. The struggle is real.
I got a call from a social worker yesterday telling me about a young man who takes care of a 9 year old brother and a 1 year older sister. He's an honors kid and lettering in three sports. He's applied to Universities all over the country, but hasn't heard a thing. A few weeks ago, the three kids found themselves totally homeless. The kid is doing what is right and trying to get an education. The social worker wondered what next steps for the kid should be. He's one who has made it through urban struggle and who still has hope that there's a pathway away from his history. He's an achiever, but will their be a pathway for him to succeed in a nation that says one thing, but acts in another.
One would think there would be a clear trajectory for such a young person, but there's not.
Inequities are real and, sadly, I don't really think politicians talking as they do have a clue about how hard a majority of people in our nation are living. When I think about the stories of the young people I know, I can't help but make the connection that they are Americans, born in America, without any of the comforts of the American Dream (even when their families have been dreaming hard for a very long time). This is happening all over. As billions upon billions are spent on #OscarsSoWhite, NCAA tournaments, fashion shows, Super Bowls, and elections, I continue to think about K-12 schools. We talk about equity, but do we ever address the inequities that really exist?
The anvil drops on the coyote's head.
How any one individual thinks they are deserving of a salary for one year - one that could run a school district for 1,000s upon 1,000s of kids - is beyond me. The 1 life (um, really?) is worth more than the lives of all those children? I don't think so.
I understand the fervor for Bernie Sanders on the left and Donald Trump on the right (two sides of the spectrum). The status quo which has been in office for the last 16-20 years needs to be challenged because the moves they made have been totally hypocritical for what they claim to care about. We saw glimmers of this when the Tea Party began challenging the norm (before they were usurped by the conservative right). I learned in a history class, once, that the Reactionaries and the Revolutionaries eventually become the same thing before it all falls apart and a new order is recreated. I am wondering if we are living in such a time.
I still believe in Democracy and the voice of the people; even if I disagree with the popular voices, I know that democracy means a decision of the majority. Majorities are speaking now loud and clear and it is not the angle I would take - but I am hearing them.
The teacher in me is simply concerned with one thing: our kids. Not just kids heading to soccer practices, SAT prep, after school tutoring sessions, and dance classes, but the kids who have no access to such support and privilege. The kids whose parents are not able to put a roof over their heads. The kids who want to learn in school, but attend institutions where teacher turnover is high, state support is authoritative and militant, and funding is dismal (I welcome anyone to come with me for a tour).
A day like I had yesterday makes me sleepless, and I grow more disgusted with myself because I'm now in an ivory tower...where kids pay two times what I made as a starting teacher, for one year of tuition (so they can have parties on weekends to get drunk while pretending they are poor). Detached? Yes. Their fault? No. This is political. And it's disgusting.
The Gods must be (are) crazy. I've lived long enough, to realize, they just are getting crazier (crazy as they've always have been).
For now, though, I continue to find hope in the optimism of youth. They have potential. The adult world has simply lost their minds. Cry The Beloved Country.