A Tale of Two Schools

I will be returning to the highest poverty school in Spokane in less than a week. Highest Homeless. Highest Refugee. Highest ESL …

Please. Please.

Grit is NOT the answer.


Let these children experience art, music, movement, projects, building, exploration, curiosity, fun… DAILY … Not push push push … Not test test test … Not sit sit sit … Not listen listen listen …

~Raschelle Holland~

I know this lady. I know her soul.

And now you know about the hole in her heart.

And then this exquisite soul must walk out of that Twilight Zone school … and into a jolting dimension … one occupied by her very own son.

“I toured my son’s remodeled public school … It’s gorgeous … art every week in a beautiful art room … science every week in a beautiful science room … [few] qualify for free and reduced lunch. Test scores are high. It’s considered an “A” rated school by OSPI in Olympia.”

And she almost aches that her son is advantaged … and those “other” children … back in the cheap seats where she teaches … are not.

But she’s not to blame. That belongs to some far away folks … who are allergic to her reality.

The federal government has now admitted what we all knew … that this dreadful reform was a multi-billion dollar ruse. Actually … $7 billion worth of ruse.

A reform that was never real. Never genuine.

Just a concoction of cellophaned premises. Hollow promises. Gilded in educratic junk-speak. Championed by cultural-tinkerers in the Department of Education … who whizzed away billions. And forgot about the kids in the cheap seats.

Seven billion dollars that should have fixed Raschelle’s school … and spackled that hole in her heart.

But this reform was timid and spineless. Never facing up to racial or economic realities.

“The building I will walk into has 94% of children qualifying for FREE lunch … The students I work with … Will not have art consistently each week … Or science … Rather they go to a class on “Grit” and learning to push through and try harder … “

Yeah. Buck up! Your shirking 8 and 9-year-olds.


That’s a helluva reform. Find that genius who imagined that a good idea. Sit his kid in a cheap seat. And see if that kid blossoms on a steady diet of grit.

The most struggling schools are almost always found in inner city circumstances … and they are overwhelmingly schools of color and disadvantage.

But reformers ignored that … ’cause that would require speaking some hard, racial truths … and the race card would surely show up somewhere. And you shouldn’t shake that tree. No, no, no. That would cause discomfort.

But what about the discomfort of those kids in the cheap seats? Weren’t they worth it?

Apparently not.

So, the reformers whimped. And took the easy way out.

“The scores in my school will remain low … And reform curriculums will keep coming … to ‘cure’ the academic achievement gap … And it won’t be cured. In fact, it continues to widen.”

And so will the hole in Raschelle Holland’s heart.

Here’s the sick irony.

These reforms were applied across the board. To every single school. In a grand display of meaningless equality.

A one-size-fits-all reform extravaganza. And it didn’t much matter if a school was successful or not. Everyone was gonna sip the same scholastic hemlock … even if it poisoned good schools and made bad schools worse.

It was government idiocy in search of perfect equality …  and it screwed everyone. Equally.

But … it didn’t have to be this way. And this teacher shouldn’t have wind whistling through her heart. And those kids shouldn’t be glued to cheap seats.

This is a mess that cannot be unmessed. It’s time to begin again … and time to get it right.

Everyone knew certain schools were short-changed. Poisoned by greasy politicians and self-serving unionists. But … instead of a cure … all we got was a $7 billion travesty.

And Raschelle Holland?

She got an ugly hole in her heart.

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