Last week, I had to trudge through wintry sludge, battle subzero winds, and haphazardly tread on ice; all of this just to sit in a half empty classroom with a substitute teacher. From fighting elderly women for a seat on my bus to bruising my limbs on ice, I risked my life for a five-hour session of school. I will always remember that day: February 2nd: the day students and teachers deserved a snow day instead of a 10 A.M. delayed opening.
I am not saying this merely because I wanted a snow day. No, I made the effort to go to school through the wind and snow. I waited at my bus stop for almost an hour, watched two buses go by, decided it was impractical to go to school, and trekked back home. Why should I risk my life for people who don’t even take me into consideration when making the decision for a delayed opening? I wonder how many students and teachers were absent that day. I wonder how much money went into hiring substitutes for an empty school.
But why am I so surprised? This isn’t the first time the Board of Education has failed its students. I remember three months ago, teachers all over the district came together to protest the board’s decision to extend report card night by a half-hour. The teachers simply demanded to get paid, regardless of being under a contract. I also remember, three months before that, teachers and students grieved over the board’s decision to implement PARCC, a standardized test that is supposedly the best thing that has ever happened to standardized testing, but, in reality, only illogically quantifies a student’s knowledge and wastes time for other endeavors. Needless to say, teachers and students were aggravated when the board took a step further to jeopardize lives in the name of education.
Education, the only means by which any person can elevate his or her own standard of living. Education, the key to success that can only be attained after years of pouring over books and papers. Education is to coax students to venture into a world of endless possibilities, because they are the future. American Journalist Sydney J. Harris once said, “The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.” Unfortunately, the Board of Education turns windows into mirrors.
Education is an open window that lets you see outside yourself. Hence, turning mirrors into windows, but what Board of Education has done is force students to confine themselves within standardized testing, so that exams shroud their creativities and abilities to venture into a world that does not run on standardized testing. My brother got a 14 out of 40 on a practice PARCC exam, the highest grade in his class. So will that number matter when he is in college? Will that number matter when he has a job? What is the point of education if it is an obstacle to the real world?
As students outside of my city rejoiced over a snow day, I cursed the freezing elements. Walking through the sludge, I realized that the education system is in peril, and I would have to wait forever to see the day the board stopped caring about numbers, and started caring about its students.