An Open Letter to Doug Ducey and Arizona Citizens

An Open Letter to Doug Ducey and Arizona Citizens:

Let’s begin by discussing the expectations that the districts of Arizona have for their publicly funded schools. No matter what location the school is in, the expectations are equal. What does this look like? Your school could have a large refugee, immigrant, low income, middle class, special education, or wealthy population and everyone is given the same state and/or district test. The expectation is that these students are prepared rigorously for these tests even if they are monolingual and have just moved here from another country, or are in specific sect of the special education program. The student might have no support system at home and are only thinking about where their next meal is coming from, or if they will have electricity when they get home. Rigor is the only option.

Then, no name politicians without an ounce of educational background come in and take out the curriculum that has been used across the state to support this rigor for the past three years. The students finally have some kind of familiarity and then they want to yank the ladder of support the teachers have been so carefully building. Furthermore, in an already under funded work place the governor is refusing to give money to his public institutions of education. If the rigor was lacking before, it will be non-existent now.

A government cannot expect its people to create something from nothing. They cannot expect teachers to create rigorous readers when there will be no more reading programs. They cannot expect teachers to create rigorous math students when after school programs will be cut. They cannot expect teachers to foster learning when music and sports will be cut. They cannot expect students to continue learning when those counselors and social workers who ensure the safety of the student outside the school will not be around.  They cannot expect teachers to continue down the path of public education when the government places no value in an institution that has been turning out some of the United States’ greatest minds over the last 200 years.

Our value is worth far more than the pittance we are paid. Which is obvious in the hours teacher devote in time spent not teaching but doing the job.

The expectation for teachers: to hold a child’s future in their hands. It is one of the most valuable and the most rewarding job in society.

If there was ever a teacher who had an impact on you, then stand against Doug Ducey and the corrupt politicians in Arizona. Secure YOUR child’s future. Do not let them take away your child’s or any child’s rights: to learn, to a valuable education.

Sincerely,

Alex K.

Middle School Teacher

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Circles

I don’t think I will ever understand this thing we have come to call life, or the people that inhabit it. Three days into this new year and another precious person has been taken from this world. What I don’t understand is not the death. That is part of the life that we live. But, how so many can choose to make a mockery of this life when there are those that will never have that opportunity.

Society sings about “dying young” and fills the young ears with echoes of “get high all day”. People drive at 75 miles per hour (drunk out of their mind) smashing into innocent victims, stealing their lives, without a care in the world. (This was in our local news yesterday and is separate from the above mentioned person.)

Not only are they teaching children to devalue the only life they have, but we are making fools of those who don’t have a choice. Who were not gifted with health, and opportunity. Who are fighting with every last breath to stay alive past the age of four, twelve, twenty-eight, thirty, forty-two. Why should their lives be of any less value than others?

It is time we take a look in the large mirror of society and ask: What kind of imprint do we want to leave on our children? On the world? From where I stand the life my mother fought for, my friends fought for, and that most humans want to live every day is made a mockery by the words that we allow to be exploited in the media everyday and ingrained into young minds.

Life is not about, “Living fast and dying hard,” but rather, “You must live in the present launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment,” as Henry David Thoreau stated. Only then can we truly be happy. When we simply stop and enjoy each other, remembering the moments, not the race to the end. We will get there soon enough, some far sooner than others. Why teach children to throw it all away before it’s too late?

 

The First Bike Ride

I like empty parking lots

after fall storms.

Humid air clings to clammy skin

hard breaths puff from lungs.

Like mirages,

miniature puddles gleam in the

peaking sun.

Rays poke through-

left over clouds hanging

low,

for that last chance

shower.

Training wheels and two-wheelers

cycle ’round my memories-

shadows,

in empty parking lots

dancing after fall storms.

 

No School

We have been working on fairy tales in my classroom for our family pride night. I decided to help motivate my students, and write them a fairy tale. I have been adding a little every day and using the same process as my students’ so that they can see how to create theirs. Though mine is quite a bit longer then their requirement. This is not complete, but I am putting up what I have so far. My students have really enjoyed me sharing my writing, their reaction is that this should be a Disney movie, also that I need to finish the story, so they can hear the end. I hope you enjoy it!

Once upon a time in the land of Party School a lovely lady called Ms. Good Teacher taught the best classes. The students’ favorite was her video games and cook class. They loved to play Call of Duty and make chocolate chip cookies in their portable ovens. Party School was a huge palace in the middle of a tropical island. It was surrounded by white, sand beaches and crystal blue water. There were hammocks strung from palm tree to palm tree where the students would nap between or during class. Ms. Good Teacher didn’t mind. She just brought them smoothies and arranged for Nate Nogum to hand out bendy straws. It was a good life.

One day, Ms. Good Teacher was playing Super Mario with Alexa Apple, one of the students, when a strange ship appeared on the horizon. It crept closer. There had never been any visitors at Party School. The boat was silent as it approached with a shadowy fog surrounding it. Ms. Good Teacher rushed everyone inside, “Lock the doors!” She cried.

“There are no doors!” screamed Maria Marker.

“There are no locks!” wailed Nate Nogum.

The students huddled together in the pillow room under the cover of a tower of  blankets and pillows; not sure what to expect. Ms. Good Teacher stood guarding the entry, a dusty yard stick in hand. She had pulled it from a storage closet that, as far as she knew, had never been opened. Nobody made a sound as the ship clanked to shore.

Someone could be heard traipsing through the Party School Palace. Clearly, the person was looking for someone or something. Smashing and crashing started faint but became louder as the person came closer. Ms Good Teacher held her ground. In front of her appeared a tiny little girl who could not have been more than eight years old. She had blonde ringlet, pigtails. Her clothes were ragged and torn, she had dirt streaks and smudges on her face and arms; there were no shoes on her feet, which gave off the putrid smell of rotten garbage.

The students quivered under the blankets. Ms. Good Teacher stared questioningly at the girl, “What do you want little girl?”

“I am no little girl. I am Sinister Student. I have come to take you to the land of No School. You can come quietly, or I can make you, ” Sinister said, a sneer on her twisted face.

“I will not leave my students unsafe and our land willingly,” Ms. Good Teacher replied. She did not waver.

Magic crackled on the tips of Sinister Student’s fingers, “Then, we’ll do this the hard way.” She waved her hand. Before Ms. Good Teacher had a chance to react, Sinister Student sent bolts of magic at her paralyzing Ms. Good Teacher. She collapsed onto the floor. “Finally,” cackled Sinister, “Party School will be no more. Sinister Student grabbed Ms. Good Teacher and dragged her back to the boat. She took her away to the land of No School, leaving the students terrified and distressed.

Maria Marker crawled out from the blankets, “What are we going to do? We have to get Ms. Good Teacher back.”

“I want Ms. Good Teacher back! I don’t want Party School to go away!” Cried Happy Hawkins. He sat down, pillow in his lap, with tears streaming down his face.

Maria Marker stood up, ripping the blanket from her, a look of determination crossed her face, “We have to save Ms. Good Teacher! Who’s with me?”

The students stepped back looking at each other ad shrugged. Party School had made them quite lazy, they didn’t want to do any more work then what was required. In fact, the land of No School sounded very enticing to them. Finally, a small, quiet boy stepped forward from behind the students. “I’ll help you rescue Ms. Good Teacher,” whispered Dom Decimal.

“We need magic to fight Sinister Student, without that, we will be powerless against her.” Maria Marker told Dom Decimal as they walked out of the palace and toward the boat shed.

“In one of the stories, before we came here, there was a nearby island. Cynthia the Great lives there. She has good magic that can help us,” Dom told Maria.

“Let’s go there first.” The two of them pushed a motorboat from the boat shed into the water and jumped in setting off toward Cynthia the Great’s island of magic.

Dom and Maria were parched, starving, and thinking they would probably never make it to the island after traveling for one whole day and night. “Land!” Croaked Maria.

A glowy, glittery outline appeared on the horizon. It could have been a mirage, but Dom confirmed it was the island of magic. All the dust in the air was Cynthia the Great’s magic dust. Maria Marker had been wondering if she would ever see water again when suddenly a pitcher of water appeared in her hand. She began gulping thirstily. At the same time a bucket of fried chicken appeared in Dom’s lap. He ate it ravenously.

Their boat hit the shore. They pulled it up into the sand. The air was dense with magic. This island was different from Party School; it was a dense forest, crawling with magical creatures. A plump, short pandicorn (half-panda, half-unicorn) approached Maria Marker and Dom Decimal on the beach. He spoke in a high pitched squeak, “Hi! You have come to see Cynthia the Great! I’m Pickle, I can lead you to her.” He jumped a little and skittles fell out of his tail.

Maria rubbed her ear and Dom looked a little frightened, but they stepped forward. “Lead the way,” said Dom. Pickle led them down a rainbow path into a sparkling forest of candy and music. Songs came from trees of licorice. The forest floor was made of gingerbread and sprinkles. Maria Marker and Dom Decimal were in awe; the rainbow path carried them through the magic forest a constant feeling of happiness spreading throughout their body.

After walking for fifteen minutes, they arrived at a glimmering house with a thousand fairies surrounding it. “This is the home of Cynthia the Great,” squealed Pickle. The door swung open and out stepped a young girl. She was wearing dazzling robes of turquoise down to her ankles. Her Cinnamon hair hung long, past her waist. She was breathtaking.

“Welcome, welcome,” she sang her voice like warm honey.

Gremlin

Sticks and stones. Sticks and stones. Sticks and stones.

My demons are the way words crawl up and down my skin trying to find a way to enter. Hiding in the creases of my elbow until there is that one chance cut, and they can scuttle into my blood stream-flow into my body. Words are sneaky like this. Even if you are less observant than myself.

“Rachet.” “Gay.” “Homo.” “Fat.” “Dumb.” “Ugly.”

Don’t tell me it just slides off you. Words don’t slide, they hook into the crook of your wrist. Stick like glue onto your legs and stomach, stay until one day you grow tall and confident, peeling them off your epidermis. Yet, sometimes you can’t. We can’t. I can’t. 7th graders don’t.

“Snitch.”

A person who tells on another person, because they stood up to do the right thing. The word of the week. Her wrist bleeds out gay, short, fat, dumb. Her pills drown out ugly, homo, rachet. Words that the students’ batter into her head everyday as they shove her into a wall. So he writes a confession to the teacher full of names. Snitch. When really, he is a hero.

Dead. Is what she might have been. Lying lifeless, the words beating against her pale, ageless body, dangling from her toes trying to be set free.

It is the words clinging to our lips, spewing from the fire.

Sticks and stones. Sticks and stones. Sticks and stones.

Names are forever.

Limbo

The circus came to town while Maggie was asleep. A ringmaster stood atop a charcoal colored, oversized bucket in the center ring and shouted, “Come one, come all.” They did. They came from near and far. The people filled the grand stand seating until only one little seat was left way up high above the rest. Tucked back in the corner, where it was impossible to see the ringmaster shouting from his perch in the center.

But, Maggie was asleep. Wildflowers painted across the sky bleeding through clouds. They poured down onto the pirate ships where swashbucklers looked up caught off guard. A mop in one hand, Roger cried for his sword. What were these abominations falling from the melancholy clouds? Maggie cried, “I will save you!” She took the wildflowers, knelt down and dug in the fresh dirt that now covered the non-existent pirate ship. The flowers took hold and grew tall. Maggie looked up to Roger, but he no longer stood scared with a mop and sword. He had left the flowery ship and so did she.

Lions pranced across the circus arena chasing a terrified tamer. He led them dancing through hoops of flame. The audience roared and came to their feet with applause. The lions took little bows one by one; their manes drooped and dragged across the ground. Still, one seat remained empty not a shadow of a person to be seen.

Maggie snored soulfully, but her arm seemed to be missing. She was racing down a speedway. One hand on the steering wheel, the other had been removed from her body. The car whipped around a corner and through a hole into the space continuum. Driving onto a large sapphire space ship that glittered with glass paneling, she skidded to a halt and hopped out of her car. “Captain, the asteroid will collide with us at any moment,” A short man in a turquoise uniform approached Maggie. She gave the order. They would have to self destruct and use the escape pod.

The audience turned to the empty chair. Whispers echoed through the stand,”Where is Maggie?” They said, “Where, where, where…” Clowns took the stage, suits oversized and brightly colored. They clomped in their giant red shoes, gagging and giggling with silly faces. An audience member was chosen for a prop. Into the cannon he was loaded and shot from afar. Plop. He landed in a pool of pudding, vanilla.

The pastures were green as envy. Maggie’s palomino galloped uncontrollably barely touching the wild grasses. She clung to his hair leaning forward as the sunlight streamed across her bare back. They burrowed deep into the earth and she looked at her body which was no longer her own. Her head was attached to a small thorax from which extended six legs. Maggie was suddenly two times as strong as she used to be. “Help us!” Ahead of her, a small pebble was crushing two of her fellow comrades. She loaded the pebble onto her back freeing the miniscule ants, who thanked her profusely.

The circus was leaving town, while Maggie slept. Onto the trucks the lions leapt. Clowns crept quietly into the night. The ringmaster thanked his audience. They clapped and left to near and far. Maggie did not know of the circus. Although they whispered her name, she slept, attached to machines. In a bed soft, with blankets warm. The stillness did not disturb her dreams. Machines sounded. Beep. Beep. Beep. Her mother wept at her side, head in her lap, for her daughter to wake.

Jordans Pt. 2

I’d like to believe that reality will one day become easier. That the hard times will pass and happiness will overwhelm us. Peace will reign and everything will be good. But, it is not what is true. We muddle through our day to day, we hold on to those we have and then we pray that they don’t leave us. At least not now, not when it is too soon, when it is too fresh. Why pray? Because it is easy. It is nice to have something to cling to when life leaves you tumbling down a dry dirt road so full of prickers you wish you never stepped foot in that forsaken desert to begin with. Yet, it really wasn’t your choice. At least there is someone waiting for you, holding your hand as you spin uncontrollably into the storm that we deem to be life.

Bianca had only her friends. I have learned by my experiment (said Henry David Thoreau) and it has been my experiment, that seventh graders cannot be trusted further than you can spit. Their developing brains cannot allow them to understand the complexities of life, therefore they will be best friends until the end… the end of the week. Of course, they would never reveal this to you themselves, but it is exactly what happens on a daily basis. This was the case for Bianca as well. She may have had her friends, but they were never her true friends. So again she was left alone on the outside of the world looking in with no one to take her through the storm that she was about to pass through.

I have also come to understand that there are people who are evil. Maybe their own parents were like Bianca’s. There was no one to teach them right and wrong. She was looking for love. A person to hold her and tell her that life would be something. She would be more than just a woman lying on couch drowning the sorrows and horrible memories of a life time of wrongs. But, how do you explain to a thirteen year old what her step-father did to her was wrong and going to find herself comfort in the arms of a boy who was kicked out of middle school is not the answer?

Bianca was living the life that no child should ever have to find themselves a part of. She took solace in the fact that her one friend came from similar circumstances. Middle school changes people and it did that to her friend. She slipped Bianca drugs in her drink. Bianca overdosed in the middle of class that day. She had no idea what was happening. She began having seizure like attacks and was rushed to the hospital. Her life was falling further and further into a darkened hole and the rope was fraying. Every time we pulled her out a few more strands fell loose. It was the boy that would end up changing her life not once but twice in the same year.