What Right?

Ok, I stole someone’s idea. I didn’t use it like they did…it wouldn’t have worked with what the rest of the day was going to be…but hopefully it had an impact. Student’s filled out an information sheet for me with their “drop dead phone numbers.” “What is a ‘drop dead phone number?'” I hear you ask. It’s a number to call so that “if you drop dead in the middle of class I have a number to call so that a parent will pick you up right away and I don’t have to push you over to the corner where you’ll stink up the room all day.” Kids get a kick out of that phrase. But that isn’t the idea I stole. That phrase is original as far as I know. I hereby grant you permission to use it.

In addition students were given an index card to answer the question “What gives you the right to sit in class.” I based it from the story of a teacher who set the classroom up without any chairs. Each class that came in that day had to deal with the same question. Finally, at the end of the day, 27 uniformed servicepeople: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines walked in with the chairs to remind them that people fought and died to preserve their freedom to be educated. So, after giving them time to answer, I asked for answers. Not many volunteered and very few were anywhere near the right answer. Closest answer was the Constitution – but even that wasn’t a correct answer because education is not mentioned in the Constitution. Then I told them the story of that other teacher and reminded them that people fought and died to protect our freedoms. I pointed out that fate of children in other countries where they don’t have a right to education. I then added two people who were important to this answer; especially in a school that is mostly Hispanic: The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dr. Hector P. Garcia. They fought to end the segregation that included the lie of “separate but equal.”

These students need to know how much others have sacrificed and fought for their right to an education. So often they take it for granted. To be honest, I wanted to stir them up to the point that they would now fight for their own education. So many of our kids don’t understand the sacrifices that others have made for them. So many don’t understand the value of an education. If I can get them thinking about that and help them realize their potential, I can be proud of the work that I do.

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