[NOTE: This piece was originally published on the blog of the Durham Association of Educators. Click HERE to read it in its entirety along with its accompanying photographs.]
I want to start today’s post by encouraging all readers who don’t already to start paying close attention to the public discourse about public schools. And then I want to bet you all $5 that if you start doing it, you’ll be overwhelmed by the following words on near-repeat status on the television, in the newspapers, and online: accountability, testing, failing, achievement gap, scandal, curriculum, rigor, standards, and choice.
After I collect your money on that bet, I want to go double-or-nothing that you won’t hear the word that actually represents what most frequently happens in our schools on a day-to-day basis: caring. Teaching, like nursing, social work, and a few other select professions, is nearly 100% about caring, and if we’re going to have honest conversations about our schools, we need to be brave enough to use the word, because it is way more accurate than any others you could use. The problem for those who are shaping the narrative around our schools, of course, is that caring can’t be measured and no one can make money off of it.
But for the staff at Southwest Elementary School, caring is not quantifiable. It is just what they do. All day. Every day.