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From Chuck Olynyk: “I Am A Test Score”

February 27, 2011

It just so happened that when Chuck wrote this post, that I also was teaching  “I am from” poems in my classroom, the idea of which came from Ms. Pyrko and one of her wonderful student teachers,  Mr.Whitney.

Speaking of using  and manipulating students, I remember when in true Cultural Revolution type fashion,  students at Fremont interviewed their own teachers, even ones who were chronic truants.   I recall a certain D7 suit declaring, ” Now students will have a say in who their teachers are!”   Except…..they didn’t, other than as a way of being manipulated to participate in the destruction of their own education.

I’m trying to imagine what student would not want Linda Lewis or Mario Becerra back.   The fact is they had no say or no choice,  neither did their parents.   And those who caused this chaos and destruction are still running the school.


We see what the kids are being
reduced to by this educational “reform”:

“I am a student.
I am a test score.
I am educated if I use Cornell notes.
I am college ready if I participate in Socratic Seminars.
I am periodically assessed, covered in a uniform,
Separated from my peers by boundaries on a campus.

“I am a reader of textbooks, not novels.
I am a participant in group projects,
Cutting and pasting models
Rather than writing.
I am a receptacle for the latest programs.
I am a lab rat to experimented upon.

“I am a tool of reformers.
I am a weapon used by others.
I am a hammer to bust unions.
I am an excuse for adult-driven agendas.”

That’s not what I want my kids to turn into. And the way we can fight that is by
standing together.


I am from poem from one of my students, Mary (pseudonym) at my options school:


I am from an unfree world

Not even a tree can grow

There’s no sorrow, never got to grow fully

F#@$ all them bullies

It seems like the best is yet to come

But I bet nothing is coming along

Now as I hit this bong, I wish I can come up with song

Many of  the students here have drug issues and are high every day- this is reflected in the poetry.   If the district were really serious about having true Options schools, then the kids would go to school in the am and go to work or to an internship in the pm. By being warehoused, sometimes with kids who steal and are dangerous, they simply create a synergistic negative mood that is hard to break.

However,  once they get out of the environment, they often do much better as I discovered on a  field trip.  To be honest, I was somewhat afraid of what their behavior might be but they were awesome and asked very intelligent questions.   If only they could have these experiences more often,  I believe they would do much better.

Here is one more I am poem from another student,  David (pseudonym)

I am from the street lights and stop signs of the urban jungle

I swing on the electric vines trying to find peace in the bright neon

I live beneath the plexiglass and brick that make my home

I glide inside the metallic beast known only as the MTA

I find a haven inside my mind and not outside

I am David, I am here

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