[personal profile] philobiblius

This link is to the story of Nadia Lopez, the principal at Mott Hall Bridges Academy. She shared with her school, in the aftermath of the great good fortune that befell her and her school, that she had been ready to give up, to surrender, because she had lost faith in her kids and her program.

As you may well know by now, Vidal, who is one of her students, had his brief story (and face) was captured by Humans of New York and put out on the internet where anybody and everybody could read it --> and his life, her life, and the school's life have been irrevocably changed - more than $1,000,000 has come in, her faith in them is restored by his story, and all is well or, at least, looking pretty good right now.

So, why then is this labeled a tragedy?

There are so many more Mott Halls out there. So many more Nadia Lopez stories - people with a dream who pour their hearts and souls and blood and sweat and tears and whatever metaphor for lives you care to use, but whose student was not Vidal, was not on Humans of New York, and whose dreams are dying or have died.

We are not a meritocracy. We are not a place in which a dream and hard work is enough to ensure success. We are a place of crap shoots and luck. We are a giant lottery with people investing their beings in the belief that that will give them a good chance of winning when it gives them, at best, a poor chance.

It is worse than that, unfortunately. The dreams of our private educators who have made their way up from the bottom are smashed into pieces, but that is not the worst of it, by any means.

Our public schools are filled with teachers, almost all of whom mean well. Among them, our most passionate, most caring faculty are burning out just as Nadia has burned out. They, too, think "I felt like typing my resignation. 'I don’t think I can do it anymore. Because I don’t think my scholars care. And I don’t think they believe in themselves enough to care. I’m afraid they don’t think they’re good enough.'

And they think their administrations don't care enough. And they think their school boards do not care enough. And they think their state and federal legislators do not care enough. And it is hard to tell them they are wrong in the face of what we are doing to our teachers, our schools, and our students.

Some of you, reading this, may wonder what this has to do with gifted education, which is most often the theme of these posts.

We see the same things in gifted education that we see in the rest of the field of education, folks. We see tired, burned out people. We see institutions that have died because the people behind them grew too tired to move forward, while being also unable to find young firebrands to pick up the cause.

This state organization. That regional conference. This other unique group's newsletter and conference.

Some of them are thriving because they got lucky. No, not because they are good, but because they got lucky. Their founder did not get sick or lose all their money in a scam. Or a benefactor joined them and brought them back to life, like Mott Hall. Or any number of other pieces.

Yes, yes, you need to be able to take advantage of luck when it happens, but when it doesn't or when it is bad, then what? What is resilience to an institution that ran on a shoe string, when the shoe string breaks?

We are losing precious gifted institutions. College programs with both research and courses, as well as community outreach are going away either from defunding at the state (or province) level or because the leader died or moved along. City wide programs have gone away for much the same reason. It's not everywhere nor all at once. But in an area that ran annual events for decades, two out of three years there is no event and what used to be sponsorship from the state departments of education is gone, not just some of the sponsoring groups.

Please understand - what happened for Nadia Gomez is a wonderful thing for her school, her students, and her. Celebrate what has happened. But do not think it is a more deserving program than some of those that fall by the wayside, unnoticed in their passing. It is both deserving and lucky.

Do you have luck that you can lend to something you believe in?



February 2017


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