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On my Momma: Fund education to solve society’s intractable problems

Editor’s note: This latest piece by Boardhawk columnist Aaron Massey contains strong language. 

To date, 6.9 million people have died from Covid-19 worldwide. 1.1 million of those deaths were in the United States. All of our lives will forever be changed due to Covid-19. 

But do you know what hasn’t changed? Education. 

Throughout history, when a crisis hits, we learn and grow from it. The tragedy of World War II birthed the United Nations. Post the American Civil War came one of our first nationwide conversations about equity. After 9/11, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created. And although you don’t want to take your shoes off to board your flight, the cost of cold feet in exchange for safety is well worth it. 

When a crisis hits, we learn from it. We grow from it. We come together to think about how to move forward. However, after quarantine (which was traumatic for millions of children) due to a global pandemic, education went back to business as usual. Respectfully, we wasted a crisis. 

Prior to Covid-19, education was not doing well. 2.7 million children (ages 3-17) were diagnosed with depression prior to Covid. That number went up after. We didn’t change a thing. 

A mere 34% of eighth grade students in the United States were proficient in math prior to Covid. That number went down after. We didn’t change a thing. 

Right here in Colorado, 40,533 students were identified as having a significant reading deficiency prior to Covid. That number went up after. We didn’t change a thing. 

Ok, here is what is likely to be controversial. I would like to welcome a new genre of writing. “For-real Writing “if you will. I’m a nerd. I love education and want us to help these kids get to where they want to be in life. And I’m writing this post-two-glasses-of-wine after attending a Black educators happy hour. 

After drinking $10.99 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Merlot, we were having “real talk” about the state of education. So if reading real talk from Black educators that have had a couple of glasses of wine offends you and you decide to proceed anyway, let’s have a conversation. 

I’m sure we can come to some sort of understanding because I’m pretty reasonable (see my last article). The rest of us need to tell you something. I can’t speak for everyone but I can give you the most important phrase that a Black man from East St. Louis can give you: On My Momma! 

On My Momma: 

Do people understand how fucked up it is that kids can’t read in schools? I mean come on, people. Do you all understand that when a kid can’t read they legitimately can’t fully comprehend content, events, situations, words, thoughts, beliefs completely?

Like, they don’t have access to that understanding. Our society should for sure take care of them. It’s that simple. If you place politics over that thought, either party, that’s bullshit. And you don’t have to agree with that thought necessarily but many of us educators believe that. 

I could easily get 100,000 teachers to sign a petition to agree that we need to fund education, early childhood education, counseling for students, counseling for teachers and admin, parents, non-profits, advocates, etc. It’s that simple. 

All the crime we all hate, fund education. You might not know the connection. In fact you don’t fully know if you’re not in education. That’s what the fuck we do. We work with literally every human in society. 

Every person that you know, for the most part, had some type of schooling. And I’m shouting out homeschooling too. Y’all doing y’all thing. So if you want to know how to solve crime, depression, inequity, damn racism, sexism, all them isms. If you want to know how to do that, come holler at education. 

Name one other entity besides maybe religion –  shout out to God! – that has impacted the many people we have impacted in education. You literally have a favorite teacher. Mane, shout out to teachers bro! Legit, if you read any of this, you were taught by a teacher. 

Shout out to parents, y’all did that too. 

Let me say it simply: If you are a person that is in a position that will impact the funding, policy, development, leadership environment, or otherwise, in a decision making role for education such as foundations, philanthropists, law, classroom, superintendents, etc. (of which all y’all went to schools) and you are not willing to fund/pass a bill to make sure children can read: you on bullshit. 

And I really didn’t want to share this side of my writing with everyone because I’m much more calmly versed on average but I bet you a dollar 100,000 teachers agree with me. 

On my Momma! Nita P.