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Friday, September 24, 2010

It's time to stop waiting, and become Superman.

I've read blogs and reviews, watched trailers and Oprah's two-part series, and I can honestly say, I can't wait until Waiting for Superman opens here in the Triangle. An Inconvenient Truth is one of my all-time favorite documentaries (and oddly enough, I've watched tons of documentaries....big dork, remember), and I think Davis Guggenheim finds the heart of a story and relates it in ways that even I can understand...so yeah, can't wait.

Kids today are faced with situations and moral dilemmas I never had at their age. I grew up in what I always thought was your normal, average, run of the mill all American family. What I discovered as I got older was that we were none of that. We weren't average, we weren't normal by society's standards...we weren't even that all-American. The all-American family was just propaganda on tv. Ozzie and Harriett and the Cleavers and Huxtables never existed.The things I thought were everyday occurrences in homes all across the country...just weren't happening for other kids my age.

For starters, I had a two parent home. I grew up with four loving grandparents. Round that out with an annoying little brother and a dog in the backyard and we were the cookie cutter what tv makes you think suburban life is all about family. We had a schedule...dinner around the table 4 nights out of the week, out to dinner on Friday night, dad grilled out on Saturday night and we got to order pizza and sit in front of the tv to watch Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman on Sunday night. Didn't everyone do that? Did everyone's parents drag them all across the county for softball and piano and dance lessons and youth group and cheerleading and Girl Scouts? Didn't the parents of all the kids at my school make sure they had three meals a day and that their homework was done and they studied for the spelling test on Thursday?

The older I've gotten, the more I can see just how lucky I was. I went to private school for kindergarten, and then spent the next 12 years in public school. My parents were involved. There were repercussions for not bringing home the grades they knew I could achieve. There were tutors brought in when I thought Algebra II just might be the end of me. There was never a question of whether or not I would go to college. These were foregone conclusions.

I had my own Superman teachers...those who went above and beyond that you could really tell cared about the students and the people they were becoming...not just what our end of year test scores said. Those were the teachers who made it fun to learn. Whose classes I took because they engaged me and taught me things not just about the material they were covering that day, but about myself. Ms. Bass, Ms. Hartley, Ms. Jelovich, Miss Moore, Mr. Gage, Ms. Stewart and my mentor and friend, Dr. Moskowitz all came into my life and changed who I was...and who I would become. They taught me to read, to write in cursive, my periodic table, what the heck an x-axis was, that cupcakes make everyday better, how to diagram a sentence, and how if you just thought about it, you really CAN separate North Carolina into Congressional districts that make a modicum of sense.

The proverb that it takes a whole village to raise a child is correct on so many levels. Without everyone coming together...parents, teachers, legislators, voters, volunteers...our children will fail. Not one of those will succeed without the help of the others. We are all needed. My parents didn't raise my brother and I by themselves. They had help...we need to stop the blame game. It doesn't matter whose fault it is that we find ourselves here...it's not a red issue...it's not a blue issue...it's an American dilemma. John Legend said that the failure of our education system is the civil rights issue of our generation...so what can we do? It's time for action...

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