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Two about Dallas

October 18, 2008 pm31 9:01 pm

I

You are all going to think I am awful. And maybe I am. But for weeks I have been mulling over how much I hate this video [it is the little kid, “I believe in me. Do you believe in me?”]

Look, the kid’s performance is great. But it’s a performance. The district wrote the speech, and trained him (quite well) to deliver it. I didn’t say I wouldn’t applaud. Of course I would. Anyone would.

But then let’s think about the message. There is an implication. An accusation. Someone doesn’t believe in little Dalton, and that someone is in the audience.

Can you imagine how easy it would be to address the problems of teaching and learning in this country if the only difficulty was that a few dolts didn’t believe?

If only you believed! We wouldn’t worry about funding issues. Or class size. Lousy curricula. Endless test prep. Ignore that stuff, tap your heels, believe – because the problems are there because you (who’s you? is it me?) don’t believe.

The text of the speech is available at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub. Part of the same post are some positive comments about the speech from Ed Darrell, the blogger, and a Dallas history teacher. He liked the motivational qualities. And I see them. But we may disagree about the content. (When you go, poke around, leave a comment or two. Ed’s blog is one of the great teacher blogs in this country).

II

Last week the Dallas Independent School District (same place) eliminated 1000 jobs, laid off 375 teachers. They lost track of $80 million or so. Believing in a kid is one thing. Believing in a paycheck, or believing in a job, something else. Do you believe you can make a mortgage without a paycheck? This is cruelly ironic.

Some links: Ed Darrell again, with “cut off your arm, move on,” he works there. North Carolina’s teacher of the year (really!) makes a similar connection “Does Dallas believe in you?” Here’s the story from the Dallas Morning News.

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