An Open Letter to Robert Levy by Jessica Christy Bowman
Editor's note: This commentary was written by Jessica Christy Bowman. Jessica is a Pinecrest graduate and registered voter in Moore County. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Mr. Levy,
Math is hard for me. Always has been. I just can't understand it
But I can measure. I learned that in my sewing class.
I can do some fractions. I learned that in art by mixing colors and in cooking class measuring ingredients.
I always read really well, but I didn’t speak well at all. I learned how to enunciate in drama and music.
Under your strategic plan, I guess I never would have learned any of those things because I couldn’t do math at grade level. I guess I couldn't have taken sewing or cooking or art or drama. I guess I wouldn't have gotten a job through the school training program and learned life skills either. I guess I would have been stuck doing remedial math at summer school even though it wouldn't have done me a bit of good.
I would never be able to do math at grade level no matter how many remedial classes I took. Under your plan, I wouldn't have been able to learn all those other things either. I would have been forbidden to even try, because you wouldn't let me take any of those "enrichment' classes.
There are lots of kids like me. Kids who can’t, and kids who can but have a hard time and just need a little extra help. The thing is, that help can come in enrichment classes. Cooking and sewing and technology and drama and art and music and auto shop - ALL those enrichment classes help kids learn math and reading better. Sometimes, it’s those special classes that help kids figure out what they’re really good at.
Your plan punishes kids like me by making us sit in a class for "dumb" kids over and over instead of being able to learn things that we like and are good at. A lot of those kids will drop out of school as soon as they are old enough if they aren’t allowed to learn and grow and take specials with their friends.
Some will do worse than just quit school. Kids who are behind in school are under a lot of pressure and some of them get really depressed. Taking away what they are good at and enjoy will do a lot of harm to them emotionally. A lot of kids I know only hang on because they love and are good at their specials.
Kids need to be allowed to be normal. Even if they're not reading or doing math at grade level or can't get a good score on some silly end of year test. Kids need to be allowed to excel at what they're good at.
Mr. Levy, please talk to your teachers and your counselors and academic experts. Talk to parents. Talk to kids like me.
I know you don’t mean it, but what your plan says is kids who struggle with reading and math don't deserve to be enriched and it doesn't matter how depressed they get or if they drop out because their only value is measured by two test scores.
I can’t believe this is even being talked about.
Glad I already graduated.
Feel sorry for the kids like me who are stuck.