Today was my first day back at school after break. It is amazing how disconnected I can become from my community in just a short amount of time. I am using the term community somewhat loosely here. I just mean the people that I run into every day. The people whose paths cross my own on my way to class. The people who have the same study spots as I do. I quickly forget all the problems of the world when they are no longer thrown in my face.
While I was waiting at the bus stop, there was another man waiting there as well. A young man. Probably not even my age yet, but definitely older than 18. He was completely illiterate. The only reason I say this is because working with immigrant students last semester that barely spoke English, I picked up on some of the "tricks" that they used to get information from people.
He had been standing at the bus stop, looking at the schedule, before I got there. But when I did arrive, and also looked at the schedule, he asked me when the bus was coming.
This is not the first time that I have encountered a person that could not read numbers, or figure out a simple time chart. The area of the city that I live in is filled with East African immigrants who have come to the US within the last five years, or maybe only three months. But there are also just a lot of poor people. I don't think that this man was an immigrant. His English, while grammatically incorrect, contained no accent.
I realize that this may sound judgmental, but this is just what went through my mind. After my eyes were opened to the millions of people with low literacy skills, it seems that I cannot escape it.
Every time something about education gets brought up I get angry. I wish that I could change it. I can't believe how amazingly stupid the system is. I just don't know how any one could even possibly think that it is working!
I am starting to realize where my passions are.
Maybe I shouldn't "give up my ideals and live in the real world." Maybe I should introduce the world to my ideals. Work for something that I actually care about.
I just worry that it would completely take over my life. When I am passionate about something, I can have difficulty in expressing it. I can get so frustrated and flustered that I don't even know how to form the words to say what I feel. But I can't just sit by and watch this country drag the education of its children through the mud.
Do you know that Minnesota is really up there for "good education?" We have one of the highest graduation rates. We also have one of the highest achievement gaps. That basically means that mostly white students succeed, and students of color do not. The gap refers to this difference. Students in certain areas are not given the same benefits as students that live in other areas. How can anyone change their life for the better when they aren't given the opportunity?!
I don't even know what kinds of jobs are out there that would allow me to follow this passion that aren't simply volunteer jobs, since there are virtually no nonprofit organizations hiring. And I think I need a little workplace experience before I reform the school system in America :)