Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hooper: Schools are burning, with most kids left behind

The schoolhouse has begun to burn, slowly but steadily.

The kids wonder what will happen to them.

And then a man steps into the classroom. He points to little Johnny and asks him to stand up.

"Johnny, your parents want the choice to send you to a different school," the man says. "They have filled out the paperwork, so you can leave and go to the private school on the other side of town.

"On your way out, make sure you pick up a check for $5,000."

A look of bewilderment grows over the kids who remain in the class. Little Sally politely raises her hand and asks, "How come Johnny gets to leave but we have to stay?"

The man smiles and says, "Johnny's parents are engaged and truly concerned about his education. They believe in choice, so he gets to leave."

Sally responds: "My mama cares. But she's working two jobs and she doesn't have time to come down to the school.

"My older sister watches me at night because my mama is at work. But she cares. She said the law guarantees me a good education."

Little Mary chimes in: "Instead of letting people leave this school, why don't you put out the fire?"

The man explains to Mary that he and his friends will do everything they can to put out the fire, but in the meantime, some select students will get to leave and go to the private school down the street.

Another student asks a question. Little Jimmy says his teacher told him she could put out the fire if she didn't have to spend so much time worrying about the FCAT and paperwork and new standards.

The man tells Jimmy he shouldn't listen to that teacher's excuses. He insists she can do both. He explains that every teacher must be held accountable.

Jimmy asks, "Do the teachers at the private school have to worry about the FCAT?"

"No they don't," said the man, growing agitated. "But they have tests and they do a better job than your teachers."

"How do you know that if they don't have to teach to the test?" Jimmy asks.

Now little Robert, who had his head on his desk, perks up. He says to the man, "I guess that's why they don't have fires at the private school."

Mary chimes in again. "I think you should just put out the fire. Then you won't have to send kids to the private school."

The man explains again that they're doing all they can to put out the fire. He says they have long meetings in Tallahassee about how to put out the fire. He shares with the students that it takes a lot of money to put out the fire.

Sally asks, "But if you need money to put out the fire, why are you letting Johnny leave with a check for $5,000?"

The man says, "Good question. The more students who leave this school, the more pressure we put on the teachers, principals and administrators to put out the fire."

Sally responds: "That doesn't seem fair. You tell them to put out the fire, but you don't give them the money they need to put it out? Do you give them water?"

"Okay, that's enough from you," says the man.

Mary chimes in again: "You should just put out the fire."

As the kids grow more restless, little Robert — now wide awake — raises his hand.

"I've got a question," he says to the man. "Do you really want to put out the fire? Or do you want the school to burn down?"

The man grimaces and walks out, leaving the kids to wonder if anyone will ever put out the fire.

That's all I'm saying.

Hooper: Schools are burning, with most kids left behind 04/09/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 12:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Datz to open in St. Petersburg, join the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art

    Food & Dining

    Now Datz news.

    Get it? Tuesday, Datz, the longtime line-out-the-door, oft-Instagrammed and -Yelped Tampa stalwart known for shock-and-awe sandwiches and oh-so-much bacon, announced it is coming to St. Petersburg.

    Lunch guest eat at Datz Deli at 2616 South MacDill Ave. in Tampa. Times files.
  2. Republican leader McConnell pulls the plug on latest Obamacare repeal effort

    WASHINGTON --- Sen. Mitch McConnell on Tuesday officially pulled the plug on the latest plan to repeal the health care law, telling senators they will not vote on the measure and effectively admitting defeat in the last-gasp drive to fulfill a core promise of President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, after the Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as education secretary. DeVos was approved by the narrowest of margins, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 tie in a historic vote. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) DCSA119
  3. Lightning's Brayden Point could be perfect fit alongside Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov

    Lightning Strikes

    SUNRISE — Brayden Point ended last season as the Lightning's No. 1 center, thrust into the role as a rookie due to injuries.

    Lightning center Brayden Point (21) advances the puck through the neutral zone during Friday's preseason game against the Nashville Predators. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  4. For starters: Rays at Yankees, with Blake Snell starting, Wilson Ramos cashing in

    Blogs

    The Rays open their final road series of the season tonight at Yankee Stadium, which is also where they played their first of the season.

    LHP Blake Snell will be on the mound for the Rays, looking to continue his successful late-season run, in which he is 4-0, 2,57 over his last eight starts.

    Tonight marks Wilson Ramos' 55th start of the season.
  5. Cannon Fodder podcast: Considering Gerald McCoy's comments

    Bucs

    Greg Auman talks about Gerald McCoy's comments — both about fan criticism online and Donald Trump — in the latest episode of our Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Gerald McCoy, front, said Monday that he would love to have a conversation with any of the fans who take to social media to criticize him and his Bucs teammates. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]