“We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.” -President Barack Hussein Obama, 2013 Inaugural Speech
I don’t need to see repeated statistics to be reminded that we are so far from that day. To be reminded that actually, if you are born in certain places and go to certain schools and look certain ways then your “chance” of that success is rather dismal. Everyday, those of us in the midst of the messy, frustrating, fighting, and sometimes beautiful world of schools feel the distance to that day, and we feel the pain that comes from stretching and reaching and sometimes climbing and sometimes falling.
It is reassuring to hear someone, to hear our elected President, remind us as a nation that a powerful and meaningful education for all is our public duty and everyone’s right. In the past four years, Obama hasn’t always acted in ways that, in my mind, stand by that sentiment, but I believe that he meant what he said. I have to and do believe that he does in fact want every child to be able to enroll in a school that is safe, exciting, and full of productive learning. I have to and do believe that he does want children born anywhere, and into any situation, to be given the tools they need to read, invent, and innovate.
I am lucky to know so many teachers, so many people, who everyday are working towards this piece of our creed. I look forward to seeing how Obama continues his part throughout the next four years.
“It is not on you to finish the task, but neither are you free to avoid trying.” -Rabbi Tarfon, Pirkei Avot 2:21