Saturday, February 26, 2011

Deference in Santa Fe, and Baby Approaches

How shall I briefly sum up my disappointment and exasperation at the winter meeting of the Fine Arts Education Act conference in Santa Fe, a gathering of arts teachers from all over New Mexico to share lesson plans, and how to "sell" (a verb I heard ubiquitously for 48 hours) art education even though art is in fact mandated by federal law as a core component of public education, and ruefully discussing the latest developments of the legislative session taking place only blocks away at the Roundhouse. How many of us passing lesson plans around did so with no confidence we would even be teaching art next fall?

What was getting under my skin? The deferential tone of the whole proceedings. The focus on learning how to function as art teachers within a dysfunctional system, and absolutely no talk of working to upend the system.

Even when an official from one district summed up the entire absurd basis of No Child Left Behind's logic, the approaching day when no school will make AYP any longer.

Still, this deferential tone. Was I the only one who noticed the interesting irony that so many of our workshops and meetings took place in basement level conference rooms and auditoriums? Deference! While the arts as a core of public education was being left to die in a large, open, public space a short walking distance away from us, we the big brave arts educators scheduled our lamentations and eulogies below street level, hissing at each other underground.

Heaven forfend we annoy the lawmakers.


During a meeting of the New Mexico Advisory Council on Arts Education, which was taking place -- that's right -- in the basement of the New Mexico Museum of Art, my wife called to tell me she was on the way to the hospital. She was going into early labor and the doctor wanted to put a stop to it if she could.

The pregnancy is barely at 36 weeks. The hospital worked hard to give baby Lucca one more week, at the very least, to develop stronger lungs and prepare for life out here in the burning house. They kept her overnight (as I drove with all speed for 300 miles across New Mexico) and gave her a prescription to put the pause button on the whole process. We are home, taking it easy, paying attention to each moment with Sarah's bag packed.


Kelly said...

I've been paying closer attention to the state of education in this country as my younger daughter plots and plans her future. She's currently working on a Master's and was hoping to go on for her PhD with an end result of teaching on the university level. She's having second thoughts. She's an academic at heart, but is growing disillusioned by much of what she's seeing in the future of education.

Praying for Sarah and the baby. And you, too, of course.

Pam said...

Yes, prayers for Sarah and little Lucca! (LOVE the name!)

I, too, am disgusted and, frankly, aghast at the current direction of our state and country's educational system.

Don't even get me started....

Debby said...

I am taking note of the fact that you have not had a blog post since February 28th, and hope that this does not mean anything.