Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Local matters

The cherry blossom petals are gently falling now, as the faint fragrance and pink light give way to the green leaves. After the burst of sex, the trees get down to the business of living.

As old as I am compared to my students, I've only lived two extra years for each one of theirs, plenty of time to collect scars and wrinkles and gray hair, but not nearly enough time to pretend I've learned anything they do not already know, except that they, too, will be surprised at the older face staring back at them in the morning mirror.

One of my students was surprised to learn today that I had dissected a cadaver, that I had seen many people die, that all this is expected for anyone in medicine. Death still surprises them.

Death still surprises me, truth be told, but it's no longer novel.

The cherry blossoms, too, surprise me. They are exuberant beyond imagination. I cling to my incomplete memory of them every February, My catechism: Does spring exist? Yes, it does, and it will return to reign the Earth. Amen.

And each spring, we are blessed, again.

When I was a child, two things mattered--the weather report, and the tide table. I got real busy raising a couple of kids, and the weather reports and the tide tables no longer mattered. They matter again.

I suspect they always mattered.

New Jersey just signed up for  the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test. You won't find tide tables on a standardized test. Too parochial, too provincial. PARCC is part of Achieve, an organization supporting corporate interests "to make college and career readiness a national priority."

They don't pay our bills here--my salary is paid by my neighbors. They don't know about the cherry trees on Liberty, the turkeys that showed up on the Green a couple of years ago, the lichen on the ledge of our century old high school building.  They don't know about our children, nor, quite frankly, care about them, either.

I'd daresay most members of Achieve couldn't pass their own algebra test.

This is bull crap.

Local matters matter. We know this even if suits who gladly pull stakes and move from state to state dragging their itinerant clans about for the sake of "national priority" do not.

The Victory statue is ours, the photo borrowed from the NY Times--click on photo for link.
The cherry blossoms are from BranchBrook Park last spring, via

Schools are for our children, for our towns.


Tom Hoffman said...

Reminds me of the The Angel of U┼żupis. You'd like their constitution, too.

doyle said...

Dear Tom,

You have an amazing eye (to match your amazing mind).

I'm going to share that constitution with a few senior high school students who are ragged with exhaustion.

People are, for the most part, decent. This is a great reminder.