I'm not a runner. There, I said it. I used to run, or jog, if you will, when I was younger and I've always wanted to be a real-life honest to goodness runner. Someone who could run for miles and miles and feel the exhilaration and and purity of the sport.
I've found myself daydreaming lately of really running. Going outside, alone, and running for miles and miles and miles. What I've noticed about these daydreams is that they often come after a conversation like the one I had yesterday with my friend Mindy who walks with me in the mornings.
She had gone to visit some teachers at the schools in West Dallas and the report she gave was overwhelming.
The teachers' comments were all similar. 'Your student is under performing and reading below grade level but probably average for the class. She tries really hard so I'm going to give her a 90%.' Essentially, I'm going to pass her because she tries hard. She is not mastering the basic fundamentals of the class, and that's average. She's not reading where she should be but, because she's trying, she'll get an A.
It's called a social promotion and it happens all the time. If teachers didn't do this, it would create a "bottleneck" in the system and there would be too many kids in one class. That's changing some because of the TAKS tests but prior to the 11th grade, if a parent and teacher agree that the child is "ready to move on" despite a failure to master the ciriculum, that child is promoted to the next grade.
That's a giant problem in itself without all the extraneous circumstances that come with being a part of the urban generationally poor.
Studies have shown over and over that if a child is not having his basic needs met, food, clothing, shelter, and safety, they cannot perform in school. Not even the basics.
The problem goes so much deeper than a lack of concern for education.
How is a child who hasn't eaten dinner the night before supposed to perform on math drills? How can a child who is being raped by his eleven year old brother supposed to learn to read on grade? When the police have come to your house three times in a week, learning science can be more than frustrating.
The problem has rooted itself in the soil of indifference, hopelessness, injustice, and apathy. We see another generation of children following, if unknowingly, in the footsteps of their parents who were often only children when they had them.
I think when I daydream about running, it's to get out, to escape, to not deal with the cobweb of mess that exists here. I can't untangle it and it frustrates me.
My hope is that instead, I will fall on my face daily before a holy, sovereign God who tells me things like this...
"...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning it's shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."