Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. It involves family and friends and is rather unassuming, tucked between the shenanigans of Halloween and the solemn, yet frenetic, Christmas rush.
We especially remember those suffering loss today. The tables that aren’t whole due to empty chairs.
Loss is a burden on a day to give thanks. How does one give thanks when they are not thankful? I don’t really know. I think you have to rely on hope.
Hope is all we’ve got when things aren’t going well.
Thanksgiving is like a great public school because it’s for everyone. Even when schools and family dynamics aren’t working right, many of us still have hope that someday they will.
Great public schools welcome every child, even if all that child has got is hope. Hope reigns supreme for students who enter a public school with problems.
Public schools might be the only hope a poor family has to help their children out of poverty.
Great public schools don’t reject immigrants. People who come here, like my Hungarian grandparents, see a great America as giving them hope for a good life. Even with all America’s faults.
Nor do great public schools turn anyone away due to the color of their skin, their culture, or the religion they profess. Everyone is welcome to the table in a great public school.
I put “great” in front of public schools in this post, because not all public schools are great these days.
Our public schools are divided, defunded, and many are charters, splintered unproven online programs, that tear us apart as people.
In some schools, students are rejected for failing and denied the right to school if their family doesn’t measure up, or if they have mental health or behavioral problems.
Teachers are not always treated kindly, though they should sit at the head of the table. Sometimes parents are ignored, even though the school is about their children.
Instruction might be regimented and not in tune with the differences children bring to school.
Our schools have been under attack by commercialism, just like Thanksgiving!
Great public schools teach children with difficult developmental disabilities. They help children learn how to eat, how to walk, and how to talk.
Teachers rely on a great deal of hope for students. So do parents.
Great public schools welcome students no matter their level of academic difficulties. They challenge the smarter “than anyone can believe” kids too. They recognize the difficulties these children also face.
Great public schools don’t just accept students, they put them together in one great big melting pot, so children see differences and know that tolerance is a virtue that will serve them well in the future.
Thanksgiving is like that when we welcome family and friends.
I know people who have huge gatherings, and I know families that have smaller get-togethers.
We all know funny relatives, sad friends and family, and irritating people who drive us up the wall. But there we all are on Thanksgiving, trying to get along, eating pumpkin pie, the gluten free kind too.
Great public schools give teachers the resources so they can reach children and teens and help them to feel wanted and loved no matter their differences.
Thanksgiving means we sit at a table and eat food which brings us together.
Maybe, like in the great 1990 movie Avalon, a family member rejects your Thanksgiving table because once you started the meal before they arrived. All you can do is have hope that family member will come around again. Like we hope those Americans who do not see the value in public education will come around.
Thanksgiving involves the differences that are priceless and make us great, like public schools.
In public schools, standards that make children common or force them into sameness won’t make us great. They stifle the future.
The values that great public schools provide don’t come from canned programs to teach values. Our students are smarter than that.
Values come from the interactions that great schools provide. They involve teachers and parents standing up for what’s right and demonstrating to students that sometimes it is a tough road…but still the right one.
Truth will hopefully win.
Just like the family gatherings, it is important to lift students so they can see the potential of who they are…just because.
Everyone celebrates Thanksgiving. It is about family and friends. It is about being grateful for all that we have and those who have helped us throughout the years. Those relationships are more important than ever today. Just as our public schools should bring us together.
If your Thanksgiving isn’t great this year, maybe it will be better next year.
If public schools are not succeeding, we must lift them and make them the best of what America is, because they are where our children will design our future.
Have hope this Thanksgiving! There’s always hope. Peace!