The Sad Choice

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

Yesterday turned into today. A lot in education reaches inside me and disturbs my gut whether it is good or bad, so I decided it’s time to write about it:

I stand between

two lives.

Not the kind

of which

people gossip,

or the life and

death cliché.

I cannot decide

which way to

roll the dice

for the teacher

or the writer.

For two years,

I kept my hands

in both jars

hoping to dig

out the answer.

Retired teachers

reach the finish


they ran their race.

No longer the


first year who plans

to change a life.

They do their best

to make a difference.

The tests come.


kicked out.

Teach them the test,

and forget the rest.

“Write to the test,

Understand history

to a test, and

the math of a test.”

Ask next, “How do we

build a car engine?”

or “What is AP style

versus creative content?”

Punched in the stomach

when a kid said, “We’ll

go to the same

high school,

except for those who fail.”

The boy looks down.

He knows

more than

some will fail.

Make all As.

Fail the test.

The teacher’s fault.

Sue the school.

District, dust over

the tracks

of those

who think

you did wrong.

What happens next?

Give kindergarten kids

math assessments.

Take up their pencils

for the following

twelve years to

erase how to think.

Students’ voices,

teachers’ fears;

always someone blaming

while the other

warns teachers

not to talk.

“Be careful

of your opinions.”

A student could shove you.

You end up fired.

The tests do not look good.

Your salary is cut.

The teacher feeds children, too.

More and more,

they lose their time

and pay is cut again.

So I think I’ll stay closer

to the writer’s side

where someone still

shouts for,

not at,

the teacher.




4 thoughts on “The Sad Choice

    1. I love children. I respect teachers in a time when they are being attacked through the successors of No Child Left Behind, which is a part of what governs the testing standards. In my second year of high school, I failed the math portion of the state test. I proceeded to the next grade level, but because I failed the math portion of the test I was not accepted into the Governors School of the Arts for Writing. I know what these kids from K to college and beyond are going through. I know this is a long response. I’ll probably write about education from time to time. I am just as passionate about it.

      You’re right. Writers, most of the time, are more than one thing. It needs to be that way other wise what would we have to write about? We can’t all become Jane Austen. 🙂

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