Wilfredo Santos Rivera speaks at the 2012 Martin Luther King Program at Temple B'nai Israel
Wilfredo Santos Rivera recently made a speech suggesting that Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) are not doing everything possible to insure the success of the students. Part of the problem I have with it is that Mr. Santos Rivera, a former member of the OKCPS school board, seemed to bypass the fact that No Child Left Behind is a very costly failure. The schools are being judged according to a system that is fatally flawed. I don’t understand how Mr. Santos-Rivera can blame the school board when the same problems we have here in Oklahoma City exist all across the country.
He seems to think that by working together, the Jewish, Black and Hispanic communities can change the outcome for thousands of students. But are we really working together, or just leaving it up to the school board and Janet Barresi to fix what is broken?
Are we going to leave the fate of our children up to a group of narcissistic politicians?
How are we supposed to promise our students a bright future when millions of jobs are leaving the country on a regular basis? Where are they supposed to find a job when they graduate?
My friend seems to think that all this suffering is going to make us stronger. Is that what always happens? Did the Jews who were sent to concentration camps get stronger? I thought most of them died. Do soldiers who fight wars get stronger? I thought they came home with post traumatic stress disorder. Do people who have to work 16 hours a day get stronger? I thought they died young.
My friend seems to have this romantic idea that suffering makes us special. If so, there are billions of people all over the world, living in abject poverty, who must be very special.
Yes, once in a while somebody like the incredibly talented Tyler Perry manages to fight his way out of poverty. But does that mean that the masses can do it?
I am a teacher and a mentor. I tell my students and my mentees that if they work hard, they can succeed. Am I lying?
What are we doing to make sure the next generation has a shot at the American dream? These are not rhetorical question. We all need to roll up our sleeves and work like dogs if we want our children and grandchildren to have the same opportunities we had. Are we doing that?
There are lots of things we could do, like lower the cost of college. But where are we supposed to get the money to do this when millionaires pay a lower tax rate than school custodians?
While I honestly think that Mr. Santos Rivera has actively tried to do his part to make the schools better, I don’t think that the average citizen has done the same, unless they happen to have a child in a particular school at the time. These are all our schools, folks, and they are all our children.
If you have an idea for how to fix this problem, please state it in the comment section below. Then make a list of steps that need to be taken to effect the change you suggest, and start making them. Just talking about this over a cup of tea is not going to change matters. Positive change takes dedication and determination. Are you ready?
Note: Mr. Santos Rivera’s speech can be found at: http://www.willyandjoe.com/