"STANDARD." In the last three years that word has such a new meaning for me. I am big on looking impactful words up so when I looked up the word STANDARD, this is its definition according to Webster (and not the lil guy...one of my favorite shows ever) :
: regularly and widely used, seen, or accepted : not unusual or special
: generally accepted and used because of high quality or excellence
: accepted and used by most of the educated speakers and writers of a language
1a :constituting or conforming to a standard especially as established by law or custom <standard weight>
b :sound and usable but not of top quality <standard beef>
2a :regularly and widely used, available, or supplied <standard automobile equipment>
b :well-established and very familiar <the standard opera>
My whole life since I was a child I was told " be unique" dont settle for just the "standards in life!" So, I did just that! I always marched to the beat of my own drum. I didn't settle for any of the definitions above because I was taught by my parents and family to not accept standards. My teachers, instrumental in my life, told me "reach beyond the standards! The world is yours! REACH BEYOND THE STANDARDS!" I grew up in the 70's, a bicentennial baby to be exact, so I know some of the ways of life back then were now considered "far out" & "groovy", but I that was the essence of my entire life! The seed that was planted even back then. To reach beyond standards. Not settle for anything less than I wanted and I took that with me in my whole life thus far.
Now, flash forward to today and the word STANDARD is a common fabric in which our society strives for. Everyone is trying to reach a predetermined standard! A standard of living, standards for eating, standards of body images and stanadrds of Education. We have gone beyond what our own standards may look like. Some guy somewhere is like "This needs to be the standard!" Then everyone follows without a question! Look at multibillion dollar diet industry. One day, dont eat meat. The next its Paleo a meat lovers diet! Standards are now the finish line!
In today's educational system, we have done away in forty-three of our states the ability to be better , individual or unique. Those conversations with educators about going against the grain of standards can literally lead to performance infractions or worse dismissal! If you want your child to be able to develop in an environment of individualism, you will have to pack up house and explain to your employer you are moving to one of the few states who have opted out of these standards and are seeking uniqueness for your child and family! As you walk out the door, chances are they will have no clue what the hell you are talking about! If you are someone flocking to Colorado, they will automatically label your move for something else rather than trying to find "uniqueness!"
Here in NJ over the last twenty years or so we have totally traded in that yester-year mentality of "Seek Individualism!" Our children are being ripped from being individuals to being cultivated by Corporate America, for profit testing companies, technology companies and political investors. They now create the standards! Some frumpy overweight guys onced bullied probably on the school yard for being different. We have seen school districts demolish Creative Arts programs, Physical Education programs, Special Education programs and replace them with more instructional time on test taking in Mathematics and English Language Arts for tests like NJASK and PARCC. Since those are indeed the onky factors we rate achievement. Our own Governor, Chis Christie staunchly faught parents for years who protested for Common Core standards to be obliterated. In just recent weeks for what many are calling an obvious political tactical move as he takes steps for a 2016 Presidential Nomination, has had a sudden change of heart? However, only on the surface. He is still adament about having core standards in our schools and thinks that possibly changing names of these core standards will fake and move his constituents who oppose his efforts and cast a vote for him come 2016. He also persists that standardized tests like the PARCC and relationships with testing companies such as Pearsons move forward. What is his true stake in this all. His own children are not upheld to these standards. They can dream a lil dream. Why can't ours?
Thanks to No Child Left Behind, these standards have left so many of our children just that... behind. Behind the standard of what society tells them they are capable of. A sociecty who as even left our children of Special Needs out of the picture. Making it almost impossible to reach goals for their children. Unable to obtain a dreammof their own and when they don't they are tossed to the waste side. I thought it was NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND right? Instead, what it is doing is systematically weeding out the unique and the individual. The Dreamer. The Pretender. Glorifying the Standard!
Again, sure there should be a standard of achievement, but walk into any classroom...oh wait if you are a parent those days are over! You can no longer just walk into a classroom or a school for that matter. If you could, you would see the faces of those trying to become standard. To fit a mold of someone else's standards. Maybe, standards set up so they will never achieve or standards never meant to achieve when they were created for them. So our future generations of Picasso, Mozart, Maya Angelou, Bosquiat, Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dali, Martin Luther King Jr., and Stevie Wonder will fade until every child is conditioned to want to be standard. To sit in a cubical and to speak from a script. To program from a script without that thought of dreaming to become more than the standard. Out of the box. To color outside the lines.
It is to that child who dares to be different, I dedicate this entry. Standards will not get us in the running of other countires who are leaving us in the dust. It is the dreamer, the pretender, the special child that will propel this country and its future generations of children...not someone elses standard! Look out the window, take a pause and dream the biggest dreams! Be different! Be unique! Be anything but standard!