“This is an FBQ conversation,” she begins. And her artistry, backed by data, emphasizes the urgency.
The urgency. It is mid-October, and I’ve seen my principal cry too many times in the course of twelve months.
The urgency of children who have escaped a war zone, who have traveled on three city buses to escape their neighborhood school, who have escaped poverty with our food bank, to be on the tips of our tongues as we sit in the come-down-to-Jesus choir room, AKA, staff meeting with bad news.
This isn’t the day after the election when our hijab-wearing girls were too fearful to take a bus to school, when our students of color were threatened by now-openly-racist citizens, when we were lost souls in a city school surrounded by bigotry.
This isn’t the almost-there rating of last year when we met in our usual fourth floor, everything’s-going-to-be-fine lunchroom location.
This is a Friday-the-thirteenth, tell-it-like-it-is, FBQ meeting. The urgent meeting.
We face ourselves and then each other. Is it you? Is it me? Is it them? Is it us?
We argue in the hallway after, fuck the contract hours on a Friday afternoon when we’re supposed to be at FAC. “You know those charter schools eliminate kids left and right. One infraction, gone. SPED? Gone. Detention for forgetting a pencil and you don’t show up? Gone. Charter schools in the poor neighborhoods? Don’t even try to argue, I looked at all the scores last night. RED.”
We are ourselves, wholly ourselves, and we promise to honor her FBQ request.
But this room will be on our minds for the weekend, for the week, for the rest of the year. This conversation, this seeking of solutions. This, what-did-we-do-wrong-this-time question that sits at the back of our minds every damn day when kids don’t show up, when kids say, “Fuck this class,” when kids come crying about their dying mothers, their far-from-home brothers, when kids wish nothing more than one percentage point higher than what they have earned.
“Can we turn the qualitative values of this school–I mean, look how many of you are wearing purple today–into something quantitative?”
FBQ: Family, Be Quiet.
I want to stand up and shout: You can’t measure this. You can’t quantitatively, statistically, mathematically, measure the amount of emotion that drips down her cheeks, that causes me to clench my fists and hold back my own tears, that makes us question the very effort and belief system we put in place with every moment of every lesson we work so hard to place before them.
You cannot measure, quantitatively, LOVE.
Family, Begin Questioning.
1) Why do we vilify teachers?
2) Why do we blame students?
3) Why do we quantify humans?
I want to change her acronym. I want to change them all. To mesh the SLO with the CLO, to move LEAP into SIOP, to blend FAC with FBQ. I want to change colors from yellow to green to the beautiful blue sky that hovers over my beautiful school, with its red-yellow leaves just making that blue pop like a world you’ve yet to see.
Because you can’t quantify love. And isn’t that what matters?