With a little, we can do a lot

(I want to start this by saying I felt super tech-savvy when originally writing this blog post, because I didn’t write down my ideas. I put them into a recorded evernote in my car while parked outside the cat shelter where I volunteer, so I could transcribe it later on my computer.)

It’s a tough world for education these days. Everywhere we turn, it seems like teachers and the educational system are under attack. We have things like value-added measurement, the loss of tenure (which many people still seem to think is a get-out-of-firing-for-free card when really it means that teachers have the right to due process), and political figures such as Scott Walker slashing educational budgets left and right. It seems like there are many people out there who don’t want our schools to succeed.

But right now is one of those times where I can smile and say, YES, people do care. Lots of people care. If you don’t already follow Humans of New York (the blog or on facebook,) you need to. It will bring a smile to even your darkest days. HONY, as it’s called, is a photojournalism project by a guy named Brandon who photographs, well, people of New York. About a week ago he posted this story about a student named Vidal:

vidal-hony

And it went viral. Being an educator, of course I hit ‘like’ and ‘share’ as fast as I could. Since I’m in the system, I know there are people out there who bust their butts every single day in the hardest, most poverty-stricken districts in the country to try to help even just one kid. But we educators can’t do it by ourselves; we need buy-in from parents, community leaders, politicians, everyone.

What gives me hope is seeing that HONY created a fundraiser for Ms. Lopez’s school, Mott Hall Bridges Academy, to give her students – rather, her scholars – a chance to get out of the projects and see what it’s like at an Ivy League college. For kids who have to worry that they might not make it through high school, this is a pretty big deal. And the world came through for them. When I made my original note-to-self on Saturday, the original goal had been met by about 3,000 backers. At the time of this writing, there have been over 30,000 donations for over $1 million. Most donations aren’t that big – $5, $10, $25. The same thing happened last summer with Reading Rainbow’s kickstarter fund, eventually raising over $5M (with another $1M matched by Seth MacFarlane, who for all his low-brow jokes and toilet humor, clearly cares about education).

Now, don’t get me wrong – I think it’s kind of ridiculous that schools are forced to ask for donations through Indiegogo, Kickstarter, or Donors Choose, but it makes my heart smile that through the power of the internet, these services can even exist. Nobody is going to fundraise for my classroom because my kids have plenty of opportunity. These fundraisers serve our most critically at-risk groups of students, and it shows that if everyone gives just a little, we can do a lot. I can afford $5 here and there to help out someone else. None of us can do it alone, but if I give $5, and you give $5, and she gives $5, and they give $5, pretty soon $5 from 1,000 people will go far.

When we work together, we can make a big difference. To donate to Mott Hall Bridges Academy, please click here.

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