At the last class, we completed a poverty simulation. Everyone was split into different families, with scenarios of which to participate. Expectations were clear and we all had to be active participants in the project.
I was part of the Collins family, and played Ernest. This character lost his job as an electrician and was on track to complete his BA. His wife had a full-time job at a bank, and the couple had three children. Also, Ernest’s nephew from Texas, lived with them. He was seventeen.
My group read over the scenarios and we carefully budgeted our money. The first week, everything seemed to go OK. However, we accidentally left our money on the table, and $500 of that was stolen by different people in the room. The loss of money did not allow us to pay bills and unexpected emergencies that occurred. We had to go on a payment plan with the bill department, and by the next month, we owed hundreds of dollars.
Overall, the poverty simulation allowed me to think about what many of my families might experience daily. Emotions that ran through me included frustration, hopelessness and anxiety. Toward the end of class, we had a group discussion where I reflected on the experience and how to move forward. One person mentioned this: what is one thing I can do tomorrow to help a student, to bring hope? At times, school might be the only safe-haven in a student’s life and what can I do to provide that refuge? I’ve thought about some ideas, and it’s now to go forth and continue to do good for my community.
During the winter break, I delved more into the text for the critical issues course. After completing the book, there were some questions I had:
- To what extent do administrators handle critical issues daily? The case studies in the book seemed very extreme and how could one person not tackle the issue with common sense?
The case studies brought up a number of topics that were and were not familiar to me. I have thought about how I would react to the situations and reviewed questions posed at the end of each case study. I pondered the issue at hand, and everything went back to this: What is the process that will provide a safe learning environment for students?
One case study that made me really reflect was 3.5: Teacher With A Handgun-The Right To Bear Arms, Protecting Students And School Policy. I can sympathize (not empathize) with Jenna’s fear, abusive past and concern with lack of proper safety features in the town and school. I was appalled that the administrator appeared to attempt to cover up the situation, as well as surprised how vague the policies about firearms on school grounds were and Jenna’s belief it was her duty to protect her students with a firearm so much she would have it in school if a situation was that dire.
Days after reading this case study, I still think about it. There are various factors that must be addressed:
- Policy of firearms on and off school property. This needs to be reviewed and/or revised and information disseminated to the appropriate stakeholders
- Poor infrastructure of the buildings: Can anything be done to make the buildings more secure in case of an emergency?
- Moral compass of the administrator (lack-there-of)