No Child Left Behind… But I Was: Building My Own Dream

Two Years Ago

An article I wrote in the midst of my anger.

No child left behind, that’s the American scheme” raps Macklemore in Ten Thousand Hours, words that to me, resonated as I drove by the high school I graduated from. 

Eerie that I paid attention to those words at that moment, due to the fact that down those halls I don’t have the greatest memories. No, none of bullying. I have a sense of annoyance with the people we call “counselors”, people who are supposed to help guide kids in graduating and going on to a higher level of education… with a sense of wanting to go forth.

I’ve wanted to go to school ever since I can remember. My parents have a video they love to show people of my 3rd Christmas, in which I asked for a Mickey Mouse book. When I open the present, my eyes light up and I just start yelling, “this is what I wanted!” Of course, at that age, I could not read, but I opened the book and started reading to my mom, making it up as I went along. My parents have a notebook of mine they saved, one from before I went to kindergarten, in which I would just make little circles between the lines. When someone asked me what I was doing, I would reply with “I am writing and go on to read to them the story I was making up. My mother relishes in the fact that at the age of 10, people would tell her that speaking to me was like conversing with an adult. I was mature, ready to listen and give my opinion.

Moving throughout my teen years was hard. Making friends became rough the older I got. Gone were the days where it was easy to go up to someone at recess and say, “do you want to be my friend?”

When my family and I moved to Nevada, I hated going to school. I was bored and felt like I was making no advances educationally (granted, I was in the 8th grade). At the same time, making friends there seemed to be a failure (and I tend to be pretty good with people and am outgoing). In Nevada, I felt lonely. One day, I came home from school and said, “I am the only person in my history class that passed our test”. I had already come home from school complaining about the teachers and the classes, but this said it all for my mother. Then she did the most amazing thing I can ever think of.

She took my sister and I out of school and home schooled us.

Yes, I was a home schooled child.

Only for a year though. Throughout that year, I advanced educationally.

I have never been a math person, but I knew how to slide by those classes. When I was home schooled, my mother began to realize my actual problem and hatred for math. Granted, I still am not fond of math (honestly, who is?) but she and I worked and drilled it. I made more advances in that subject than I had my whole educational life up to that point.

I was only home schooled for a year because I am a people person. I missed being around people that were my age. I lived in a world that was my parents and my sister. My dad then sat us down and told us that my mom, sister and I were moving back to Oregon so that I could go to school. So we were separated from my dad for a while.

It was January when I first arrived to Lake Oswego High School. We moved mid-year so that I could graduate with my friends from home and not repeat a grade. The counselors sat me down and went over my transcripts, trying to figure out where to place me. When it came to math, they put me in Pre-Algebra. By the end of the year, I came out of that class with a 98%. My teacher talked to the counselors and it was set up that I would skip Algebra and go straight to Geometry. I did okay in that subject (but when you are not strong in a subject and happen to get a bad teacher, good luck). Junior year I went on to Algebra 2.

February of my junior year we moved to Indiana.

Counselors went nuts over my transcripts. “Why are you missing your first semester of freshman year? Why are you caught up on your credits though? Why did you skip Algebra?” I explained my situation to them as well as I possibly could. It was all lost though. They weren’t accepting the credits that were waved. In order to graduate from the state of Indiana, my counselors told me that I needed to take Algebra. So when signing up for my senior classes, I was signing up for freshman classes. 

I was fuming. What the hell? I had worked those past 2 years and a half to catch up in order to graduate on time and be able to go to a four year college straight out of high school. The only thing that was my level they let me take was AP English, which I had to fight in order to be in that class.

The funny part was, in order to graduate, I also had to take state testing. Even though I exceeded in both math and English, my counselors still told me I had to take Algebra. They even warned me that I would not be able to apply for any colleges, due to the fact that I was repeating freshman classes, I would not be able to finish off the pre-requisites to apply to any school. I would have to go a year to community college.

In their eyes, I was a statistic.

Here’s my problem:

In order to graduate high school in the state of Oregon, you have to have 4 years of math (Algebra and above). I would have accomplished that if I would have stayed and graduated. In the state of Indiana, you have to have Algebra in the years of your math.

We moved within the same country. I was a good student. Why did it feel like I was moving countries? My cousin in Spain was going through somewhat of the same issue, when the same year I moved to Indiana, she moved to Belgium.

I understand state’s rights, but take a student from the state of Mississippi (ranked the worst state to go to school) moving to New Jersey (ranked the best). Why does a kid because they are born in a certain state not allowed the same free, educational opportunity as another child in a different state? Isn’t that part of the American Dream? Equal opportunity? Or did I mess up the definition of the American Dream within all my moves as well?

No child left behind, that is the American scheme.

Now

How my anger has changed

This is an article I wrote that I never published. I got scared of being judged for my opinion, something I believe now was quite stupid. I grew up in a corporation that tried to make us all guinea pigs, and I was different (as we all are).

America is not the only country with educational problems. Living in France, I have heard many French teachers and students bash their own system. Not any system is perfect, and we see that with occurrences in the world.

If anything though, I am grateful that I lived through that ordeal. Do I still believe I was left behind? Definitely. Do I think there are BIG issues on how America handles certain things? Yes. Why am I grateful? I believe that things happen for a reason. This is an anger I have been dealing with for years, and one that I have finally accepted and moved on from. If I would not have lived through those issues, I do not know if I would be sitting in Paris, having just been accepted into the Sorbonne for my bachelors degree. I would have most likely gone to a university in America and missed out on the amazing experiences and friends I have met.

Accepted

I still believe America needs to confront its education problem (one of many), and I still highly agree with the article I wrote two years ago. I was left behind, but instead, I am building my own dream.

Besos, 

Veronica

3 thoughts on “No Child Left Behind… But I Was: Building My Own Dream

  1. Very well written! Thanks for sharing! There seems to be more importance given to the number of credits and grades than to actual education..

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