“Resignation” by Akua Lezli Hope

Akua Lezli Hope


I cannot justify making students cry,
the disorder is in the system.
Too small to span the keyboard, hands shake trying
behaviors far beyond them in the curriculum.

The disorder is in the system.
They cry with frustration. They must attempt
behaviors far beyond them in the curriculum,
scored on wildly inappropriate assessments.

They cry with frustration. They must attempt
poorly written tests. Their shoulders slump. Some misbehave.
Scored on wildly inappropriate assessments,
teachers are regimented, punished if they deviate.

Children hunt for letters they must attempt
but cannot read. Disorder is in the system.

Poets Respond
November 8, 2015

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Akua Lezli Hope: “This is a found poem, a pantoum-sonnet hybrid, compelled by Wendy Bradshaw’s resignation letter. She recalls the soul-crushing requirements made of students in schools and how the birth of her own child—with its attendant joy, also underscores dread for its future in school. I feel sorrowful that my New York City public school education, in an era before all these civil and civic advancements, before computers, included nine years of French, four years of music theory, nine years of music and art instruction, physics, chemistry, biology, algebra, calculus, geometry, four years of swimming in an Olympic size pool, reasonably sized classes, never mind performances, clubs, and some friendships which have lasted a lifetime. And I considered it all so deeply flawed and wanting as I lived it. Yet much of this is not available to public school students in the 21st century.” (website)

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