Heather L. Barmore
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    Change In Action at Babble Voices

    Sunday
    Oct112015

    For 62 Million Girls 

    My high school portrait"I raise up my voice not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. We cannot succeed when half of us are held back" - Malala Yousafzai 
    My educational history is rather pedestrian and I am going to bore you with the details. You have been warned and you are welcome.

    I failed math. Multiple times. I am literally unable to do algebra. With little to no interest in the absolutes of math and science my misery in those subjects were balanced by my excelling in the social sciences. There were the AP classes and tests and the crossing of appendages upon receiving my scores. I skipped whatever caused me heartache and threw my all into advanced studies of American public policy. Even then, my AP European History teacher suggested that perhaps I should try to apply myself and, you know, do some work. My music teacher said the same and my English teacher. Oh, my Spanish teacher as well. See? Typical teenage inability to focus and want to do anything that doesn’t involve sleeping and silently cursing one’s classmates. When it came to college I got into my first choice school, in my first choice city. By the end of my senior year of college I had amassed so many credits that I studied and mastered my long golf game for four credits and my spring semester was spent shopping my way through Spain.

    I’m trying to remember the exact timing of things but it had to be sometime at the start of college when my mother gifted me a copy of Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequalities. Have you read it? It’s a disturbing masterpiece. An unfortunate telling of the educational disparities across this country. Disparities which fall across socioeconomic and racial lines. While I went along with my rather boring but blissful education in the excellent public schools of Upstate New York. As I complained my way through college-level microeconomics there were students, a mere 151 miles away, students who looked just like me, with the same brown skin, students who, by no fault of their own, were struggling to get a basic education.

    In New York State in 2002.

    Hell, in New York State in 2015.

    Anyway, I read Jonathan Kozol and subsequently committed myself to a career in politics focusing on education policy. Specifically the failed attempts at educational parity across New York State and across the country.

    It’s not as if this story ends on some miraculous, happy note where the achievement gap closes and we all go home giving fist bumps and high fives to educators around the country. One of the joys of being a global citizen and awareness is realizing that the inequities here are not endemic to the United States as I write this and relive my own academic career there are 62 million girls around the world who are unable to attend school. 62 million girls who will continue a cycle of poverty in nations that struggle with achieving true democracy without education the girls and young women who are the cornerstones of strong nations and economies. 62 million girls for whom education, exceptionalism and freedom is unattainable.

    I have seen this with my own eyes.

    I have read the words of Malala Yousafszai, watched her interviews and had tears fill my eyes during a screening of He Named Me Malala* and do so with the privilege of knowing that my academic ‘failures’ were barely setbacks. I received an education and the support of parents who had previously resided in some of the worst school districts in the country but were able to guide me through my own path.

    Not every brown girl across this country or world has that. I am a rarity with my college courses and superb golf game and tailored resume proudly proclaiming my alma mater. I have all of these things and yet 62 million girls will struggle and put their lives on the line for the same.

    I said that my education is pedestrian. But it isn’t. I have enjoyed the privilege of an excellent education. One that afforded me the ability to sit here and write these words on behalf of the little girls who have been told they cannot.

    There are 62 million girls who would love to tell the story of their failed attempts at mathematics. My passion for education policy is to speak for them and share their stories not just today on the Day of the Girl but everyday.


    *For parents who are reluctant to take their child(ren) to see the film, I encourage you to take a peek at the parental discussion guide.
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    selamat hari ibu

    May 14, 2016 | Unregistered Commenteragus

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