This runs deep to who I was and eventually have become.
I was primarily raised by my mother who has mental illness, with my father's family trying to help whenever they could after my dad died. My siblings and I were less than kind to each other since our immediate example was not a healthy one and there was no one refereeing us (think Lord of the Flies). Unfortunately this left each of us vulnerable to one limiting...thing… or another; which for me was my unfulfilled desire to be a full-fledged, multi-media artist; in the performing and visual arts. Throughout grammar school I won awards for drawing and traditional art. Once in middle-school I discovered music and in high school it was acting. I was always in the "smart" classes and we treated as tomorrow's leaders. However, since I had no one to guide me at home, and my siblings (both are older than me), were acting out their own issues, discouragement was visceral. As a result, I became very unfocused, easily distracted, got involved with some wrong elements and eventually dropped out of college. I went back a few times, but in each instance I changed majors, schools, and then life interfered.
At this point I'm, a computer help desk analyst at a law firm and believe enormously in multiple intelligences. I am a mother of two, with a 22 year old son who in the third grade we found out has dyslexia, but at about the age of 4 had a tested i.q. of 121 with an abstract visual thinking score of 141, and so I fought for his right to be educated according to his strengths and for literacy. The NYC public school system said he was entitled to an "appropriate education," which translated into special education warehousing, or failing him through all programs they had available in order for him to qualify for Carter funding if I chose to go that route. This was my on-the-ground education into education theory and advocacy (I later took a couple of education courses at Kingsboro Community College), and when I began to learn what it means to guide a youngster. My seven year old has far fewer challenges.
My husband is now a teacher who was tracked for a vocational education, but despite some overtly disparaging treatment in grammar school, found his way into and finishing college. The contradiction is that he believes college isn't for everyone, and I think that it is a necessary foundation. Both of us agree that having an education does not mean you're smart.
What I find now is elitism in nearly all corners of society. Without a college degree, my views, my findings, research and insights are dismissed as non-credible musings and I have no place at the table when serious discussions about things I have deep passion and valid knowledge about take place in the community. Often, I find suggestions I made that were ignored, later implemented because someone with the right credentials suggested them. Likewise, over the years I have had job opportunity after job opportunity closed to me, despite having a resume that lacks only a college degree, whereas my experience far out-paces those with certifications. There is a huge squandering of human capital that is systemic, frustrates me beyond words, and dare I say, classist.
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