The square


of a first grader is


Children added and calculated.


Divided and multiplied.

Squared and halved.

Into tiny



An arm here.

A leg there.

A brain incised and gouged out

with a serrated equation.

Standard No.1.OA4:








Put it together.



Without your arm.

Or your leg.

Or your brain.

After you have been made 1/5 the sum of who you once were.

And when it’s over,


all   will  be

tiny numbers



into dividends of other


You add up


me, and they add up

into we.

Running     numbers,



Groups of future tax brackets.


I sat to write an essay this evening on the current school board election that is currently in full swing in my city. And instead this poem came out. All of my frustration for my kids and how they are boxed, tagged, and numbered without any real representation of them or their abilities. Just tests. Standards. 504’s. IEP’s. A future tax payer. Global contributor. Economy booster.

But really, they’re my sons.




10 thoughts on “D/ATA

  1. It’s up to the parents to counter the disinformation. My parents taught me to work hard, do the work, complete the homework, ace the marks… learn, learn, learn… and not believe a word of it. It was just a game within a game.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you. I constantly remind my sons that I’m not at all concerned with their test scores. As long as they try hard, that’s all that I care about. I don’t have a problem with the content, I just care about how tested and reduced to a number they are.


  2. I just had this discussion with a Romanian mom a couple days ago at the playground. She’s concerned her 7-year-old has too much homework and he is getting stressed out about the academic competitions (Olympiad) he has at school and is not enjoying learning. He’s being turned-off by learning. It’s not just America. And it all comes down to tax brackets and future productivity? Arck! Maddening. Your poem is compelling and just what I was mulling over the last few days, but much more eloquent. Just the right ‘essay’ that needed to be written.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love the poem. When my daughter was in first grade, I remember being very frustrated that the school system was not actually geared to the fact that it was for children. That suddenly they were expected to be tiny adults. I also had a lot of frustration because my daughter’s teacher wondered if my daughter had ADD. Er, no, she was just 6 and raised by free spirited heathens, lol. Now my daughter is finishing 4th and it turns out she was able to adapt to the system. She loves school as it is so far. But the school finally questioned their approach and are moving class by class into a project-based learning system. Much better for kids in my opinion…but since my kid wasn’t having problems anymore she didn’t make the cut for the trial, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. They are your sons and the district’s “numbers” or even worse . . . it’s “consumers.”

    My oldest is in 9th grade. I will tell you that our choice to put him into a lottery for a charter school that focuses on hand-on/experiential learning when he started 7th grade was the best educational decision we made. My daughter is there now, as a 7th grader, and is flourishing in that sort of leaning environment. While the choices are slim, there are alternatives out there for an educational education.


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