What Are We Doing?


Who is He?                                                      Who is she?

He sits at a desk,                                        She sits at a desk,

Computer screen looming,                         Shirt slightly soiled,
Telephone ringing,                                     Trousers too short.

Coffee and donut aside.                              Belly too hungry.


He has an idea!                                     Look at that picture!

To promote better learning,                          What is that blurred image?

To ensure better teaching,                         Who are those sea creatures?

To generate reports,                                                Her mother is sick,

He’ll test the kids more.                                Her mother may die.


The idea inspires him                                           She wonders if mother

Make really hard questions                          Will get to the doctor,

And lots of blank pages                              Will fall off the bed,

And long, literary passages                                   Will swallow more pills.

About which to write.                                        Both eyes are now watering.


Never mind disabilities                                 She’ll write a few words.

Never mind broken homes,                          She’ll make up a story.

Drunken mother, absent father,               The words are so basic.

Abusive boyfriends, chronic disease,                        The writings so crude,

Kids just have to write!                                   “Get done” is her goal.


The state will control                                      The state will decide

The way teachers teach.                          If her words are enough,

The state will command                                 If her thoughts are sequential,

The way students learn.                           If she gets special help.

No child left behind!                                     Who’s left her behind?






                                                                                                  Sheryl Guterl