[An Abecedary of Cape-Wearing] H is for Helping

Superheroes are helpful. It’s sort of their job. They help ladies in distress on a regular basis. They help save bus-fulls of innocent victims from certain death. They save folks who inadvertently fall off tall buildings. And they save cities and planets from evil-doers and imminent destruction.

Some superheroes wage an internal battle with their superhero status, but are convinced as they are continually called in to help and generally save the day.

Some superheroes wage a similar and equally internal battle to stay away from polite society in order to save folks from themselves. The Hulk for example. His main role as a superhero is to keep himself from hurting the wrong people–to try to be in the right place with the right amount of control to unleash fury on the baddies, but keep it away from the nice folks.


Either way, the nice folks get used to it. Metropolis, Gotham City, New York City, Smallville, Earth…the buildings collapse, the subway goes off the rails, the bridges break and the people call for their hero to help. At first they are there without a hitch and the crowd cheers. Later, they are waylaid by multiple and simultaneous disasters or nefarious evil-doers and the crowd questions their loyalty. Why aren’t they there right away?  Why are they allowing this to happen? Why do the bridges keep falling down (okay, they don’t ask that last one, but I totally would)?


At this point the iniquitous, the vile, the power-hungry, the vengeful, the diabolical–the baddies figure it out. Make the people believe the hero doesn’t want to help, won’t help, can’t help, and they will turn on him. Hold him prisoner so that he can’t, threaten him with the death of his tortured love interest, convince her she is out of control, blow up his mansion–make it so they can’t help and let disappointment to their dirty work.


At this point you may be wondering where I’ve hidden the silver lining, and you are right to believe it is here. Each time this happens (and it happens so often you’d think they’d figure it out more quickly), our heroes come to a similar conclusion. One person can’t be the only helper. One person alone can’t save the city. The hero has to start helping the city help themselves. Rebuild the building, shore up the dam, support the good guys. That’s how to truly save the city.

There will always be political rhetoric in education. We have made the grand and important statement that all children have a right to a free and appropriate public education. That is no small feat. We as a whole have embarked on a project that will continually require every bit of our strength, stamina, and heroism to achieve. It can’t be done by one person, one agency, one program. Each of us has some level of experience in education–as a learner, as a parent, as a teacher, and we are all stakeholders.Education and education reform require a daily promise from all stakeholder to do well by our children. We are each superheroes in this commitment and we are equally responsible for saving the day.

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