• The parents of eight-year-old Lulu divorced, but her mother kept a good home for her. Near Easter, Lulu arrived home to find her mother hopping around the house while dressed as the Easter Bunny with bunny ears, pink tights, and a powder puff for a tail. Not surprisingly, her family’s motto is “Proud to Be Weird.”
• Born in Mexico, Guadalupe Quintanilla grew up speaking Spanish and did not attend much school. At age 13, she moved to Brownsville, Texas, where she had to take a test in order to be admitted to school. However, the test was in English, and she didn’t know English. Of course, she scored very low on the test, and the school’s administrators thought that she was mentally retarded, so they put her in the first grade. Soon, she grew frustrated and dropped out. Later, she got married and had children. Her children spoke only Spanish and they, too, had trouble in school and were placed in a class of “slow learners,” who also spoke only Spanish. Ms. Quintanilla realized that she needed to learn English in order to help her children, so she attempted to sit in on classes where English was spoken. First, she tried to sit in on a class for aides at a hospital where she volunteered, but her request was rejected. Next, she tried to sit in on a class at a high school, but the school counselor told her that her records showed that she was mentally retarded. Next, she went to Texas Southmost College to enroll in classes, but at first she wasn’t allowed to because of her poor English skills. Refusing to give up, she waited for two hours, then spoke to the registrar of the college, who finally allowed her to enroll in courses, but who also told her not to bother him if she failed. She didn’t fail. Her first semester grades were good enough for her to make the Dean’s List. She continued to do well in her studies, although algebra literally made her vomit one day. In 1976, she earned a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Houston. What about her children? She helped them with their schoolwork, their grades got better, and all three children eventually earned doctorates. One child became a physician, and her two other children became lawyers. Whenever someone calls her house to ask for Dr. Quintanilla, she has to ask, “Which one?” Her family has four Dr. Quintanillas.
• Young people’s author Judy Blume is one of the worst standardized test takers of all time. When she took the college boards, she had had no experience with this kind of test before. Therefore, she says, “Every word and number swam in front of me.” She ended up filling in the little circles on the standardized answer sheet randomly — she didn’t even read the questions. Her guidance teacher knew how intelligent Judy was — Judy was an A student — so her guidance teacher was shocked by Judy’s low test scores. Fortunately, Judy got into college because of teacher recommendations, high grades, and extracurricular activities. She says, “I do know standardized tests can’t measure our creativity. If I had been judged only by that test and nothing else — if the rest of my life depended on that test — I’d be in terrible shape now, a failure.” By the way, Ms. Blume’s book sales number over 80 million!
• A bully named Zachary picked on classmate Elliot Rafael at school, calling him a “n*gger” several times. Elliot’s mother, Tina, went to the school principal, who took no action. Finally, it was Elliot’s kindergarten teacher who took appropriate action. She told her class that she and Elliot were going to be together. She also said, “All those in the class who want to use ugly names and call Elliot a ‘n*gger’ will have to call me one, too.” Tina was grateful, and the bullying and the name-calling stopped immediately. (And the next day Elliot gave Zachary a big hug and told him, “What you need is some love, Zachary.” He also told Zachary’s mother to spend time with her son, adding, “He just needs to be loved, so he won’t be so mean.”)
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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