Dylan Garity – “Rigged Game” (NPS 2013)


Every day when I was five, my older sister
would play teacher. Her students were me, my stuffed rabbit and
an American girl doll, She’d line us up at the end of the bed
and teach us whatever she’d learned in school that day. Now, she teaches ESL at an elementary school
in Boston and every week she tells me stories about
her students. Ana does not know how to read in Spanish,
much less English but she still wants to be a writer when she
grows up. Juan chooses to stay inside and study at recess
so that one day he’ll be able to teach his own brother. These kids are good organs in a sick body.
In 2001, No Child Left Behind gutted bilingual education.
Students who have been in the country for one year
are now expected to perform at grade level on standardized English tests.
My sister is not allowed to instruct them in Spanish.
If the kids don’t jump high enough, the school loses money
Improving a school by picking its pockets is like tuning a guitar by ripping off the
strings. Learning to read in a new language before
you can even read in your own is like learning to walk while a pit bull
is chasing you. Like learning to sing with the conductor’s
fist down your throat This year, for my sister’s birthday,
I bought books for her students. A poem on one page in Spanish, the next in
English. She is not allowed to help them read the first. Their heritage is a banned book Learning to read in a new language when you
can’t even read in your own is like trying to heal a burn victim by drowning
them. We are telling these children
who have spent their whole lives in the deep end that they’ll learn how to swim if they just float out a little farther. In the 1980s, American slaughterhouses began
building corrals in curves, so no animals could see the blood at the end
of the track. This is how we kept them moving forward.
In 2001, we began building the hallways of our schools in curves.
This is how we keep them moving forward. You never learn, you fail the test
You never learn you fail the test You never learn, you drop out. I know, I am lucky enough to be one of the
winners of this game I was handed a head start
and a rulebook in my own tongue but the winners of a rigged game
should not get to write the rules. On the television,
some senator preaches that throwing money at an “urban school” is like feeding caviar
to your dog. They just won’t know how to appreciate it
After all, if these parents can’t take care of their own children, why should we? Well tell that to Ana
who has my sister translate newsletters aloud to her father
because he, too, was never taught how to read Tell that to Juan
whose mother and baby sister are still in Guatemala
whose father works three jobs My sister tells me school is the most stable
place in these kids’ lives. She has been a teacher since she was smaller
than they are. but since when does being a teacher mean having
to swear not to help? Since when does being a teacher mean having
your hands tied as the schoolhouse burns to the ground?
We are leading these children along a track built in circles
as their lungs fill with smoke telling them it is their fault
they can’t find a way out.

99 thoughts on “Dylan Garity – “Rigged Game” (NPS 2013)

  1. Growing up in a private school you would expect them with all the money that is given to them that i would excel in most or every subject. But no. I was held back a year in math. I go into english class scared out of my mind because i do not understand how to properly write essays. And i get failed and fail every time. But not once when i asked for help did they sit and teach me merely said, its simple do it. The education system is broken. And instead of yelling at the kids that its there fault take a step back and look at what can be fixed because my mind can not.

  2. This poem really hits home with me because I came to the US before I could write. I was put in a preschool that had no English speaking teachers available to help me and I was alone. I was ignored and unable to be understood or understand. I would come home angry that the kids here didn't make sense that they didn't know how to talk. This was paired with a feeling of inadequacy that still presents itself when I can't spell a word correctly. I was held back a year because of language complications when native English speakers got praised for almost getting the word right I was handled gingerly. I learned and now I also write poetry but it wasn't without struggle none of my native English speaking friends could comprehend.

  3. Yes yes yes I live u right now I get so many sideways looks when I try and stand up for people like them and it's really awesome to finally see that someone like me is on the same page as I

  4. "The winners of a rigged game should not get to write the rules" This applies to so much

  5. "the winners of a rigged game should not get to write the rules" that line really hits home.

  6. My only reason to become a teacher is to resurrect the US Education system and fixed the rigged game.

  7. and this is why the us education system is totally fucked.
    "these kids are good organs in a sick body"

  8. THIS is how those of us who were randomly born into a privilege we had no choice but to grow up in should be using that privilege. Privilege should be used to help those who weren't as luck in the heartless lottery that if life.

  9. "…like trying to sing with the conductor's fist jammed down your throat" his imagery is so vivid. Love it!

  10. "As their lungs fill with smoke telling them, it is their fault they can't find a way out'

  11. My native language is Spanish, but I was lucky enough to learn english before kindergarten, and was taken out of the ELA Testing in 4th grade (English language arts testing, to know if I was proficient in English)

  12. I listen to you.So will others. You are gifted in knowing and expression.Thank you for sharing with this intensity, it is courageous. I will craft my own anger about our state of disgrace in this kind of poetry.

  13. "improving a school by picking its pocket is like tuning a guitar by ripping out its strings" applaud

  14. Privelege has to do with race, but it has to do with money more.

  15. "The winners of a rigged game should not get to write the rules". Chills.

  16. I worked as a tutor/translator for ESL school students through my undergrad. This is all too real.

  17. This revved me up because I myself hate how the education system is! Way to go, Dylan and his sister as well!

  18. saw this during the Bill Press Show and it knocked me out.speaking truth to power needed today, the day after the electoral college sunk to Trump university level of pure crap

  19. This poem hit me hard. I had to deal with the same issues. I missed a lot of my classes just to do go ESOL and ended up failing tests because I simply wasn't taught it during class. I knew how to speak Spanish perfectly but they practically stripped me away of it now. I can't even roll my rs anymore. All that mattered was to speak English. I was fortunate in the end and somehow became great at writing and loved it and proceeded into more advanced classes. But the fact that my own native tongue will never be the same as it was before will always haunt me. Even if I'm considered a 'winner' in this awful, rigged game what did i win? The loss of my heritage? The guilt in not being able to speak fluently and happily as I did so long ago? Just these things. . .

  20. "The winners of a rigged game should not get to write the rules." Yet . . . they do.

  21. I had to pause the video for a second I was starting to cry oml this video hit me so deep because I'm still a student rn and I won't be out of the system for a couple more yrs

  22. Man fuck this got me over here in tears like who do you think you are speaking truths in such a powerful way it makes me cry.

  23. there was a lot of emotion in this, u can tell by the amount of saliva that shot out throughout the poem.

  24. "Improving a school by picking it's pockets is like tuning a guitar by ripping off the strings. Learning to read in a new language before you can even read in your own is like learning to walk while being chased by a pitbull. Like learning to sing with the conductor's fist down your throat."

  25. I was like Ana. I was in school when no child left behind was passed. I speak English fluently now, but all the stress and anxiety that was put on me at such a young age was detrimental and I don’t want anyone else to experience what I experienced. Unfortunately though, it’s happening every day. I cannot even begin to explain how frustrating it was to have someone try to teach you a language you’ve never heard by only speaking to you in said language. By explaining everything in that language, the one you and your parents don’t know a lick of.

  26. Every day when I was five, my older sister would play teacher.
    Her students were me, my stuffed rabbit and an American girl doll,
    She’d line us up at the end of the bed and teach us whatever she’d learned in school that day.

    Now, she teaches ESL at an elementary school in Boston
    and every week she tells me stories about her students.
    Ana does not know how to read in Spanish, much less English
    but she still wants to be a writer when she grows up.
    Juan chooses to stay inside and study at recess so that one day he’ll be able to teach his own brother.

    These kids are good organs in a sick body.
    In 2001, No Child Left Behind
    gutted bilingual education.
    Students who have been in the country for one year
    are now expected to perform at grade level
    on standardized English tests.
    My sister is not allowed to instruct them in Spanish.
    If the kids don’t jump high enough, the school loses money
    Improving a school by picking its pockets
    is like tuning a guitar by ripping off the strings.

    Learning to read in a new language
    before you can even read in your own
    is like learning to walk while a pit bull is chasing you.
    Like learning to sing with the conductor’s fist down your throat

    This year, for my sister’s birthday,
    I bought books for her students.
    A poem on one page in Spanish, the next in English.
    She is not allowed to help them read the first.
    Their heritage is a banned book

    Learning to read in a new language
    when you can’t even read in your own
    is like trying to heal a burn victim by drowning them.
    We are telling these children
    who have spent their whole lives in the deep end
    that they’ll learn how to swim if they just float out a little farther.

    In the 1980s, American slaughterhouses
    began building corrals in curves,
    so no animals could see the blood at the end of the track.
    This is how we kept them moving forward.
    In 2001, we began building the hallways of our schools in curves.
    This is how we keep them moving forward.

    You never learn, you fail the test
    You never learn you fail the test
    You never learn, you drop out.

    I know, I am lucky enough to be one of the winners of this game
    I was handed a head start
    and a rulebook in my own tongue

    but the winners of a rigged game
    should not get to write the rules.

    On the television,
    some senator preaches that throwing money
    at an “urban school” is like feeding caviar to your dog.
    They just won’t know how to appreciate it
    After all, if these parents can’t take care
    of their own children, why should we?

    Well tell that to Ana
    who has my sister translate newsletters aloud to her father
    because he, too, was never taught how to read

    Tell that to Juan
    whose mother and baby sister are still in Guatemala
    whose father works three jobs

    My sister tells me school is the most stable place in these kids’ lives.
    She has been a teacher since she was smaller than they are.
    but since when does being a teacher mean having to swear not to help?
    Since when does being a teacher mean having your hands tied
    as the schoolhouse burns to the ground?
    We are leading these children along a track built in circles
    as their lungs fill with smoke
    telling them it is their fault
    they can’t find a way out.

  27. As an educator for Migrant Children, I fell in love with this poem because it is so true! I see this every single day.

  28. Yo, this dude right here ain't no joke! So many amazing one liners! And he's WOKE!

  29. I absolutely love this I am just disappointed in the way he used pitbulls in a bad way 😔 otherwise I absolutely love the poem

  30. Since a young age I've wanted to be a teacher however I'm still undecided on what career path to choose ( next year I'll have to choose) and I accidentally clicked on this video andddd it was posted on my birthday so yoohh I'm taking this as a sign

  31. That line! "Learning to read in English when you haven't learned to read in your own language is like learning how to walk while a pitbull is chasing you." That line hurt so good!

  32. This brought tears to my eyes and chills all over me, so good

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