On Hills and Mountains


l found myself repeating a phrase today. So much that I felt like I wore it out.


“ Is this the hill you want to die on?”


I don’t actually know where the phrase came from. However, I’m nostalgic and a nerd, so I imagine some wizened and weathered military higher-up types (either real or fantastical- I’m an English teacher after all) peering over maps and schematics in the dim candlelight saying to each other. “Yes, right there! This is where we rally. That is the place we take to end this war.”


I saw a lot of people dying on hills today.


A student was telling me how he was moving out of his house to Arizona, because he got in a fight with his mom over leaving his shoes in the hallway.

A teacher was complaining that the students put their heads down, because it was hot and the air conditioning wasn’t on.

A student was arguing with his teacher after she asked him politely, to move to another seat because he wouldn’t be able to see the board when she started teaching.


When you start thinking about it, this phrase is supremely applicable to education “reform”. We are all so busy dying on hills that we don’t see the mountains we need to take to win the war.

Did you know that there are approximately 6,000 employees in the Rochester City School District? That number includes teachers,support staff, administrators and substitutes. A very large amount of them are union employees. Six thousand people seems like an army to me. Not to mention the thousands of parents, grandparents and city residents invested in urban education.

What if we fought next to each other and not against each other?

What are the big mountains then? They’re no secret. They’re concentrated poverty and de facto segregation. They are lack of organization and trust at the base level of our communal existence. The biggest mountain- the idea that “I need to hold on and fight for what’s mine because no one else is fighting for me.”

What if we remembered that children are innocents that we all need to protect and fight for?

That they are born into circumstances that they can’t control?

That it is every adults obligation to make sure that they are safe, healthy, and educated?

What if we stopped dying hills and started rushing the mountains?



Copyright: ©Kelly LaLonde, and urbanesl, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



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