Our Schools Should Be The Most Colorful of Places

Schools should be places that should show some of the greatest amounts of color.

Imagine if you as a teacher had to visually represent the wide array of talents, learning styles, abilities, skills, interests, and intangibles that each student displayed just inside of your classroom in a given period. For many teachers, that is a lot of students.

Extend that to representing all of the students a teacher comes into contact with in the school setting outside of the classroom. Remember, there are schools in this state with over three thousand high-schoolers.

Imagine the amount of color that would be needed. One could use the widest palette of color and it still would not encompass the width and breadth of what I would want to convey. But it is a start.


And yet, that would not be the same palette that those who quantifiably measure schools would use. How schools and students are measured on a state level rarely takes into account that so much more defines the intellectual and social terrain of a school, its students, and its culture than a standardized test can measure. Why? Because there really is not such a person as a “standardized” student.

Measuring schools in quantified manners through surreptitious algorithms and standardized tests limits in what ways the public can see how successful our schools really are. It mutes the colors significantly.

In fact, it seems as if Raleigh wants to make sure that the only palette we can use to define the “color” of our schools is limited to a few options.

gray pallette

When schools are measured in terms of “pass / fail” or with “proficiency” instead of “growth” or with bottom lines instead of processes, then there is no room for color, just shades of gray.

Each student brings so much to a classroom. They each have presence and gifts. They bring in an expertise of their lives. They bring color. Experienced teachers understand that because they look at students as individuals who are the sum of their experiences, backgrounds, work ethic, and self-worth. They see the colors and they look for more to add to the palette.

And imagine what could be accomplished when the vision of a teacher is supported by the very resources to make those colors appear on a dynamic, organic canvas that is the educational experience. What if each teacher could have this at his or her disposal?


Yet the reality with underfunded public schools is that teachers do not have enough at their disposal. Textbooks are outdated, professional development funds are nonexistent; per –pupil expenditures are still low; teacher salaries are grossly misrepresented. It’s as if what teachers only supplied to them is this:

palette empty

Too many times teachers must pay from their own pockets for the supplies to fund basic needs and enrich educational experiences. It’s like that they have to not only buy the paints and the brushes, but the very easels as well.

That should never be the case in North Carolina or anywhere that is supposed to offer a good sound basic public education.

Interestingly enough, the word “color” not only deals with something visual, but extends to other senses like sound.

The word “color” on Merriam-Webster.com has fifteen definitions for its use as a noun.

  • The sky can appear a certain color because of the “hue, lightness, and saturation.”
  • There is a certain color to his cheeks based on his “complexion.”
  • Chopin’s prose shows a lot of “local color” in that it uses “a variety of effects of language.”
  • Some people associate themselves with certain groups by wearing the “colors” of a group.
  • A musical instrument can emit a “colorful” sound.
  • We need more “persons of color” as teachers in our public schools here in North Carolina and should as a state encourage more ethnic, racial, and gender diversity in our teacher force.

“Color” is a big, vibrant, vivid, lively, energetic word.

Yes, schools should be immensely colorful.