Today is MLK day and with this backdrop in mind, I am compelled to comment on the disaster that is the Detroit Public School system. Lots of Americans talk a good game about how segregation is dead thanks to the work of Dr. King, but the reality is that we still segregate in this country. There are still poor children who are disenfranchised from the quality resources that are afforded to children of economic privilege. Who ever thought that expecting a clean, upkept building would be too much to ask for? Whoever thought that expecting clean drinking water and mold free classrooms would be something we had to ‘draw attention’ to. That is the truth of it though. That’s where we are. Today. Not in 1960, but today. Today, in Detroit Public Schools, teachers are not able to truly mobilize. They can not strike. They must just endure. They take photos and call for sick outs with the prayer that they will be ‘seen’. Well…we see you. We see your classrooms walls with mushrooms growing along the floor. We see your broken toilets. We see your patched over ceilings where winter air filters through and teachers and students are subjected the cold. We also see YOU. The teacher who is still showing up. We see the student who is struggling to learn through these horrific conditions. We also see politicians who have left you out in the cold. It’s an election year folks. If you think that this couldn’t happen in your state, you’re wrong. If you think that the policies that caused this in Detroit are removed from you, you are wrong. The same politicians who are pillaging funding for public education and stealing a quality educational process from our children don’t only reside in Detroit. They are in your town, and my town. They are our elected officials. Make yourself aware of education policy in your state. Learn what the presidential candidates are saying about the future of education in America. Stand with the teachers–both white and black–that are trying desperately to draw focus to this cause.
If you too are horrified with what is happening in Detroit, here’s what you need to do.
1.) Mobilize, Amplify and Advocate.
Work with other teachers to get the word out. Share their story on your Facebook page. Follow the hashtags coming up on Twitter.
Resist the urge to think that there is nothing you can do. There is always something that can be done!
Learn about the issues in Detroit. Read their local papers…not just op-eds in the media. Learn about your own local representatives policies on education.
4.) Vote your conscience.
Enough is Enough! When November comes, take the same feelings you have now into the voting booth. Vote for someone who has an education policy that benefits all children, not just the lucky few that get to ‘opt out’ of the hand they were dealt. The success or failure of our public education system is up to us. We vote to power it. Let’s vote for folks who make our kids, our future a priority.