As a child, the news was something I was encouraged to familiarize myself with. Whether I was with my elderly neighbor Gigi after school, or spending the summer with my grandmother in Panama, the news was not to be missed. Both ladies would tell me that I needed to sit still and listen, so that I could learn about life! When my mom got home from work, we watched the 6 o’clock news every evening, because it was ‘important’. It didn’t matter if there was a movie on, or some cartoons. If there was news to be learned from, we watched!
I don’t know if it was my early preoccupation with the news that shaped me into an adult that enjoyed discussing politics, but here I am…loving it.
There are MANY people out there who are uncomfortable discussing difficult topics such as race, religion, politics, et. al. I get it. What I’m here to tell you is to lean into the discomfort. If you are a teacher in America, your job IS political. Little things like…how the state distributes funding to schools…how the zones are drawn up…the racial make up of schools…the idea of tenure…the amount teachers get paid….contract negotiations…unions…school closings…these are all POLITICAL issues. They impact the classroom. They impact the teachers. The business of public schools is political and we need to educate ourselves on how to make this entity better for our kids.
The time is now, teachers.
It’s time to read up, pray up, get up, and march up.
This has nothing to do with whether you are a Democrat or a Republican.
Equity for students should not be a partisan issue.
Fair pay for teachers should not be a partisan issue.
This weekend, my personal Facebook feed was full of political posts. I don’t mind, I like politics. What I’ll tell you that DOES bother me, is the idea that in order for us to ‘unify’, I’ve got to ‘move forward’. In order for us to be ‘whole again’ as a country…I need to not be negative.
Folks, that’s silencing.
I have said it before and I’ll say it again.
People who are attempting to have real conversations that strip us of our privilege are not negative…they are constructive.
Often times, in reply to heated political discussions, people quote Dr. King. I think that’s sad, to be honest. He was a revolutionary and hated in his time for speaking his mind, organizing his folks, and disturbing the peace for change. That is what he did. He didn’t just sit on some stairs and sing kumbaya. He went to jail. He became a criminal for a cause. Yes, he was for non-violent protest. He was also for the bus boycott that crippled Birmingham’s bus companies until they bent to his will. He was hated for that. There are teachers today talking about equity for public schools. They are leading the way in the discussion and asking teachers to lean into the discomfort and mobilize for change. They are hated for that…just as Dr. King was. There are attempts to silence them too. It’s sad really.
This weekend, I participated in the #kindessnation and #weholdthesetruths campaign on Teachers Pay Teachers. I submitted a free third grade level fluency passage on John Lewis. What a hero! I am so thankful for the work that he did 50 years ago…but the work that he still does today to elevate the voices of people who are not normally heard. His name has been in the press lately. If you want to use my fluency passage, please expose your students to how Mr. Lewis has AGAIN placed himself in the way to stand up for truth. He’s still working to mobilize people for change. I am thankful for that.
Teaching is political because we stand in the gap for students and advocate for those who do not yet have a voice for themselves.
We adults closest to the process of shaping their lives have a great responsibility in electing local leaders that see them.
We have the responsibility to hold politicians feet to the fire when it comes to finding the public face of education.
We have the privilege of using whatever platforms we have to help our communities know more about our kids and what they need to be successful.
We cannot allow passivity to reign. We do not have time for those who don’t care to be in the struggle to dictate what the struggle is, when they haven’t a clue.