If you haven’t read this magnificent rebuttal to the Time magazine cover calling teachers“Rotten Apples” click and go there right now. Thank you Nancy F. Chewning, Assistant Principal, Roanoke, Virginia for such a voice-filled, passionate plea for teachers to become more involved in how our profession is viewed by all. The figures in this article are shocking; the analogies are dead spot on, and we all need to heed Ms. Chewning’s call to action.
But if you have, and/or once you do, you’ll likely want to discuss it with someone, right away. Each of us has our own specific stories to add to those from the blog. Together, we add up to a workforce that has never flexed its muscles to get the attention of people who matter. Instead, we go to work every day, each in our own way trying to use our time to make it possible for teachers to teach and students to learn. We do whatever the policy makers feel is the best new direction (for not always the most altruistic reasons). And it’s not working.
We have to become passionate, omnipresent advocates for students and teachers every day in big and little ways. Teachers have never relished the role as rebels, preferring to pour time and attention into the children they serve in so many positive ways. But, the conditions of teaching worsen every year and with the results of the most current election, they will erode even faster now.
Speak up with parents, with administrators, with policy makers. See if you can establish a “bring your legislator to school day.” Let them see what real schools do every single day. They don’t know the magic that teachers bring into children’s lives under the most challenging. Invite the school board or state commissioner to visit and talk with kids. Challenge them to find out what is really happening in today’s schools and why it’s a miracle in itself that teachers keep showing up.
Do it with colleagues or by grade level, or by school. But do it. People in powerful positions who have the authority to dictate the terms of funding and how those funds are used need to know what schools today are like. They need to rejoice in the joy and skill that teachers bring to classrooms; they need to be horrified at the conditions under which many work.
Be an advocate for us all. I promise to do the same. Together we are a lot stronger than divided. This is not a partisan issue: it is an issue of morality, integrity, and ethics. Public schools can fulfill their promise¾but if we don’t fight back against the assault, we’ll lose this battle. I, for one, can’t imagine living the United States of America without a vibrant and thriving public school system that provides a world-class education to EVERY students regardless of their zip code, race, or gender. – Ruth