This is what I want to tell all of my teacher-friends, but I don’t know if I will. Sure, some of them follow this blogging site, but most of them don’t.
You see, here’s the thing…teachers are so overwhelmed and so stressed out, so weary and demoralized, that any suggestion of adding something to their plates comes to just this side of creating a panic attack.
I don’t want to do that.
What I want to say is this: “Hey folks, I know you are concerned about the inner dealings of your own classrooms and your own students. We all are. However, focusing on them only, without considering the broader implications of what’s happening on a city, state and national level is like watering the flowers in our garden while the whole neighborhood being swept away by a hurricane. To take the metaphor further: you’d be better off nailing plywood to your windows and moving all of your belongings to the second story of your home. Watering your flowers won’t do any good if your house is leveled.”
I want to say this: “Let’s say that you currently spend 100% of your working time on your students and your classroom. Even then, you can’t get everything done…no teacher can. So what if you spent 90% of your working time on your current students and 10% of your time ensuring the success of your future students, by making sure they have adequate funding and everything that the kids of 20 years ago had?”
Education is under attack, and teachers need to be fighting back. This isn’t all theoretical, either: there are concrete things that teachers can be doing to protect their students and themselves.
The most imminent danger, at least in my district, is the possible failure of the November M&O override. We need to be actively campaigning for it. We need to be sprinkling every conversation we have with potential voters with heartfelt reasons why our overrides need to pass. We need to be going door-to-door (when it gets cooler) and talking to people in voting neighborhoods. We need to have signs in the back windows of our cars. We need to be spending some of our 100% on this.
There are other concrete things we can be doing: we need to pay attention to who’s running for vacant school board positions and make sure that the right people get elected. We need to campaign for them.
We need to be doing the same thing for candidates who are vying to fill seats in all of the seats that will be filled in November’s election. We can be doing research about candidates and find out their positions on education issues. Or we can talk to people who have done the research. (Feel free to talk to me, by the way. I’ve have done so much research and reading on candidates that I almost scare myself).
I know that we—teachers—are weary and demoralized. However, we need to stop metaphorically watering our flowers and start ensuring the safety of our future students in this hurricane that is destroying education.
We’re not even in the eye of the storm yet. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.