Educate – of Latin origin meaning “to draw out, or to lead.” As keepers of education we have been entrusted with the responsibility of leading others and drawing out the ideals of democracy to reach its philosophical intentions.
Education is not as it was a hundred – or even ten – years ago. Terms like Smart Boards, Internet, Google Tools, Google Apps, Wikki’s, and PLC’s sprinkle our daily vocabulary and echo through the halls. Not so loudly heard are the threats that endanger the very purpose of our educational systems; corporate reform, Common Core, Broad, Pearson, and my favorite, PARCC. Threats that carry a fear that send even the strongest teacher to hide in the classroom and close the door.
But this is where we went wrong. Whether intentional or unintentional, we have allowed ourselves to become isolated and have created an appearance of neglect in remembering our original role as guardians of the children. This misfortune has caused us to be perpetuated as gluttonous, greedy public employees that only teach for two reasons, our pensions, and our part time employment with summers off.
Being the target of countless media attacks, in our own state and across the country, has led us to a victim mentality, carrying with it, the danger that this mentality is shaping our world.
I had the opportunity this year to hear and speak with a powerful speaker this year, Jennifer Powers, author of the book “Oh Shift!” Listening to her speak, I was struck by the realization that teachers need to hear her message to change their own mentality to facilitate control over their own reality.
We have the power to create a shift within ourselves, to stop playing victims. In doing so, we will create an environment of control that will translate into actual control over our profession. As educational professionals, we have all internalized what is and what can be good about our educational systems. Now is the time to shift our self-perceptions, to analyze our own structures, to work towards developing new ways to solidify our organization in unity to create change. Change that will be brought about when we think proactively about the promotion of all that is right with public education, when we recognize and address the areas that are wrong, and when we stand in the face of opposition to say that we will not accept compromise on the backs of our students.
Our reality today is that we have the opportunity to participate in a democratic manner to shape the future of our union into what we need it to be. Thousands of teachers across the country and around the world are finding their voices to rise up and speak out against all that we know in our hearts to be wrong for our students. Choices we make need that to reflect the future as we know it should be. We must drive our union as a vehicle to bring those voices together with solidarity and with unity. Let us be heard with clarity and conviction as we ask ourselves these questions…
Does it unite us? Does it build our power? Does it make us stronger?
Please join me in saying the flag salute as tribute to the democratic ideals of our forefathers as we continue our work to further them so that one day we can see a nation that is truly FOR ALL.