Things I Know 198 of 365: I want the SOS ralliers to be teachers first

The executive committee of the Save Our Schools March and Rally declined a meeting with the White House yesterday. Instead, they invited any White House personnel who were interested (by which I’m guessing they meant President Obama) to come to today’s rally and “see first-hand what teachers, students, parents and community members from across the country have to say about public education.”
I get the vibe there. I really do. High on the amassing of thousands from across the country to join in the march, it isn’t difficult to imagine the ease with which someone in the room said, “No. I’ve got it. Let’s turn them down and tell them we’ll meet after the march.”
To which the rest of the room cheered or harrumphed or whatever happens in moments like that when those of a group who feel empowered for the first time in a long time start to get the attention they deserve.
I haven’t read, nor do I expect to, the White House’s response of, “Oh, Friday’s no good for you? Ok, we’ll just wait for word from you.”
The nation at risk of defaulting on its loans, losing its AAA credit rating and falling down a deep dark financial hole, the White House made time.
Yes, it’s years after the first requests for a meeting.
And yes, the group of SOS teachers who met with the Department of Education Thursday felt patronized when the DOE issued a press release touting a useful dialogue.
I get all that.
Still, be teachers.
When the student in class who has resisted your every attempt at reaching him and teaching him shows a glimmer of interest in what you have to say, you don’t turn around and say, “You know what, I’m going to head to the Teachers Lounge and talk about what a horrible job you’ve been doing. You’re welcome to come listen in. Then, we’ll come back, and I’ll teach you.”
You teach. You teach in any moment you are given.
Ours is a profession of taking breaks where we can get them.
Not only that, you collecting every shred of data you can.
“Yes, we would love to meet with you. We are going to bring a couple of our top bloggers with us to make sure we document what happens so we can share it with all stakeholders We believe in a transparent process.”
Then, go to the rally and issue your own press release to the assembled thousands relaying exactly what happened, what was said and what plans have been made going forward.
Instead of seeing the offered meeting with the White House and making the case at today’s rally as mutually exclusive events, the chance and win lies in seeing the events as mutually beneficial.
I want equitable funding for all public school populations, an end to high-stakes testing, locally developed curriculums and policymaking by teachers families and local leadership.
These goals of the SOS March and Rally are just.
I want a full dialogue where little exists. I want the right to free speech, and the right to peaceably assemble to be asserted as well the temperance of knowing how and when to speak truth to power in such a way that I am modeling for those I teach the role of diplomacy in democracy.
I want this with the realization there will be no SOS Rally and March v.2.0.
A teacher friend of mine said it best yesterday, “Now SOS is asking us to call in to the White House?” he said, “You had a chance to meet there! Why do I have to call in?”
Be teachers.


2 thoughts on “Things I Know 198 of 365: I want the SOS ralliers to be teachers first

  1. I see your point, but I don't think this is the student who has resisted every attempt. This is the principal or superintendent who has no interest in our point of view. Possibly that means we should still meet with them but it's seems to me to be more complicated than you suggest.

    • It's certainly more complicated than one post can contain, but the sentiment is simple. To my thinking, when rallying and marching, it's a campaign for awareness and support. This was an opportunity for discussion, and it was missed.Anger and feelings of abandonment are wrapped up in all of this.They're valid and raw.All that said, those elements can't drive the decision making. I saw one teacher quoted as saying, “We didn't come for tea and cookies at the White House.” I get the fear of being taken advantage of or a continued trend of placation. Again, those can drive the decisions.No matter when the conversation happens, press releases will be issued painting it in the best light possible. The key (and for me this was the biggest miss of the moment) is going in to the meeting prepared to share and tell your side of what happened when it's all over.Go, sit down, talk. And, bring a reporter from Ed Weekly with you or a few key edubloggers.There was a smarter way to play this.Thank you so much for your comment.

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