Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Let's Quit Hiding Behind Our Classroom Doors

Close Our Doors?
A little over a year ago I wrote this in Putting Politics and Policies Aside:
As educators, we know children deserve more than a role as political pawns in a game in which there are no winners. So while the politicians debate, we'll be in our classrooms because we believe the best use of our time is working to help our students learn and achieve. We believe in the children who enter our doors each day eager to inquire, discover, and create meaning in their worlds. We know they are the scientists, the peace makers, the writers, and the problem solvers of our tomorrow. We understand the significance of the work we do.
Tough Times For Public Education
Times are tough for public education across America.  Here in Ohio, as in many states, public education has seen major reductions in funding as "public" charter schools have received increases in dollars with little oversight.  Additionally, the increased use of standardized testing to measure public schools, teachers, and children has resulted in a narrow curriculum.  One could ask if these tests actually measure the things we value in learning, such as innovation and creativity, which have helped to make this country great.  I think the argument could be made that many of the current complaints about public education, especially those made by politicians, will find their roots in the test driven policy that has come from No Child Left Behind laws.

Since I wrote that post over a year ago, you might say, nothing has changed.  In fact, you might argue, it has gotten worse.  I feel a growing concern that public schools will soon be a place of segregation once again.  This time a place of economic segregation.  As more and more states find ways to move educational funds to charter and private schools, as more and more states raise income limits for vouchers, public education loses again.  Children lose again.

You might say nothing has changed, but...

Advocating For Public Education
Something has changed.  The willingness of educators to continue to allow politicians and corporate leaders to dictate educational policy is changing.  Events like the SOS March are part of an effort for educators to collectively raise their voices about the significance of public education.  As educators it is no longer enough to close our doors and teach.  It is time to stand up for our profession, the children we work beside each day, and the necessity of public education for our nation to thrive.

Something has changed.  I no longer am satisfied to, as I said last March, close the door to my classroom and teach.  The best use of my time, of our time as educators, is in creating the narrative for education not being a victim of it.

Standing For Children
The voice that is lost in all of this is the voice of children.  To say that they are our tomorrow is to ignore what they already are today.  Children deserve learning environments where they have time to learn and to grow.  We must be thoughtful about the ways we ask them to use their time.  School should be a place where they work together, ask deep questions, seek answers, read real books, write real pieces and learn to live in this world that extends far beyond their neighborhoods.

I hope you will join me by opening your door, lifting your voice, and advocating for public education.  Let's create our own narrative for children and learning.

Where To Begin?

  1. Share your classroom:  Having a blog is the perfect place to help parents, politicians, as well as other educators know all of the amazing work going on in public schools.  There is a positive narrative weaving across the educational blogging community.
  2. Get informed:  Find ways to follow the work of elected political officials.  It's probably wise to have their e-mail address and phone number too.  Raise your voice.
  3. Share your work:  Tell parents, administrators, and public officials about the work you do outside of the classroom.  Talk about the groups you belong to, share the professional development opportunities you've participated in, and discuss the ways you collaborate with other educational professionals. (Thanks, Karen.  @karenterlecky)
  4. Say "I am an educator" with pride:  When asked what you do proudly announce that you are an educator shaping this country's future....not "just a teacher." (Thanks, Deb @frazierde)  Share your concerns about your profession and the future of public education with friends and family.  Spread the message.
  5. Build Networks:  One of the biggest problems for educators is we have not established a common voice. While billionaires and politicians put money into advertising their agendas, we do not have these resources.  Twitter is one place teachers can network and collaborate to raise our voices about educational policies.  (I'm advocating at @PublicEd4Kids)
  6. Read.  Read.  Read:  Thanks to the internet there are many blogs, e-newspapers, and other media to help stay informed about your state and public education.  
  7. Add other thoughts in the comments below:  What do you do to advocate for public education?  I hope you'll share.
If you're looking for public education advocates on Twitter, here are a few lists I've made:
You might be interested in:


  1. Reading and being informed is the best way I can wade through the mis-information that is constantly being rained upon me. It gives me a resource and a means to educate others who don't always stay up to date. I just wrote a post today, basically summarizing what I am all about, and then I came to your blog and thought it was a good validation for my thoughts today. Thanks for the pep talk!

  2. You go, girl! You are so right. We ARE the voice of the children. If we don't speak up, no one will hear what our students need. Thank you!

  3. Cathy~
    We are lucky to have proud educators like you in our profession! The work you do everyday for our kids is to be commended.Your willingness to stand and speak on behalf of our kids is something every educator needs to do, Iam not sure we have a choice. I hope others reading your wise words will act! Something as simple as sharing your expertise with parents or simply calling yourself an educator is a start.