Friday, July 12, 2013

Why I Choose to Speak Up..on the Difficult Issues in Education

Image used with permission from Bam Radio Network. 

You may or may not know that I am an occasional guest and a big fan of BAM Radio Network with the wonderful Rae Pica.  I've been a commentator on shows with not too controversial, yet still important topics like, "How to make it on a teacher's salary," "How to get kids energized and paying attention," and others that I can easily babble on about. If you've met me in person, you absolutely know that this former shy girl loves to talk when she has an idea!

But this time, the email invitation from Rae tugged at me..hard. She was asking me to talk about teachers cheating and other actions they resort to in a profession torn apart in the media on a daily basis. Honestly, I wasn't sure I wanted to get involved. What if others in the conversation or those not even willing to participate, judged me or turned against me?  As much as I wanted to say no, I couldn't do it, my inner voice was screaming, "Yes, you need to do it."

I invite you to listen to the short segment and think about where you would fall in the discussion.

Here are my thoughts, written just after the recording:

It’s 6:30 a.m. and I am on a call for a radio show to talk about controversial topics in education, and how we can participate in a meaningful dialogue. Rae, the most gracious and excellent host, reads a quote that I sent to her and BAM!, she’s asking me to elaborate.

Wwwwait.. I struggle..did she just say Joan or John, one of the other guests. Clearly my summer brain has taken over and I need just a sip more coffee. I should recognize my own words, right?
I fumble my way through answering Rae’s questions, listening as I note that the other guests sound much more articulate, awake, and spot on with their concerns and additions to the topic. I blame it on Pacific Time. 

I think John is  right about creating a narrative, Vicki is absolutely correct that we all speak from our vastly diverse experiences, Marilyn mentions being looked down upon for being a charter school teacher, and we all discuss the fear of reprimand or even losing our jobs as a factor in speaking out on the important topics in education. And this, right here, is one of my biggest reasons for speaking up: we cannot live in fear when we choose to speak and act with conviction about what is right. 

John mentions that we will need a lot of empathy in this process of moving forward.. I wholeheartedly agree, though during the conversation  I can't seem to put a sentence together! 

This makes me think that we almost need a rule book or a mission statement/agreement stating that we all understand: something to the effect that we are all wholeheartedly in the field of education to promote equity, reach all children where they are, push them to the highest levels they can achieve, etc. Something like an oath for teachers; doctors take one, right? Aren't we important in our students' physical, mental, emotional health? 

As educators and as human beings, we will have different opinions on teaching practices and pedagogy and even on how schools should work. But I hope, no, I do believe, that deep inside all of us is a passionate advocate for the children we serve. We can't advocate in silence. And we can't join together as a profession if we stay silent. Change comes from being brave enough to speak up and act. 

Whether you agree with my point of view or not, I'd love to continue this discussion, and I thank Rae for the opportunity to be among such passionate educators. 

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