This post is a bit of a departure than my typical posts. However, my reasoning is twofold. One, I needed to write to clarify my own thinking. Two, I am asking for some insights from all of you as I value your perspectives.
If you're an educator in Alabama, I'm sure you would agree that every time we turn around, there seems to be a new piece of legislation that seems like an attack on educators and our ability to teach our students. Everything from a lack of pay raise to escalated healthcare costs to repealing College and Career Ready Standards to making our state superintendent an elect official (sidebar: Dr. Bice, a champion for Alabama students, doesn't waver from doing what is best for each of our students). I have mostly refrained from publishing my personal views through social media selecting instead to write my legislators emails/letters, make phone calls, and schedule face-to-face meetings. In addition, I have spoken with many of my fellow educators to encourage them to take action as well.
Last week, I finally reached my "breaking point." Much of this legislation is being pushed through by my legislator. After doing some digging, I discovered that he is planning on running for a position in Congress. So, in the interest of building a name for himself, he is taking actions that directly impacts my students' ability to learn and my ability to teach. I have personally met with many of the Alabama legislators and all of our federal legislators (in fact, I will be meeting with several of them again this week). Any guesses on which legislator I can't get in touch with? Yep, that's right. The one where I am his constituent. I've tried. For two years.
Like many educators, I do not like politics. It is not an arena where I want to be involved...at all. Like many of you, I became an educator so that I could teach my students. I LOVE that I have the privilege of learning alongside my students every day. Every day is different. Every day is exciting. I have a passion for empowering the voices of each of my students. I teach them that their voice can make a difference in the world. A little over two years ago, I realized that I had to speak up for my students. I could no longer sit back and expect others to take action. I had to lead them by example.
I know that the work that I do makes a difference in the lives of my students, their parents, and the community. I have been fortunate enough to be able to witness this year after year. However, I can't help but wonder if I am giving my students false hope or an unrealistic view of the world and the power that they have to make a difference. I want to instill in them a sense of community and a desire to serve others. I want them to know that they matter, their thoughts matter, and that they don't have to sit by and be a victim. They can speak up.
So as I wrap up these thoughts I wonder: Am I setting my students up for failure? Are these unrealistic expectations for my learners? What lesson can I take away from my experiences to pass on to my students?
Thank you in advance for your thoughts and ideas.