I love it when a drawing or a cartoon of mine generates as much, or more, discussion than my words.
There was some discussion yesterday following the posting of my drawing of Deborah Meier. Meier started the ground-breaking small public school, Central Park East in New York and is still a voice for good schools and against corporate reform.
Each of my teacher drawings includes a quote. There is a problem when you characterize a person by picking out a line or a sentence from all that they have said. There is no context. No nuance.
In this case there was some concern with the words “only secretly” in the quote I chose: “Only secretly rebellious teachers have ever done right by our least advantaged kids.”
I, frankly, have always loved this quote along with Debbie’s phrase “creative insubordination.”
I have always thought that good teaching was an act of rebellion.
Yes. I was a teacher in a public school system with a union and a contract that provided me with some protections. It was without a doubt more protection than I would have received in a non-union charter.
Yet, as much as some in administration and the union-haters talked about our collective bargaining agreement as if it was a union document, that was never true.
Our CBA was an agreement between the system and the teachers. It didn’t always protect me when I did the right thing because it had stuff in it that was for them and not for me or my students.
I was a union president. But I had no release time. I was always a full-time teacher in the classroom.
Some times I made a stink. Some times I kept it quiet, although my colleagues and administrators would probably be surprised to read that.
My email was subject to a FOIA request by right-wingers.
My personnel file as well.
Letters of reprimand placed in my file.
I was good at bringing a crowd.
But I often worked, as many must do, as a secret rebel in a system that is often difficult if not hostile.