A year or so ago I received an email from a group of university professors who had drafted a statement critical of the dominant education reform agenda.
I was asked to sign it and include my university affiliation.
Of course, I agreed with the statement. I sent back my name. In place of my university affiliation (having none) I wrote, “K-5 art teacher, Carpenter Elementary School.”
I received a follow-up email from the group telling me that while they appreciated my support, since I had no university affiliation, they would reserve my endorsement for later if they decided to expand their list to non-university educators.
Meaning classroom teachers.
I never heard of or from them again.
Don’t take this the wrong way. I think the statement by leading educators in support of the MAP boycott is terrific.
The list includes the names of people I admire and many that I personally know.
But what makes the action of the teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School so powerful and exciting is that it is the action of teachers in the classroom of a public school.
Jimi Hendrix’s high school, for God sakes.
This is teachers taking responsibility for their profession. It is teachers taking responsibility for their students’ learning. That’s what teachers are supposed to be able to do and which so-called reforms make it harder for teachers to do.
By the way. It happens anyway, every day, in ways big and small by classroom teachers all over the country.
Rarely with press conferences or names included in online petitions. Quietly. Subversively.
The sad part of this story is that the leaders of the National Education Association, including President Dennis Van Roekel and Vice President Lily Eskelsen, should be doing what the professors did: Speak out in support of the classroom teachers in Seattle and elsewhere.
Garfield’s teachers are NEA members after all.
If NEA leaders remain silent until July, maybe we can bring it up at the NEA RA.
Did I mention I’m running statewide in Illinois as a retired delegate?
No university affiliation.