I’m reluctant to post on this topic, because I don’t feel like I’m doing enough. I feel ashamed of the times I couldn’t make it to teacher marches at our state capital. I feel guilty about the times when I didn’t canvas the neighborhood to promote pro-public school candidates.
Sometimes the system feels so big, so corrupt and so mechanical that it change seems insurmountable. So, what can I do?
I have a voice. I can use it locally. I can talk about education reform at family parties, in neighborhood hangouts and in the awkward transition times before and after church.
I have a voice. I can use it online. I can tweet out my thoughts (it’s why I’ve been using the hashtag #myreform and I’d love if people tossed out some thoughts on what they will do to change education). I can blog about it. I get it. I don’t have the funding of Bill Gates and I won’t be invited to sit at a table with the president. However, there’s a small band of people who will listen.
I have a voice. I can offer solutions. I can tell stories of what has worked in my classroom and at my school. I can share thoughts on fellow educators and the amazing work they’re doing. I can reframe the story from either/or to “yeah, it’s broken, but here’s what’s actually working . . . “
I have a voice. I can use it at my school. I can push alternative assessments and standards-based grading. I can create meaningful projects. I can demonstrate why human, humble discipline works better than bribes and extortion. Ultimately, what I have that Arne Duncan lacks, is a daily connection to the community, the land and the people.
I have a voice. I can create videos, podcasts and visuals in an effort to articulate a philosophy of education based upon democracy, authenticity and meaning rather than market norms and factory efficiency. A sketchy video comparing “standardized” and “common” might not hit the mainstream media. However, I can be indie in hopes that when people get fed up with the banal, biased journalism of NBC, they might be open to a new perspective.
I have a voice. I can ask questions. I can listen quietly with a sense of nuance and paradox. Oftentimes, I’m still too quick to make a bold statement, knowing that it might get more attention on Twitter. But, on my better days, I can listen well, learn the language of reformers, engage in respectful dialogue and try and build bridges.
I have a voice. I can find others with shared ideas and values regarding education. We can have a voice. A collective voice. We can protest. We can march. We can stop playing the role of martyrs and start playing the role of leaders in education reform.