Oklahoma education stakeholders, the fight has already started. Ms. Swisher and I were definitely on the same page today: read her post. Ms. Swisher, this is phenomenal. Although I don’t know you personally, your commitment to the “family business” is incredible.
Teaching has not been my family’s business, but it is now. My wife and I are first generation teachers. It is not just our job, but it is our livelihood and our passion. When someone begins to denigrate my family’s livelihood, I tend to get protective. That is exactly what these lawmakers have done.
Make no mistake Oklahoma, this type of message is calculated and it is intended to set up teachers as the villain. On March 31, there will be a Rally for Education at the State Capitol. I believe that it will prove to be a pivotal point in Oklahoma’s education history. Some lawmakers, public figures, private entities, and citizens will continue to be relentless as March 31 approaches. For this reason we must fight.
I started this blog in hopes that rookie educators would stand up: not just for the students, but also for the profession. Please understand that we will be called selfish, we will be called “liberal union bosses” (oh wait! we already have), and we will expectedly be told that we don’t care about our students. I hope that every single person reading this understands that we are much stronger united. We will put aside political affiliations, and we lift up our desire to stand up for issues that directly impact our students and our profession. Just read the comments from the aforementioned article…these people will tell us that we are just in this to increase our pay.
This is what we will tell them:
We love our
We love our students.
We love getting paychecks…just like everyone else.
We love spending our own money on our students, if it means that students will learn.
We love sharing our personal failures with our students, because it could mean that they become better people by listening.
We will tell them that someone else watches our newborn children (6-9 weeks after birth), while we help raise others’ children. And we have to use our own sick leave, and when we don’t have enough, we have to get approval for our friends to donate their sick leave.
We will tell them that some teachers live off of food stamps, because they can’t make ends meet…but they still give their own food to their students.
We will tell them that our students are being marginalized, not by our instruction, but by the high-stakes, high-stressed tests that obtain absolutely no determining factors of post-secondary success.
We will tell them that even though we are absolutely opposed to these tests, that we will still fulfill the laws entrusted to us, and we will be the individuals that hand out the harsh punishment of over-testing these children that we love so dearly.
We will tell them stories about students who come back and thank us: not for helping them pass these tests, but for helping them not join gangs, not give up on them when they became pregnant too young, and not telling them that they are “Unsatisfactory” third graders.
We will also let our opposition know, that we are the individuals calming parents when their 3rd grader has been retained from a single test. (Some of these parents may even think that it is our fault that their child is being retained!)
We will let them know how difficult it is to convince these students are gifted, smart, and valuable, unlike society and RSA is telling them, because they have scored “Unsatisfactory” on a test.
We will tell them that our students matter.
We will tell them that we will still continue to invest in students, even when we know that some will grow up to be lawmakers that oppose us.
We will continue to teach them, even when we are slandered.
Please know that we must fight. This fight isn’t just about teachers: but it will also show students how much we care about them. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
And to Ms. Swisher and all of the countless veteran teachers that have fought for our profession, I hope that we as younger teachers make you proud.