An Open Letter to Public Educators in America
Dear Fellow Educators,
I love you. I love you so much I’m writing all of you a love letter. You are an amazing group of professionals. I know your work isn’t always easy and I know you spend days and nights working to give the children your very best. I appreciate you. You are a child’s hope, dream, and pathway to a brighter future. What you do matters so very much, but never forget that you also matter.
I recently wrote a book because I love you all and you matter so much to the children, your communities, to our nation, and mostly to the future of our profession. Putting my book out there for all to see, criticize and read wasn’t easy. My ideas, my flaws, my thoughts are out in the open, naked and bare, for all the world to see. It’s not a perfect piece of writing, but it’s mine. It’s raw and real, a ground level perspective of a teacher and administrator. I’m no policy maker, but I am a practitioner at heart and I know what it’s like to try and turn policy into practice. Despite the flaws in my writing, I own it, and I am so proud of myself for the courage it took for me to finally put my writing on public display via the publishing of a book.
Maybe it’s an illusion, but I can’t help but think so many people feel the way I’ve described my journey as an educator in this book. I’ve always worked with my heart leading my head and a relentless pursuit to not only get it all done, but do so with excellence. I did not realize just how out of balance my life became until I was 17 years into this profession, but from this struggle a book was born. Now, I’m committed to advocacy as a public educator, and I’m asking for your commitment too.
In doing so, there’s something I must say to all of my fellow colleagues in public education. There are lots of things you are doing right, but if we want to elevate this profession and stop being subjected to the direction and guidance of non practitioners, there are a few things we must STOP doing.
1. Please stop saying, “I didn’t choose to teach for the money”. Every single time you say this, you send the message that continuing to poorly compensate educators in comparison to their degree bearing and credentialed counterparts is just fine by us. It’s not ok and it won’t stop being ok unless we say so and execute the courage to demand better compensation.
2. Please stop saying “I’m just going to close my door and teach my kids.” The policies placed upon public education impacts our practice and because of that practitioners must be advocates of sound and reasonable policies that promote rather than demean our profession and actually work in the classroom.
3. Please stop seeing yourself as an insignificant voice in the future of our profession. If we’re going to improve recruitment, retention, professional development, educator preparation, and compensation it starts with our voices and experiences being at the table and being held as meaningful and significant.
4. Please stop feeling guilty for telling your truth. It does not make you negative to talk about the impact of standardized testing on the profession and the students. You should not be ashamed to say educators need to be better compensated. You should not feel as if being an advocate makes you somehow less positive as an educator. If we don’t speak up for the current state of our profession, who will? Given the Teacher shortages across our country, the move to privatize a public and democratic service, I can’t imagine being silent. We cannot stand idly by while our precious students and our noble profession becomes a capitalistic pawn in somebody’s get rich scheme. We must demonstrate the courage we wish for our students to exhibit.
Remember, we have voices and the time to use them is now. I’m asking for your bravery and courage because I want public education in America to be the best in the world. We can’t wait any longer. The time to speak up and speak out is now. If you don’t know where to start, I don’t have all the answers but I have ideas and their in my new book. It’s called Burned Out, Beaten Up, Fighting Back: A Call To Action For America’s Public Educators and it’s available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Tweet me using the #call2action4ed hashtag and leave a review on Amazon. Order your copy here: amazon.com/dp/197690000X/
Let’s get to work! I love y’all!
Until next time, be you, be true, be a hope builder,