“He say one and one and one is three. Got to be good lookin’ cause he’s so hard to see–come together, right now, over me.”
I took some time this afternoon to try to catch up on the many education blogs that I follow. It never fails that I uncover a few more fascinating writers and thinkers by following a link or two found in somebody else’s blog. Oops! There goes another hour!
One new blog that I stumbled on today is Politics of Decline, Redux written by lfcaruso, a New Jersey school administrator. [Thank goodness that the edreform of public education in Delaware is in no way, shape, or form like the New Jersey ed scene. That’s one hot mess, as my friend Sarah would say.]
In the first paragraph of a post from February 1st titled, So, what can teachers do during decline? , I was hooked by the statement: “Teachers have been marginalized during the push to transform urban public schools as typically peripheral policy actors have become primary reform initiators.” Typically peripheral policy people. Yep. The former sideliners have stormed the stage and taken over the show. And, here I am sitting out in the audience–sometimes way in the back rows. Well, at least there are plenty of seats.
Caruso makes three very apt recommendations about what teachers can do: (1) “focus on professional unions”, (2) “mobilize with other unions”, and (3) “forge relationships through social networks”. It’s a short post, and well worth your time to read it. The three recommendations are perfect, but the details of each may surprise you. They did me, but, I heartily agree with each one.
(1) Focus on professional unions: And on union professionalism. Caruso states: “,…teachers need to draw explicitly on professionalism that will enhance school improvement regardless of reform. I am not advocating teachers to discard their rights to protect their wages and benefits; however, I am suggesting that unions must advocate not only for their own members, but also for the quality of education for their students.” Jeez, he even uses the same language that I do—it’s school improvement that I stand for. ‘Brown is the new black.’ School improvement is the new edreform—and we own it!
(2) Mobilize with other unions: This is the “come-together” part. Caruso suggests: “Since teacher unions have few political alliances within the reform debate, administrators’ and teachers’ unions need to partner to mobilize and voice their concerns.” As it turns out, unlike New Jersey admins, Delaware administrators are not unionized, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t pull together to pool our resources and rally our unified strength. This may be a tough sell for some, because in some cases, the two groups have been driven apart by federal, state, and local forces, the perceived threats of NCLB, and maybe of RttT, as well.
(3) Forge relationships through social networks: It’s so easy to feel isolated and alone in education—this is just happening in my class, in my school, in my district. However, Caruso reminds us: “Educational reformers are building coalition networks through social networks like Facebook, Twitter and blogs.” Earlier this fall, I was both appalled and thrilled to discover that our local travails were shared by teaching colleagues and parents in NYC, Chicago, Denver, and Seattle. Edreform, much like our experiences here, is everywhere.
I did one of those forehead smacks–you know the one–“I shoulda had a V-8!” Sometimes the obvious becomes obscured by the day-to-day trials and tribulations of the classroom.