Policy, Advocacy, and the Power Potential of Educators
Publication Date: 2011-03-28
This was part of a panel presentation at the BEEMS Conference, El Paso, Texas, March 26, 2011.
2) Tell the parents in your area about La Casita in Chicago -- they show a very real and important issue and the power that parents have to effect change. These parents serve as a current illustration of parents who maybe don't push for communication from school but who sure pushed politically when they decided to fight for a library
3) A number of teachers around the country are arranging the showing of "Race to Nowhere" as a stimulus for parent discussion about pressures put on children.
4) Call/visit/write the parents for updates about their child and if this is a concern or not and why.
POSITIVE communication starts with the teacher.
a. Even more importantĂ˘€Â¦ make a call or visit to let the parents know we enjoy their child and are happy to have them in class. Parents rarely get positive calls or visits from teachers about their children.
5) Write letters to the editor responding to education issues. Don't let local news people get away with anything. The champion letter writer in the country is on the panel (Steve Krashen). Susan Ohanian's website has an archive of his best letters and he invites us to borrow his ideas and strategies. (I thank Steve for getting me to use twitter.)
6) Write op-ed pieces explaining the complex educational issues that your community faces. Often the general public buys in to what the media reports without digging deeper -- this is not a condemnation of the general public -- rather it is a challenge and opportunity for us to use research to support our work -- through writing -- and educate the public.
a. A good example of this kind of educating is Steve Krashen who makes the research on literacy and libraries accessible and easy to understand. Follow him on Twitter and if youĂ˘€™re a member of NCTE, join the Open Forum on the Connected Community, where Steve tries to convince the Executive Committee to do the right thing. He cites the research. His website also has the research listed.
7) The Save Our Schools Million Teacher march and 3-day workshop in Washington, D.C. this summer (end of July). Most of us can't get to Washington but we can rally a group together and quietly or vocally march to the town square with signs of support and information fliers.
8) Attend local and state school board meetings and begin to work with board members to understand the theory, research, and practices that limit our studentsĂ˘€™ success in school to help them understand that Poverty and lack of access to books are the key limitations on our studentsĂ˘€™ success in school.
9) Run for school board. Barbara Flores in California is a great example. She ran for school board (San Bernadino City Unified School Board member) and won a seat. Since then she has used her knowledge of the learning and teaching process to effect change at the local level. It is hard, slow, but vital.
10) Vote someone in or out of office or Run for office. Teachers have a large collective voice. Use it!
11) Join listservs and other organizations that promote democratic education and equal rights for learners and teachers.
a. Institute for Language and Education Policy.
b. TLN listserv --Ken Goodman's "A Declaration of Professional Conscience for Teachers" was written 20+ years ago and it is still as vital today as back then.
c. NCTE/NABE/Unions, etc. -- these kinds of organizations badly need people to do more than just pay dues. They need members to join discussion groups and, like Steve Krashen and others do at NCTE, challenge policy that the Executive Board is accepting straight from corporate politicos.
d. Watch for immigration law reform in your state -- Texas -- but some attendees may be from neighboring states. Arizona's law is being pushed all over the country-even Indiana. If it isnĂ˘€™t democratic or fair then push against it.
e. Do what Carole Edelsky has done in
retirement. . . joing the "Raging Grannies" and while most of us may not be as eloquent as Carole when writing/rewriting lyrics and then singing them -- we can do what we can.
12) Watch for changes in official language laws. While I wasn't looking (something I regret), the Indiana General Assembly voted in an "official language" -- English. I'm looking for the abolition of translations of legal documents and information in the near future. I will be looking for that very closely.
This list is just the beginning -- add your own ideas to it -- remove some. . . most of all don't be afraid to do something. Don't just sit there and let things happen to you, to your students, and their families.
Together we can effect change.
References & Sources
1. La Casita, Chicago (Everitt Elementary School & libraries)
(For other articles google La Casita for more articles.)
2. Ken Goodman's "A Declaration of Professional Conscience for Teachers"
(It is towards the bottom of the page)
To sign the petition go to :
3. Susan Ohanian Website: http://susanohanian.org
Resister's Letters: http://susanohanian.org/letters.php
4. Stephen Krashen's website: http://www.sdkrashen.com
5. Save Our Schools March website: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch.org/
6. My Twitter address: Deb East @ForTrueEdReform
7. Institute for Language and Education Policy: http://www.elladvoc.org
8. Richard C. Owen Publisher: http://www.rcowen.com (Ken Goodman's Declaration is on this website.)
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