#WakingGiant the summer of the teacher

Jose- I was just about to write a post about the powerful teacher voices rising in America and BAM! the first tweet I read is yours, Of course, I’m watching Glee. Because picking on @EDPressSec and the platitudes are too easy. #wakinggiant I was planning to write this post with Waking Giant in the title […]

Jose-

I was just about to write a post about the powerful teacher voices rising in America and BAM! the first tweet I read is yours,

Of course, I’m watching Glee. Because picking on @EDPressSec and the platitudes are too easy. #wakinggiant

I was planning to write this post with Waking Giant in the title when I saw your twitter post with the @SOSmarch hashtag #WakingGiant. I am sure you are aware that this is a reference to the 2001 book Awakening the Sleeping Giant Helping Teachers Develop as Leaders by Marilyn Katzenmeyer and Gayle Moller. I know this book was a huge influence on my career and has prepared the way for many of the leaders involved in the Save Our Schools March scheduled for July 28th – 31st. I heard you are involved with that group. What are you up to? I found this explanation of the #WakingGiant hashtag by @Teacherken.

Up until Obama’s election I had never experienced what it was like to have my beliefs embodied in public discourse. I never felt as if I had been represented. Then Obama talked about issues that are important to me, education, poverty, and race. His belief in Pre-K was one of the reasons I could whole heartedly support his campaign. But, when he took office he had a giant mess to clean up and my issues were pushed to the back burner. Actually, they fell completely of the stove. I think many folks understood and were patient but, I think some political forces took advantage on the quiet of the education front. Federal education policy took a decidedly retroactive turn and focused in competition and accountability with particular focus on charter schools. Since 2008 there were some events that have Awakened the Sleeping Giant of professional educators. This includes approximately 6 million teachers in public and private schools.

Step 1. Waiting for Superman: A propaganda film wakes teachers and parents up to the smear campaign against teachers aimed at privatizing public education.

Step 2. NBC’s Education Nation 2010: An education summit that spilled rhetoric from “distinguished individuals” that devalued teachers and did not include teacher voice in panel discussions about the achievement gap, innovation, and the digital divide.

Step 3. Wisconsin: Governor Scott Walker strips Wisconsin’s teachers of their collective voice through back door deals and dirty politics by Wisconsin’s legislature.

In my opinion these are the events that woke the giant. I told Barnett Berry and Renee Moore in February that I thought Waiting for Superman might be the best thing that ever happened for America’s public school teachers because, it finally crossed the line. It showed teachers how the popular media and private sector were portraying them. It also showed parents that they needed to stand up and demand the type and quality of education they wanted because what they were being sold was not the education their students deserved. This was part of my reasoning for the #iknowateacher hashtag. The narrative has got to change. Teachers, students, and parents have got to be the ones to change it.

As a twitter user, towards the end of February I could see that teachers knew something had changed. They were no longer being seen, as they had been since Jefferson’s times, as protectors of democracy for America’s future. Now teachers were expected to be to be faceless, voiceless, producers of America’s future consumers.

That is why I am even more hopeful for the future of teaching in the year 2030. Until this summer teachers have been quiet, using wedges like collective bargaining and teacher leadership to “earn empowerment.”  Now and in the future, teachers will no look for empowerment, they will claim their power as experts on learning and the strongest voice for America’s students.

I’ve got this song stuck in my head. I think you might know it. “I’ve got a feeling, a feeling deep in side oh yeah.” – the Beatles

Image: http://www.thomastalksoncitrusschools.com/?p=2086

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