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The Struggle is Real; a struggle against silence


The Struggle is Real; a struggle against silence
The struggle in education is real. Teachers must use their voices to tell the stories of their classrooms. Teachers are the only ones with a clear view of the path ahead. Unfortunately, teachers, all too often, feel silenced by the system. Or, they feel they must only tell the happy stories of education. This is the second post in this series.  Our classrooms may or may not resemble the community surrounding the school. All too often, our schools are an oasis of poor students within a more affluent society being taught by teachers not familiar with the culture of the students. But, what is the purpose of public education?

Affluenza has led many public school supporters to send their children to private school,  to virtual school, and to home school. Today, Alfie Kohn, @alfiekohn,  tweeted this statistic.
Proportion of all US public school students whose families are low-income: In 1989, <1/3. In 2013, >1/2.
All too often, the response to this type of startling statistic is denial. My own parents, born in the early 1930's, simply do not believe this statistic. It is not what they see. It is not what they experience on a day to day basis. In other words, it is not the life they lead. White privilege/affluenza puts blinders on our eyes. In 2015, the National Center for Children in Poverty, @NCCP,  found that 44 percent of the nation’s children live in low-income households, according to 2013 data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey. So, our public school systems are educating a higher percentage of low-income students due to the continued white and affluent flight from public schools.

The easy response to this rising statistic is to deny it or claim it doesn't matter to your family, or to your country. But, public education's goal, according to Thomas Jefferson, was to instill a liberty tree in every educated American heart as America's greatest defense against tyranny. (Do you still believe this to be true?)
Take this simple one-question test to determine your belief  published by @TakePart in its article 
"America’s Parents Are Confused About the Purpose of School."  Please read the full article for various poll results.

The purpose of sending children to school is to

A. Help them develop knowledge and critical-thinking skills.
B. Prepare them for citizenship.
C. Prepare them for work.
D. All of the above.

As the United States prepares for changes surrounding the Presidential appointment for Education Secretary, a sound understanding of our common beliefs regarding public education is paramount. Why should schools test to check for progress toward College entrance exams if the majority of those polled think we should be preparing our students for work.

Teachers, please use your voice! Speak to the realities of your classrooms. Engage in public dialogue about your school and about your views of education. Please, struggle against the silence.

Suzanne Rogers

@Rogers_Suzanne

District Director of Professional development, AP English teacher, ELA Coach and cradle United Methodist. 

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