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The struggle is real-we must use our voice

The struggle is real. Teachers are intimidated to write or speak.  Teacher leaders must learn to use their voice. Canadian writer, Charles de Lint said, "Don't forget,  no one else sees the world you do so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell. "  All too often teachers become wrapped up in the classes they teach and fail to see how they could help the larger body of students in a school, a district, or an entire state. Teacher leaders are literally in the trenches teaching our current body of students. We intimately know that the group of students we are teaching is divergently different from the students of the past. The voting public is unaware of the changes that have occurred in the public school system in the past twenty years. Our voices must be heard.

The demographics of the United States continues to evolve. Teacher leaders are often the first to witness the evolution. In 2010,  The Center for Public Education, @NSBAComm,  released startling statistics. Our population is growing, aging and becoming more diverse. The implications for public education are numerous. Most pressing is an aging population without school age children who are increasingly unwilling to fund public education initiatives for students who simply do not resemble their own children.  Public schools are the vanguard of change. As our populations shift ever more dramatically due to immigration and the availability of private schools, the public school population is shifting as well.  The increasing number of minorities and ELLs are changing the dynamics of the classroom. This shift is primarily due to our ever growing immigrant population. America has always been an immigrant nation. This need not change. Our schools and our policies impacting schools much change to meet the needs of our shifting population in public education.

While NCLB was intended to close the achievement gap and ESSA is intended to lessen the harmful effects of NCLB, the reality is that our student population has changed. To use 2010  as the starting point for our AMO, annual measurable objectives, has unintended consequences. Our public school population has shifted significantly since 2010.
With this shift comes more students who according to the independent research center, Child Trends, are at risk for poverty, single parent homes, parents with a low level of education, large family, family unable to own or buy a home. These are risks that a public school simply can not ameliorate.  So, what is a teacher leader to do? We should, as Madonna @Madonna creatively said, "Express yourself"! If we truly love our students, we need to share what is happening in our classrooms regarding the population changes.
It is up to teacher leaders to explain what is going on in our classrooms and our schools. We need to learn, connect, and lead. We can learn how to express ourselves. We can connect with other teacher leaders to fortify ourselves. We can lead as John King, @JohnKingatED-U.S. Secretary of Education, said, "

“We don’t just want educators to be part of the necessary change – we need them to lead it. ”

With these changes in our public schools, Soledad O'Brien's, @soledadobrien,  statement is pertinent. But, the question is real. Are our current teachers prepared to lead education as a civil right? Teachers have long been social justice heroes! Recently, the United States Supreme Court and the Michigan courts proclaimed reportedly said that literacy is not a fundamental right under the Constitution for the students in Detroit. How is that possible? Is this only a sign of things to come with our newly designated Secretary of Education?

Teacher leaders like Patrick Kearney, 
@kearneyiowa-a facilitator for Teacher Leadership in the Johnston Community School District in Iowa, are beginning to address the elephant in the room.   Simon Sinek, @simonsinek,  says, "Speaking truth to those in power means saying out loud what everyone else is thinking." Teachers are powerful reflectors. We need the power of those reflections to be mirrored to those in power.
We can and will make a difference, only if we use our voices. Please express yourself!

Crouch, R., Zakariya, S. B., & Jiandani, J. (2012). The United States of education: The changing demographics of the United States and their schools. Retrieved December 13, 2016, from

Suzanne Rogers


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


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