"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Do Teachers Matter?

I am seeking ways to address teachers and workers—and the conditions impacting all workers—as a focus of my public work in 2014.

Recently, I came across a wonderful piece about Roberto Clemente: Common bond for uncommon men: Clemente and King shared a hatred for discrimination, by David Zirin.

In part, this piece speaks to the importance of solidarity and community, the sense of empathy any one person can feel and act upon in solidarity with others.

Zirin highlights Martin Luther King Jr.'s impact on Clemente:

David Maraniss quotes Clemente's feelings about King in his 2005 biography of the Hall of Fame outfielder: 
"When Martin Luther King started doing what he did, he changed the whole system of the American style. He put the people, the ghetto people, the people who didn't have nothing to say in those days, they started saying what they would have liked to say for many years that nobody listened to. Now with this man, these people come down to the place where they were supposed to be but people didn't want them, and sit down there as if they were white and call attention to the whole world. Now that wasn't only the black people but the minority people. The people who didn't have anything, and they had nothing to say in those days because they didn't have any power, they started saying things and they started picketing, and that's the reason I say he changed the whole world..." ...
But Clemente just couldn't handle it that way. In Maraniss' biography, Clemente was quoted thusly: "They say, 'Roberto, you better keep your mouth shut because they will ship you back.' [But] this is something from the first day I said to myself: I am in the minority group. I am from the poor people. I represent the poor people. I represent the common people of America. So I am going to be treated like a human being. I don't want to be treated like a Puerto Rican, or a black, or nothing like that. I want to be treated like any person."
How do teachers, then, form our own solidarity within our field and then foster a solidarity with all workers? How do teachers earn the solidarity of politicians, the public, and the media—all of whom often marginalize and disregard teachers' autonomy and voices?

I invite you to read and consider a few blogs recently attempting to address these concerns:

Education Reform: Our Field, Our Voices Simply Do Not Matter

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