Thursday, February 22, 2018

We have to work double time at this juncture in the American journey

Typically I like to watch the news in the morning to see what's going on, but today I turned it off as the news replayed President Trump discussing the idea of arming teachers in schools. It was just too much to handle because it seems like to teach well educators have to be advocating 24-7 against the political will and greed of so many who have little understanding or care about what really happens in schools.

Educators rarely have what they need to do a good job. We are always strapped for time, resources, and support. You seldom hear an educator say that he/she has all that they need to do the good job possible. Instead it's typically an issue of how can we get this or how can we do that? For example educators are always choosing which students get the attention since there's typically one teacher and many students, and amongst the many students there are often many who have extraordinary academic, social, physical, or emotional needs--the kinds of needs that are not easily met, and the kinds of needs that require extra support, funding, and expertise. Teachers everywhere do extra to meet the needs of these students--they continually reach out beyond the school budgets, time, and resources to be able to help children, the kind of children whose parents may not be providing support or who may face poverty, lack of health care, unsafe homes, and less basic supports including good nutrition, necessary clothing, and care.

Educators generally know how to do a good job by students, but what they know and what they can do is often compromised by lack of funding and adequate support. Last night, worried by President Trump's words about arming educators and militarizing schools, I did a little research and my research showed clearly that one reason the United States has more gun violence is simply because we have more guns on the streets and those guns are less regulated and restricted than in other countries that are similar to the United States. Less guns spells less gun violence, and one reason why we don't have less guns is that the NRA has lots of money and power, and they use that money and power to forward more and more gun purchases and less and less regulation--the kind of regulations that would keep guns out of the hands of those that would use them in harmful ways.

Further, there is a problem with how we care for our children in this country. Our government is not focused on the welfare of children, the elderly, and the vulnerable. Instead, it seems that most of our governmental leaders are focused more on their own self and wealth. As I read recently, most schools in our country are starved of the funding they need to teach well and care for children. We need the kinds of supports in schools that help out when a child is hungry, uncared for, mentally ill, or physically disabled. We need greater support for families that are struggling too. These social problems quickly become part of the school landscape and lack of funding and other supports make it very difficult for teachers and community members to serve these children in ways that matter. As a society, we have to look for ways to help more children in positive ways. That, in turn, will help to uplift our communities. While many government leaders today are not doing their job, there are many particularly here in Massachusetts that are working around the clock to do what is right and good.

I am heartbroken that we are living at a time when the President of the United States would prefer to arm teachers rather than look deeply at analyzing and solving a social problem. Why won't he follow the lead of Australia who took important steps to make their schools safer? Why won't he focus on adequate funding for schools so that every child gets what he/she needs in school and via social services when needed? Why doesn't he show respect and support policy that makes America stronger for all and not just for a few wealthy individuals?

More than ever educators need the collective voice of their unions and professional organizations to stand up for what is right and good for our profession. We can't let organizations like the greedy NRA fill educators with fear as they promote more and more guns and gun use across the nation with their misleading, discriminatory, and fear mongering ads and tactics. And by ourselves, we can't stand up to big, rich organizations like that--we need our unions and our solidarity to stand up to the craziness that abounds.

Educators everywhere want to do what is right by students. We want our schools to be vibrant centers of study and development. We are so proud of our young, dynamic students, like the courageous students from Stoneman Douglas High School who are not standing idly by in the face of the carnage they experienced at their school, but instead who are standing up, speaking out, and acting to make positive change.

While school shootings are a grave issue. This is not the only issue our society faces with regard to gun violence and mistreatment of youth. There is much we can do across many disciplines to elevate life for all Americans. This work begins with good analysis, collaboration, and leadership/governing bodies. We need our leaders to listen to their constituents and to act with good intelligence and purpose for the promise our country holds. We must vote out the selfish, greedy politicians who lead only for their own self and wealth with little care about our country and the people in it.

There is a temptation to turn the television off forever and to not listen or act to face this great struggle to reroute our country and its policies in ways that better life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all. But we cannot give up, and we have to push forward in the ways that we can to support positive change.

As I write, I will do the following:
  • Get more involved with my state and local union to make positive change and development so that educators have what they need to teach every child well in safe, positive, uplifting educational environments.
  • Back positive politicians who work for the rights, opportunity, respect, and freedom for all.
  • Work to promote a positive, uplifting academic program for my students.
  • Collaborate with all stakeholders to continue to develop dynamic learning communities within and outside of school.
  • Speak up against the selfishness, greed, back-vision, narrow outlook of our current president and many politicians to foster better leadership for our country and world.
  • Continue to learn about, engage with, and publicize policies and possibilities that hold promise for a better America and world.
  • Contribute to organizations that promote positive, life enriching development and change.
  • Spend time and energy supporting positive, proactive, honest individuals and organizations who demonstrate integrity and commitment to good living and contribution. 
  • Disengage with and speak out against those who continually promote negativity, lethargy, disrespect, and disinterest in positive endeavor and efforts, selfish individuals and organizations who do little to promote what is positive and possible. 
There's a part of me that would like to bury my head in the sand at this juncture in the American journey, but that's not who I am or what I believe in. I believe that we all have to do our part if we want to keep our country and world strong for the people that live in it, and right now many of us have to work double-time in the face of the greed and negativity that exists and has taken hold. It's not what we wish for, but it is what we have to do.