By Donna Griffin
This is a call to teachers to take back our profession.
We have the power; we showed that when we elected Glenda Ritz as the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Our government, the one we teach our students about, works just fine.
However, the one Gov. Mike Pence and the rest of his Super-Majority have in mind is totally different.
Under HB 1486 and 1609, our voice, the ones closest to the classroom, will be shut out, and silenced in the process that governs the foundation of any democratic society, the education of our children.
As a teacher, I’m tired of being a second-class professional in the eyes of elected officials and so-called education reformers. I just went to contact my legislators and I looked at all the so distinguished pictures – all white men. All who apparently know so much more about education than me. So I’ll send them an email, and they’ll listen? Really?
What I’d like is for them to visit my 10th period classroom one day – 42 students on the roster in a room with 36 chairs. Students with a wide range of abilities and needs – IEPs, high ability, chronic discipline issues, and the challenges of poverty, crime and violence in their neighborhoods that affect their daily lives. That is only one class – I deal with more than 120 students on a daily basis.
Because of the current climate in this state, I’m the fall guy, the reason my students don’t learn, they don’t achieve. I’m inept, unethical, weak, racist, lazy – take your pick.
My students are not dumb, they know they can disrespect me, call me a “bitch” because they’ve been told by the media, by politicians, by reformers, and by administrators that it’s my job to make them learn, not their job to get an education. Many sit back on their phones and wait for their grade. Education stopped being a two-way street a long time ago.
I know a lot of excellent teachers with integrity, with intelligence with initiative and innovation, who spend 10 -20 hours a week over class time, grading, planning, conferencing with peers and parents.
It’s high past time that our elected officials see it too.
So instead of writing your legislators asking for them to vote against these bills, invite them to your classroom, if only for 15-20 minutes. Have them talk to the students about how a bill becomes law in this state, how an elected official becomes appointed and why that is better. Have them explain what makes a good teacher and a good school and why our current state government thinks they know more than the voters who elected them.
Post their replies on Facebook and Twitter (your site and their Facebook pages) and on the pages for the local media (WTHR, WISH, WRTV FOX 59 IndyStar).
If that doesn’t work, then we all need to work together to show up at the Statehouse for some “Face Time” before these bills become law. While we are sharing our opinions on Facebook and other social media, the legislators are moving forward regardless of what we think.
I’m hitting my send button now.