Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Are There Enough Roots in the Grass for Real Movement? by Larry Proffitt

As a teacher who’s always been an active union member, I’ve long been in search of the good in all people. As my commitment to a more serious style of advocacy has grown, my sensitivity to social injustices in a world that affects my students has become much more acute. Our public schools and the communities which they serve depend on advocates that are true to the cause of proving the ability of public schools to not only sustain but improve our society. Education must move forward, but it must be out of service to our democracy. Are changes necessary? Sure, changes are necessary, as with any endeavor, but those changes can be accomplished with the proper commitment from our government and the consent of the governed. How do we insure this? We insure it through grassroots. My question thus becomes, ”Are there enough roots in the grass for real movement?”
 IT was Orlando, Florida during the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly. Some of the contingency of Badass Teachers had met for a social gathering after the day’s business. I gave Mr. Fred Klonsky a ride back to his hotel after the evening’s social. On the drive back to his hotel, we had an interesting conversation which still rolls through my mind regularly. I suppose my awareness to the plight of many under an education system driven by corporate oppression keeps the conversation fresh. At a point in the conversation, Mr. Klonsky asked me a question. “Do you believe we have enough advocates to make real change in our union?” The wording may not be exact, but it is the idea expressed in the question. My response was steeped in positive hope, but my heart wasn’t convinced. He and I both know many good educators in the movement to relieve the oppression looming over the heads of schools, teachers and students. As we spoke, his own uncertainty became apparent to me. Looking back on the conversation keeps me in deep thought about the movement of social justice unionism and those in the battle to preserve the “good of all.”
It is this conversation then that brings me to the question which inspires this writing. Are there enough roots in the grass? Are there enough willing to take risks and come out of the shadows to make a difference in the fight to stave off the privatization of public education, provide equitable education for all and demand our government provide resources needed for today’s students in our society? Today requires more resources of a different type. Students come to schools with their own unique set of circumstances and require the school to play a larger role in achieving their educational, emotional and social success.  If those needs are to be met, grassroots movements combining parents, educators, students, and concerned community members must be effective. As of yet, even though many groups plow forward and persevere in the struggle, the dark money of privatization grows. Influence grows within government and without. Those with influence seek to spread the message of doom and gloom around our schools, thus promoting their message of needed change through private resources. The corporate provided tests are designed to provide a foundation for that argument. Words like failing are used to describe schools, teachers and students. In reality, the failure belongs to society.  The overwhelming budgets of privatizers flood the airways with negative messaging. What will stop it? My answer is simple, a massive grassroots effort combining forces of many populations.
This is what then brings me back to the question at hand. Are there enough roots in the grass for real movement?

If you are one of the courageous, join the roots beginning to cause the swaying of the grass. Create a positive response to the question.

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