On the way home, the 10th grader told me that he wanted to go back to the afternoon picket session. Then, when I got called out of town, he went almost every morning on his own, found a place in the line, and marched. It wasn’t fun, he said, but it meant something. Fighting for something, supporting the people he saw in his school every day felt important to him.
Tonight we were talking about the strike and why he wanted to be there. He said that he just kept thinking about how his physics teacher doesn’t have a protractor. He said that he probably wouldn’t have cared so much about it if he didn’t see the teachers working so hard with so little every day.
And there it is.
While one might fairly see this as a referendum on my inability to parent empathy into my kids, it also speaks to the importance of having skin in the game. Being there rather than imagining others there. And as white people going to school ‘there’, we only get a little glimpse, a tiny experience of what inequity feels like, and it is powerful.
Some have called the teacher strike a middle class revolt… and in some ways I agree. Things had to get this bad in our district, classrooms had to get this large to mobilize action. Our schools had to get this underfunded that even the big-money parent orgs in the schools with much higher concentrations of privilege could not make up for the cuts. In the heady online discussion groups, I sensed a kind of awakened aghastness. Wait—not all schools have a nurse or librarian? What kind of public education is this?!?
It’s time. Of course it’s time. And I am thrilled to see my city in action. But I can’t help but think about the schools (like my kids’) that haven’t had access to this kind of financial insulation that others have. It’s been this bad for a long, long time.
I hope we can harness this momentum to spur an honest discussion about the inequities in our district and state. I hope that conversations like this don’t fade into the background.
But guess what hasn’t faded into the background? Our podcasts! We are starting 2019 with a conversation on Why Our Choice Matters — What impact does your choice make for your kid, for your school, and for the system? And go ahead and subscribe; we have a lot of great guests lined up for season 2!
We also started the new year off with Integrated Schools meet-ups in Arlington VA, Seattle WA, and Nashville TN (and another, polar vortex permitting, in Minneapolis MN this weekend).
This is all possible because of the thousands of volunteer hours put into these efforts — and the many generous financial contributions from parents like you. If you find this work valuable, please donate to Integrated Schools today.