Jacob Goodwin: The Movement for Public Schools Isn’t Dead
New Hampshire’s History Teacher of the Year Jacob Goodwin writes that we still need the spirit of the Red for Ed movement. It has done great things, but Goodwin contemplates the challenges of this new year.
For those of us who will be in the classroom this coming year, we need the public to see what we see. Throughout my state of New Hampshire, public educators are confronting a new school year without enough guidance counselors, with support staff getting crushed by the cost of living, and with money that could be used to help our students being used to fund voucher programs. It’s the same scenario playing out all across the country.
The question now, it seems to me, is what do we do about all of this?
For one, we can’t stand idly by. We can’t believe that officials above us will save us. We must see opportunities to build something new, to create resilient communities, to strengthen relationships between educators.
We cannot close our classroom doors and expect the problems of the world to go away. We have seen too many times before that there is no stopping the downward slide of gloom unless we meet it with the kind of positive energy force that we bring to classrooms—we need a collective energy that exceeds the force of the push for privatization.
This energizing force can only come from one place and from one direction: from the grassroots.
It was the animating force of Red for Ed, it is the power of organized labor, it is the simple idea that everyday folks can come together to address the issues that they see everyday—issues that other folks don’t seem to acknowledge.
Each time teachers and support staff stand together to bring issues of working people to light, we bring meaning to the idea of a union as a collective working toward a common goal and sharing the same collective fate.
Unions, at their best, are built around a love for our fellow colleagues and our fellow workers. It is expressed when the voices of the seldom heard echo in the halls: the halls of schools, of board rooms, and ultimately, in the halls of power.