edublog Archives - The Jose Vilson


Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

A couple of months ago, in the middle of a few good conversations, Leonie Haimson reminded me that I was one of the first NYC edubloggers to do “it.” By it, we all understood “it” to be using a blog to speak up and out about educational issues. People like NYC Educator, Norm’s Notes, JD2718, Pissed Off Teacher, and the now defunct EduWonkette, informed my early thinking about how best to approach writing to what seemed like everybody and nobody at once, namely the thousands of NYC teachers needing a voice. Yet, as is often the case, I saw a gaping hole in the middle of this conversation surrounding education (activism or pedagogy), so vacuous in fact, it might frighten anyone less persistent.

When it comes to race, or any marginalized group, those most affected (or disaffected, as it were) have to teach the privileged about its deleterious effects.

Even in a well-meaning group of educators, and trust me when I say I’ve rarely felt uncomfortable in any room of educators I’ve walked into, some of us have common misunderstandings, mistakes, and omissions about experiences that don’t fall within our line of vision. Sometimes, they honestly don’t know how to approach the issue of race. Other times, they thought about it right, but if they discuss race, then they might feel the need to have to expound and don’t feel informed enough to have the discussion. Then there’s just those who, even though they like to mention race every so often, look at writers like me and say, “What gives this guy the right to voice his opinion on race because he’s Black / Latino?”

It was evident then that writing this way wasn’t just pissing people off in general, but agitating their visions of a complacent educated negro.

When we write, we don’t just bring our use of the language with us. We bring an entirety of experiences, more often than not different from the other. The best we can do is come to the table with an understanding that we’ll actually read the arguments with two lenses: for what they are and for the lens that wrote them. Writing as an Black / Latino educator, I have to seek solutions rather than simply point problems, because if I can’t work towards them, then how can I expect my students to do the same?

We can also be honest and say that my color already puts people in a disposition to either lurk behind the writing or, worse, ignore it. The problem with, and the solution to, that is, you’re forcing me to come twice as hard, twice as loud, twice as “race-y”. Now that I subsist in the same domain that your favorite blogger elites do, in the same “lists” and “pages” they do, write in spaces that rarely gave us access, my non-violent protests can no longer be diluted to a simple sit-in. In fact, it’s as radical as anything any edublogger of color does.

This shit rare. We ain’t even supposed to be here.

Jose, who knows you’ll understand …


Your Favorite EduBlogger’s Favorite Edublog?

by Jose Vilson on May 24, 2010

in Jose

Precocious Kid's X-Mas List

Precocious Kid's X-Mas List

Another day, another list of edubloggers I may or may not have made it on.

This conversation trickled down via Teacher Magazine, then the Teacher Leaders Network, and it has some people up in arms about why some of the same bloggers get chosen for these and they exclude others. Even my friend John Holland, whose Pre-K Now made it on the list, didn’t have nice things to say about Rasmussen’s list. He says,

I think these folks had a narrow idea of what “best” would be before they made the list. My work on Pre-K Now is very easy to swallow where as some of my other writing is a little less easy. I am appalled that Nancy [Flanagan], Bill [Ferriter], and Jose aren’t on the list but, none of the three of them are easy consumption material. They are all difficult and demand something of the reader.

Jose’s tag line is “Its not about a salary, its about reality.” and that pretty much “sums” (wink) it up for this brilliant writer about the reality of being a middle school math teacher in NYC, Washington Heights. He tackles subjects that most teachers, including me, would never tocuh. Not even with a ten yard stick. He writes with such lyricism and passion that we can taste the chalk dust in his classroom. Does he talk about more than just education? Yes, but thats the point, teachers are more than just educators, they are human  beings. Teachers are within a system that they are constantly defending with students and fighting as professional. Jose is not an easy read, and that is why he should be read.

[Emphasis mine]

At this point in my writing, I’m participating in the honest conversations we need to have about the state of education, and with people who I consider awesome allies in that fight. People on the local level and the national level want to engage in constructive, critical conversation about the things that not everyone’s talking about. They want to understand the rationale behind our most desperate children, or put words to why there’s something just not right about those creepy pro-charter commercials on TV. They want to encourage others to join teaching as a profession without feeling like they’re advertising for a camp. They want their voices amongst the others who have a say in the national conversation about everything.

That’s why I write, too.

Lately, I’ve ended up on a couple of honorable mention type lists, which either means I’m doing a great job at being understated or a bad job at tailoring my message for the mainstream. Or both. Which works just as well for me. I have a great group of readers who want to further the dialogue of our critical pedagogy, who can’t sugarcoat the raw experiences of America’s youth and the positive and negative repercussions of our collective consciousness as they affect education, and who find inspiration in the work they do.

Readers like you.

Am I your favorite edublogger’s favorite edublogger? That’s not so sure, but if I am, then that’s a list I’m privileged to be a part of.

Jose, who has his book giveaway in two more days …