honesty Archives - The Jose Vilson


Honesty In The Time Of Professionalism

by Jose Vilson on May 20, 2013

in Jose

Arne Duncan

Arne Duncan

In this economy, everyone’s scared to lose their jobs.

Leaders often say they want feedback and honesty, but only if it fits their beliefs about the reality they’ve interpreted. For instance, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently tweeted this:


I laughed and replied:


Perhaps he does. Perhaps he believes that the schools his administration created in Chicago mattered a lot for the most impoverished kids. Perhaps he thinks charter schools offer a way to circumvent obtrusive localities that want to stall innovation. Perhaps he thinks Race To The Top shakes districts into following an agenda. He could have the best intentions in mind, and could see himself as helping continue the legacy of Brown vs. Board of Education. Perhaps he read my tweet, too, and decided to rethink how he approaches this thing he calls “listening to teachers.”

I doubt it. All of it.

Sadly, I have little (read: no) faith in our current administration’s policies, irrespective of how much they say they appreciate educators, and want for the children. The reform path offers little solutions that interest me and the thousands of American educators trying to make a difference in our children’s lives.  I have a few more anti-reform pro-child things to tell you, most of them documented here.

What often separates the message, however, is the source. By source, I mean, when people come out for or against a position, do they do it from a place of love and care or hate and derision? Do they say things because they have an honest belief in making things better or do they have an ulterior motive in their positions?

We have people like Michelle Rhee who takes shots at National Education Association, The American Federation of Teachers, and  Occupy The DOE and other education activists without actually talking about what her organization, StudentsLast, does against the public good. Dr. Steve Perry, another person who sees himself as the solution and not a part of it, thinks a huge lit review is the same as a dissertation for his doctorate. The mainstream media, book publishers, celebrities, and venture capitalists treat them as darlings, but people on the ground have grown more skeptical as the days go by.

Sometimes, though, I fear that people on “my” side of things have similar ambitions. Some questions to ask:

  • Do we emphasize the word “teacher” or “leader” in teacher-leader?
  • Do we talk down to teachers and tell them how they should approach their jobs when they haven’t done it themselves?
  • Do we believe the way to have a bigger voice is to get a doctorate?

In no way do I seek purity in ideology, but I do take issue when people see their positions solely as a means for self-advancement. The honesty I often seek comes from a source of love, a source of restoration, and getting to a place where all children have equitable conditions for academic (and personal) success. College and career readiness sounds hollow in light of creating conditions for better people.

The challenge for us is, really, how do we continue to do this without feeling like we could lose our jobs for this? Or vex our colleagues with this?


Former NE Patriot Joe Andruzzi Helps Another Runner At The Boston Marathon

Former NE Patriot Joe Andruzzi Helps Another Runner At The Boston Marathon

This week, I’m writing blog posts based on people’s submissions to my Facebook page right here. My first one is based on online friend Michael Doyle’s suggested title, “How politeness kills even the pretense of justice.” Let’s go …

The Boston Marathon shouldn’t have ended that way. A moment of celebration turned into a maelstrom of yells, lost appendages, and death. The American public, at once reminded that they too are not immune to the casualties of extreme anger and hate, rallied around the people injured in a way it didn’t know how to more than a decade ago during the World Trade Center implosions. Yet, when the dust had only begun settling, many of my friends acknowledged that, during this time of perpetual war, this doesn’t change the habits of those in “danger zones” like New York City, Washington DC, or Boston. If anything, it’s made us more globalists, tuning into the deadly conflicts happening in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, The Congo, and Thailand.

Yet, in the interest of being polite, I’m not sure if the general American public wanted to hear about war-torn countries, pre- or post-Boston Marathon 2013.

This won’t be my “chickens coming home to roost” moment; rather, I wonder if we can take more proactive steps towards actual peace. Politeness insists that we keep our mouth shut, nursing feelings, and letting time elapse until the next major event. Justice, however, demands that we learn how to heal those wounds, and prevent those from happening. It also means, to the chagrin of warmongers everywhere, we approach others with love for one another.

Justice takes serious reflection, a deep soul-searching, and a hard look at the image we project when it comes to the word “peace.”

Politeness can even hurt us in our personal relationships, too. These days, people love ranting on social media, jumping on high horses, and hoping to get as many likes, retweets, and memes as possible, never truly resolving the original matter, but trying to show a tough exterior in the name of “honesty.” They love claiming independence, judge others readily, and act like the “enemies” they seek to vanquish.

Honesty becomes so diluted that integrity falls by the wayside. Real honesty, and justice, asks us to speak to the truth to heal, not to disband, to build, not to distort histories, to change understandings, not cement positions. Real honesty is hard.

What does it mean to speak truth to power in times like these?

Jose, who prefers we act on peace as often as possible …