This is the post where I almost started off with a “Dear White People.”
This is going to lean towards education, but applies pervasively.
I’m referring to the educators who still want to save the children, the ones who still think they’re teaching their subjects and not actual students, the ones who see teaching as a segue to administration or a central office job, the ones who use euphemisms for kids of color to advance their profile amongst their so-called liberal friends, or the ones who won’t acknowledge their privilege because it’s way easier to hide behind the first clause I just stated.
Unfortunately, for those of you who fall under this category, there are those of us who aren’t just your colleagues at work, but sat in similar seats that your students did, didn’t appreciate your attitudes then and really don’t appreciate them now. Your insistence, whether conscious or otherwise, perpetuate the legacy of seeing children of color as deserving less. You also paradoxically think that by lowering your expectations of those students, you’re helping them meet or exceed the requirements set forth post-you.
Then, when you move up or on, depending on your purview, you tell these tales of your few years of experience in the classroom and claim yourself expert of these experiences. You simultaneously know what’s wrong with public schools (or at least the one you actually know of, briefly), yet blame everyone else during your tenure as an actual classroom teacher for your particular school’s woes. You never stayed long enough for anyone but that one administrator who “had an eye for you” to actually become a good teacher, but you’ll tell everyone within ear shot just how tough your experience at a school was.
Worse still, you have the nerve to tell teachers who actually do the work on a daily basis that their opinions matter very little. You say you want education reform and loved that teacher voice video, but only when it doesn’t preempt any of your so-called progressive opinions. You like to wonder aloud why these types of educators don’t give you much weight, or look at you skeptically when you contribute your off-center opinion. You reveal your true intentions when people who’ve actually lived that life contribute even a drop of their hard-won wisdom about a situation you’ve never actually seen. Your ears don’t perk up; your eyes roll. You doth protest too much.
In the words of Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, “You think darkness is your ally? You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it.”
We get that you’re OK with all this. You’ll continue quoting your edu-hero rather than expounding on your own, and you’ll keep making snide comments about anyone who doesn’t fit within your (very narrow) line of vision. You can keep throwing those darts, but theatricality and deception are powerful agents for the uninitiated.
But you and I (and so many others like me) are initiated. Ain’t that right?