This Writer’s Obligation

Jose 5 Comments

Today, I read another ridiculous anti-educator post, this one by Thomas Friedman, another journalist who has something to say about education. There’s a boatload of people just like him now at the center of the discussion for education, people who didn’t have much of an opinion since the last time they told their teacher that a dog ate their homework. If they can do it, why can’t teachers do that too?

I posit: Educators have an obligation to discuss more than education.

To a few, this might be obvious, but the general populace doesn’t seem to think so. For one, many teachers consider themselves too busy to engage in a heavy dose of public advocacy. Yet, even the ones that do get the generic tag “whiner.” It sucks because it immediately stigmatizes anyone who has an ounce of intellect or perspective on a critical issue. In other cultures, teachers are respected and in some cases, are the cultural equivalent of royalty and government officials. Here, teachers can only voice their opinion if they’ve a) left the profession b) became a PhD or c) did something absurdly outrageous / courageous.

On the Internet, it’s more exacerbated. Because successful bloggers must follow the Problogger School of Blogging, we’re often asked to remain on topic. Humans are a creature of habit, so when they go somewhere on the Internet, they expect to read things pertaining to that particular topic. A friend of mine also reminded me that we have a hard time not making a metaphor for school in one form or another about everything. I guess so, but if there’s anything people like Clay Burell can teach anyone, it’s that we can go beyond this idea of school.

So what’s an educator like me supposed to do?

Well, I think the key depends on the person. For me, it’s pushing myself into the national dialogue, letting my voice escalate to a pitch that people can’t ignore, speaking for the voiceless, writing until this mess makes sense. I can’t help but speak on poverty, race, and culture since so much of what influences what happens within schools is a reflection of what’s happening in the battle for those huge ideas. I figure I’m at least afforded the opportunity to undo what Friedman did with that erroneous article. Many of my mentors like to say that not only can I write about such things, I must, and I have a duty to speak up as no one else will.

Jose.

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Jose VilsonThis Writer’s Obligation

Comments 5

  1. NYC Educator

    You’re nothing like Friedman in that you write about what you know. What Friedman knows I have no idea, but that doesn’t stop him. He was colossally wrong about Iraq, consistently wrote nonsense that turned out to have no basis in reality, and has shown no evidence being absolutely wrong has taught him anything at all. Nor has MSM turned any scrutiny on his likes at all, preferring to stereotype and demonize teachers.

    The problem with many of us is we do not, in fact, speak up. We’re too afraid. Of what I have no idea. When people are targeting you, it’s best to speak out before they shoot you, rather than wait and hope for the best.

  2. Esteban Rodriguez

    Jose,

    I appluad your commitment. However, I have one question. How can you write for a website that prints BS like this on their front page?

    “Every year, American schools pay more than $8.6 billion in bonuses to teachers with master’s degrees, even though the idea that a higher degree makes a teacher more effective has been mostly debunked.”

    HP mostly buries articles like yours. It is like having a Democrat on Fox. They put them on to say they are “fair and balanced” even though the entire operation is dedicated to make Dems look bad.

    HP is probably one of the strongest cheerleaders for destructive educational policies. They launched their education section about the same time Oprah and NBC started their crusade against teachers. People like Michelle Rhee and Geoffery Canada are heroes to them.

    On the front page, HP does not allow opposition to their narrative. On multiple occasions, I have been personally censored in their comments sections on many occasions for trying to tell the truth about these awful education policies.

    They are playing you.

  3. Post
    Author
    Jose

    What you said: “The problem with many of us is we do not, in fact, speak up. We’re too afraid. Of what I have no idea. When people are targeting you, it’s best to speak out before they shoot you, rather than wait and hope for the best.” is critical, NYCEd. Perfect.

    Esteban, I don’t know about “bury” but I understand the perspective. HuffPo has some seriously unfortunate politics.

  4. Patrick J. Sullivan

    Circulation for all of the major daily papers keeps dropping while I bet your readership, like NYC Eds and the leading teacher blogs keeps increasing. By speaking out you and other teachers have let parents, electeds and policy makers know what’s really happening. I’ve not read Friedman in years and I doubt I’ve missed much.

    Patrick

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    Jose

    Patrick, thanks for the encouragement. Point well taken, though I’m sure NYC Ed might agree that we wish both of our blogs combined had the circulation the Post or the Times have currently. Having said that, thanks for that. Much needed push to continue writing.

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