A picture I took of the Teachers Exposed ad in Times Square, NYC

We’re All We Have

Jose 10 Comments

What have I learned from being an “edublogger”:

1. Make sure you have a good schedule for everything.

2. Have a good stable of blogs to read about any and everything so you keep abreast of the latest and greatest.

3. Differentiate between the personal and the professional.

As far as what I believe, we need to have a stronger union on-line as well as off-line. People might find the idea ludicrous because of the impending pressure from higher officials to disband or dilute unions, but I’m being real. We fill our text boxes and comments with facts and praises (usually about ourselves, and how great we are in the classroom) along with derisions and insults (usually at everyone but ourselves), but when will we put our money where our mouth is? We can’t simply depend on massive rallies at our city halls to make our point. We need to strengthen the connections we already have.

Unlike any other niche in the blogosphere, edubloggers really only link themselves. I can’t speak much to that because I write about a diverse set of topics plus have carry-over from other blogging platforms, thus I’m a bit of an aberration. Nonetheless, the majority of us only have each other to turn to when we’re looking for inspiration, empathy, or that, yes, it’s going to be alright. We’ll range from very conservative to anarchist, but all in all, we seem to be the only ones that read each other’s materials, and that’s important to recognize since that sort of networking doesn’t usually take place outside of the Internets.

Edubloggers don’t have a national conference. None of us really get recognized on a national platform except within our own niche the way our political or gossip blogger counterparts do. Very few of us actually get deals to write books, even if we have a triple digit or in some instances quadruple digit following. So maybe our focus shouldn’t be on besting the next edublogger but on seeing where we can find the connections that make our web stronger.

I mean, look at the latest attack on teachers:

A picture I took of the Teachers Exposed ad in Times Square, NYC

So the Center for Union Facts decides to post this right in the heart of the city with the most powerful teachers’ union, and we would be none the wiser. No e-mail blast discussing how detrimental and nonfactual this ad is, and no wondering what ugliness could come next. What is our union going to prepare to handle this crap? As far as the tenure question is concerned, that question is answered. As far as us having special privileges over other professions, great, then why do so many of us leave? That question’s been answered, too.

But of course, it’s easy to try and pit teachers against the world. In a time when teachers get treated like heroes but paid like villians, told to act like professionals but talked down to like children, and overwhelmed with the many roles we take on but humiliated in the national media depending on how close contract negotiations are, we need to find a way to come together, really. I completely agree that we need to make certain tenets of our job more stringent, especially tenure, because a couple of bad apples here and they get away with doing nothing (which believe me, we want them out as badly as you do, because they’re ruining our swag). But to remove it completely would deplete an already exhausted teaching corp, most of whom in my experience are some of the hardest-working, honest, and eager people to walk this Earth.

If we see these efforts to turn everyone against teachers when so many of us agree that we wish we could see some of these benefits for the rest of the populace, then we need to be more effective in communicating those desires. We can worry less about who was included in a blogroll, who is the most technologically advanced, whose blog is the hottest, and maybe more on whether we’ll actually find a collective of folks that will help bring these inconsistencies to light.

jose, who is still taking questions. Shoot them over, please.

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 VilsonWe’re All We Have

Comments 10

  1. talda

    here’s a question: we all had those teachers growing up who we still think about their impact [mine would be my second grade teacher, miss chris...LOVED HER!], did some of your former teachers have an impact in how you approach your classes? i know you developed your own overall style, but are there things you have borrowed from other great teachers along the way?

    ryc: i fixed it!

  2. NYC Educator

    Teachers are attractive targets for a number of reasons. First of all, we’re widely perceived as voting Democratic, so what’s it to a Republican to get out there and trash us?

    Mostly, though, we’re one of the last bastions of vibrant unionism in this US of A, and wiping us out would really be a great step toward the Walmartization of America.

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  4. NYC Educator

    Well, we can certainly start by keeping John McCain in Arizona. There needs to be a resurgence in union around the country, not just by teachers, to preserve the middle class. I’m not convinced either of the Democrats is going to make that a priority, but I don’t think they’d fight it either.

    Personally, I won’t have a lot of hope for this country if neocons continue to run it into the ground.

  5. avoiceinthewilderness

    I personally would like to see some reality leak out. It’s sad that even our union seems afraid to talk truth to the world. They, like so many school officials, seem afraid to go against public opinion. Maybe the publicity against teachers is too overwhelming to conquer.
    There is so much anti-teacher resentment-especially in communities whose members would benefit the most from education. It’s like they are fighting themselves.
    People don’t see how they are being manipulated. Social systems are set up to pit those who are serving against those whom they serve.
    Maybe we should all get together and hire our own PR firm.

  6. Pingback: Daily link post 04/02/2008 | When the hurly-burly's done

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    Jose

    NYCEd: OK, true enough. What else can we do on our end?

    AVoice: Too true. Maybe we need to write up our own articles, because apparently, the message isn’t fully out yet. Our own PR firm? Wow, that’d be great. I wonder how we can make that happen.

  8. Frumteacher

    Great post. Obviously you are right. I wonder though whether anyone will pay attention to a bunch of edubloggers, if even in the ‘real’ world, teachers aren’t being listened to. But then again, maybe that’s the power of a virtual union?

  9. NYC Educator

    Keep speaking truth to power. It’s a tough situation for us, as our union has basically allowed Bloomberg to eviscerate the contract, and failed to demand even cost of living in return.

    But things have changed a lot. If you follow education reporting, as I have for years, you notice that reporters, with some notable exceptions, no longer go to the administration and print whatever they say without consulting teachers. I think that we are already making some positive difference by making ourselves heard, and I think we need to continue.

    We also now have a very prominent voice in Diane Ravitch, regularly exposing the nonsense that this administration presents as achievements.

    As for solving all the world’s problems, that’s a tougher task. But job one right now is to keep McCain out. I worry that they’ll be able to sell the public this nonsense about Obama’s preacher and avoid discussing what eight years of GW and his buds have done to this country. The GOP always wins on idiotic wedge issues and never does anything to help working people, who right now sorely need a boost.

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    Jose

    You’re right, and really, we just need to keep plugging away, I guess. I don’t want to wait for the next administration to screw us over.

    I’m glad things finally have changed a little as far as the news, but that comes mainly from us, who voice our concerns so often, and have people in the media getting the message out. Unfortunately, there was a time when there were too many talking heads who made it their business to hate teachers for some reason (our emperor being one of them).

    Diane Ravitch seems cool by all accounts, but we need more of them. And she won’t solve the world’s problems, but the few of us that keep working can help put a wedge where the Republicans can’t.

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