Why I Will March (Stand For Something)

Jose VilsonEducation, Featured

On March 4th, 2017 from 9:30 to 12:30, I’m marching with the Alliance for Quality Education and their broad coalition. There’s a billion reasons for me to march. Let me make a tiny list, though:

  • My son
  • My communities (Lower East Side / Harlem / Washington Heights / Inwood)
  • My students and their families
  • Because, for all the talk about Chicago, Detroit, LA, Philly, and other spaces where leaders are coming for public education, there’s little talk anymore about NYC
  • Because Governor Andrew Cuomo needs to know that he can no longer ignore the spaces where black and brown children
    • Also, because he can’t address it simply by telling Eva Moskowitz to take only the students she likes and discard the rest at the pleasure of hedge fund managers who want to see test scores
  • Because the rest of the country has to know that it’s not all good here
  • Because we shouldn’t negotiate our children’s futures from the point of compromise, but from the point of the ideal
  • Because there is such a thing as a “free” lunch for students, because we the people believe our kids should eat (DeVos sub 1)
  • Because this teacher isn’t in “receiver mode” and has never been (DeVos sub 2)

What’s more, I would love for you all to join the coalition in resisting the ways that education have cemented inequity in this country. To my knowledge, these education protests, like so many I’ve attended before, don’t have the largesse of other so-called grassroots undertakings. We can’t turn off our lights for day or two and rally in front of Albany on a weekday. We can’t bully parents into marching and threaten them with expulsion for not attending. We can’t tug at Cuomo’s pocket to attend the rallies and endorse our vision in commercials across the state. We won’t have Trump affiliates tour our halls without a reminder of how Trump sees public schooling as a monopoly worth breaking up.

We all we got.

To that end, we have to push back. Against Trump. Against DeVos. Against anyone who wishes to dismantle public education for our most vulnerable students. The argument about charters against public schools seems fraught with complications. The easy thing to say is that “not all charters.” The hard point to recognize is that public schools are a lifeline for what so many in America believe is democracy. If we aspire to the ideal of a democracy, then public education for all students matters. Akin to the arguments for universal health care, we must retain and bolster an education system that sits above the banter of the pseudo-free market.

We march with the hope that we’ll move forward from schools left behind by frigid policy and bolster these spaces with critically compassionate citizens. That’s why I’ll march. I hope to see you all there, too.

My shoes always welcome a good show of resistance. Plus, if you stand for nothing, then what will you fall for?