More Than a Mission: AKA How You Know We Have a Problem in the Edu World

At least once a day (but usually many more) someone comments on my ridiculous drive to work hard, do all, and see all in regards in education. I’m the first to admit that more often than not I find myself pushing past the point of exhaustion to get one more task done, read one more edu blog, or watch one more hour of our Kentucky legislature. This week alone I came home exhausted on Tuesday from an amazing experience with Open Up Resources at ASCD to a full inbox, a backlog of tasks, a National PLC meeting one evening, and National Book Study the next. This weekend I have another PLC meeting on Saturday and a Book Study on Sunday – no rest for the weary right?

So why push myself so hard? Why sacrifice fun and family time for people I have yet to meet in person and may never get the chance to?

Because teachers and kids are worth it and they need someone to help be their voice.

When a Principal Gets in Trouble for Following Reading Research We Have a Problem

While I was at ASCD I had the chance to talk with a wonderful principal who was at a school in a district that adopted a “big box” (and also unaligned and low-quality according to EdReports) curriculum. His school serves a highly diverse population and many students that come from a low socio-economic background. Much like all of the great research Eduvaites has been putting together this principal saw the the curriculum was severely lacking in phonics instruction so they began supplementing.

You won’t believe what happens next…

The district came in and told them to stop supplementing. They were told that if it didn’t come in “the big box” they weren’t doing it. Insert shocked and angry face here!

I have to keep working hard spreading the word about aligned and high quality curricula so that principals like that can serve their students in the way they want without getting “in trouble” from their bosses.

When a Teacher is an Island We Have a Problem

Then there are the teachers that have no curriculum at all. I have met some of the most amazing teachers from around the country this year. So many of them are at very small districts where they are truly an island. There is no mandated curriculum, they can truly do whatever they want and they want to do amazing things. Do you know how hard it can be to do amazing things when there is no one to talk to or plan with?

These teachers have found a “home” in the Open Up Resources 6–8 Math PLC Community. They have been able to chat daily via social media and meet monthly via video chat with other teachers from around the country to plan, reflect, and think deeply. They aren’t alone anymore and that is priceless to me.

When Teachers Are the Vilians We Have a Problem

And I can’t forget my Kentucky teachers. They have been bullied, threatened, and thrown under the political bus for the last year here. Sadly I can’t do nearly as much to help them as I would like but I have been able to watch every minute of Education Committee meetings that have been broadcast and as much of the General Session as I can to stay informed and updated about what is going on in our state capital. Watching the corruption, lies, and backdoor dealings have affected my psyche greatly. My husband tells me frequently to just turn it off but I can’t. I have to stand up and watch for those who are teaching our kids and can’t watch for themselves.

When in 2019 We are Still Marginalizing Others We Have a Problem

As a part of watching all of our political coverage and learning from some brilliant voices like Marian Dingle I have also been doing a lot of reflecting on the marginalized people and voices in the education world. I have no doubt that there is a lot I have done wrong in my life that have contributed to this marginalization. I also know I am more privileged than I deserve and continue to do a lot of work on the language and work I do to ensure I don’t further the marginalization of others by making assumptions and or refusing to give up power.

On one of the last day’s of our legislative session I was moved to tears watching this exchange between Representative Charles Booker and Speaker of the House David Osbourne. I was a fan of Booker before as he has been a huge advocate of public education but this exchange taught me a lot more about marginalization and privilege. I challenge you all to watch it as Booker is called out of order and his microphone is eventually turned off for doing no more than speaking his truth.

I have to continue to work hard to recognize my own white privilege and do whatever I can to bring more awareness of marginalization to the edu space and Kentucky as a whole. We can and must do better.

We Can’t Stop Won’t Stop

Why do I work so hard? Why do I go days without enough sleep or taking care of myself? Because all of these people and so many more deserve better. I may just be one person but I also have the best virtual community on the planet. Together we can’t stop, won’t stop.



One thought on “More Than a Mission: AKA How You Know We Have a Problem in the Edu World

  1. Ms. Powers, my name is Ray White, I am a Senior at Washburn University in Topeka, KS majoring in education with an emphasis in middle-school math. I enjoyed your article posted March 22, 2019. As a soon to be math educator, it is so beneficial to hear from educators who have been in the field and have gained important insight. I need to be totally honest and say that contacting your thru your blog is part of an assignment for our technology in education class. That being said, I am glad I found your blog. It’s nice to know there are people like you looking out for teachers across the country.

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