I am sure it’s the counselor in me, but throughout Mr. Earley’s press conference yesterday I felt his accusatory finger, wagging, in disapproval. I heard judgement, annoyance and condemnation. I heard that he believes these teacher protests are impeding DPS student’s learning process and causing many of them to miss the only meal they will receive all day. I heard Mr. Earley use phrases like these strikers are in the minority and their actions serve no purpose. I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated as the press conference went on begging my WDIV news app, as if the Emergency Manager could hear me, to please, please convey some understanding of the pain that these teachers are in.
The DPS Emergency Manager’s address lacked compassion. Absent were phrases like I’ve visited your campuses, I’ve gotten a small dose of the struggles you’re having, I hear that you’re frustrated, WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER, LET ME HEAR YOUR STRUGGLES. Again, here’s the counselor in me. I understand his frustrations. He’s also in a tough position. This doesn’t negate what these teachers are trying to express in probably the only way to get the cities attention.
I refuse to agree or disagree with these teacher sickouts. I am not a DPS teacher, and I am not in their classroom seeing what they see day after day. I am however, privileged to work with students in districts similar to DPS. I see the struggles of teachers with 37 kids to a classroom. I see the hard work teach teacher puts in struggling to gather “extra” resources through places like Donor’s Choice. I see them struggle with kiddo’s who come to class in dirty close day after day to school buildings without heat. All of this while reading in the Free Press that DPS may be broke by April or DPS in desperate need of resources. I can imagine working under these conditions because I do, I have. Working under these conditions for years? For most of my career? These are things I can’t fathom.
To make the decision to become a teacher, and to step foot in a classroom full of children day after day takes great strength and courage…and costs so much of each teacher personally. All along we should be singing teachers love songs, checking on them, fighting for them. At the least we should be listening to them. Everyone knows public education in general is in crisis. Everyone knows DPS is in crisis. Everyone knows tensions are high. Ya know, I tell my students all the time…usually it’s not WHAT you say, it’s how you say it. When you speak to others, what is your goal? Mr. Earley…if your goal was to alienate and scold further this minority of your educators that apparently have the power to shut down an entire school campus, mission accomplished. I really do believe your goal was to share your frustration and to convey that these sickouts don’t have to be the way to get a point across. But the words you choose need to be revisited. Teachers need a platform and to know that we support them.