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I decided to take a trip out west to visit the national parks. I planned to start the tour of the parks in Las Vegas, so contacted the teacher-activist Angie Sullivan to meet. Angie is a dynamo who keeps close watch on the governor, the legislature, and the Clark County school board, doing her best to advocate for the needs of the children she teaches, most of whom are poor. If every district and state had an Angie Sullivan, we could win more battles. We were supposed to meet on Monday, the 26, the day I arrived. But I was laid low by a sudden onset of very bad flu, so we postponed our meeting to my last day, Wednesday September 28. Angie was late, my friends went to dinner without me, but I was determined to meet this force of nature, face to face. She sent text messages every few minutes, and arrived when I had to go. We had time for a hug, a photo, and my advice to her: Never stop making trouble on behalf of the kids. All too fast.
Angie the wrote this post to her vast email list of legislators, school board members, journalists, and education officials:
I briefly met with Diane Ravitch tonight.
Yes she is my hero.
And yes, in spite of all my plans – I was two hours late. And yes, she waited anyhow. So I owe her friends who she was delaying eating dinner with some special love or toys or something.
And I cannot apologize enough.
Says a lot about her . . . and a lot about me!
So . . .
I wanted to tell everyone the story about the socks.
I put together a – Diane-Ravitch-is-my-hero – gift bag with books from Nevada because “Home Means Nevada.”
And I threw in the socks.
The Sock Story
The millionaires and billionaires threw an event at the Smith Center this last year to celebrate teachers.
It was supposed to be similar to the Kennedy Center which does something similar.
The first step to being honored was to be nominated by someone. And the second step was to have the nominee submit a self description of how wonderful they themselves truly were and to toot their own horn. Really weird.
In the business community, it is most likely an asset to give lists of personal accomplishments and announce your personal curriculum vitae. Teachers just don’t. Real educators aren’t in this for the money, title, or laud. Foreign.
But . . .
We wanted to dress up and hear good music. So we sat around the computers at my school and wrote for each other as if we were speaking about ourselves.
We got an invitation to attend. Yay!
It was fancy. We dressed up.
We knew it was rigged by reformers and none of the real educators would be on the stage but it was night out. None of us would be chosen for the cash reward but it did not stop us.
Friends were great.
Music was awesome.
And they gave a lot of awards to reformers and TFA.
We clapped because no one likes a bad sport.
And we got a swag bag.
Some swag was awesome. Tickets to shows on the strip were once in a lifetime.
Some swag was interesting.
Included in the swag bag – was an unusually large pair of men’s socks.
I know I should be grateful and just say thank you. The gift was free. I had a good time with co-workers. I have pictures.
But part of me is tired.
The millionaire and billionaire party throwers gave 500 teachers who are primarily women who teach kids to read – a large pair of men’s socks.
Next to the socks, we also got a coupon for a percentage off a $1000 suit and a percentage off a $1000 watch.
Frankly, we laughed. I have not spent $1000 on clothes in the last ten years. If it isn’t on the $10 sale rack or at the Goodwill – I can live without it.
Mixed swag – tickets and socks.
So ends my tale of the socks.
Moral of the Story: My education career is full of people “giving me a large pair of men’s socks.”
Everyone has an “idea” about what will improve education.
No one studies the research.
Part of me says: just be grateful.
Part of me says: my kids deserve better.
I need a box of paper and books – not a pair of socks or a $1000 suit. I also need to be a professional and authentically teach kids. I would really love some research based best practice to be at the core of legislated decisions – rather than ideas from lobbyists and reformers who line their pockets by implementation “great ideas” and experimenting on brown children.
That ends up wasting a lot of money and not really helping kids.
I gave those socks to Diane Ravitch. She knows teachers do not need a large pair of men socks.
We have been polite for too long while enduring some strange misconceptions and misunderstandings about public education.
We need to speak up and tell people what we really need to make gains with students.
Teachers need to speak up. And that is what Diane told me – I’m passing that on.
Follow her blog.
And buy her books.
Nevada is in them.