"Are you watching the convention in Denver?"
Spoken by a teaching colleague, one with whom I'm so alike that I'm not sure we weren't twins in a previous life, this statement started my afternoon on the first day back to school.
Political talk is an under the table kind of thing in schools. We shouldn't use email for anything election-related, actively campaign, visibly support candidates while on school property, or even discuss politics if we might be overheard by parents or community members.
You know how I feel about the word "should." Should, of course, is a bogus concept.
The reality: we quietly discuss politics among ourselves. We teachers often become politically active outside the classroom, put up signs at home and bumper stickers on our cars. We attend meetings, make donations, interview candidates in the name of our professional association, and we write letters. We write blogs!!
So when I saw our congressional representative outside the building shaking hands as more than 1,500 teachers and other school staff walked into our opening day meeting, I smiled. No, I more than smiled. I walked up to him, shook his hand, and thanked him for running for re-election. I wished him good luck in November because we need him in office.
In another hushed hallway conversation, a union rep and I talked about the need to have pro-education people in office at the local, the state, and the federal level. Like it or not, teaching is political. Decisions in Madison, decisions in Washington, and decisions made at City Hall affect the what we teach and how we teach it.
I could go on for a long, long time with a list of examples, but I have desk tags to make and a charter school board meeting tonight. So in closing, here's a Should to summarize.
Teachers should be able to teach without politics.
Reality: Education is political. It is often driven by public perception. Government decisions affect everything we teach.
End result: Teachers need to be politically active. In order to be effective advocates for children, teachers need to vote for pro-education candidates. And in order to elect pro-education candidates, well, teachers need to step out of their classrooms and .... well, you know the rest. Stumble It!