“What role do teachers play in the political process legislating change in education?” I was posed with this question last week and it really stimulated my thinking regarding why we, as educators, often times aren’t. To put it plainly, and rather bluntly, most educators I speak with seem plenty content to sit in the lounge, drink their coffee, and complain about legislation, but wouldn’t so much as think about speaking out or involving themselves in the legislative process. THIS IS NOT WRONG, and I’m not accusing these teachers in any way, shape, or form…some of the best teachers I know are so effective because they keep their nose out of the politics of education. Yet, in my opinion, we’re foolish to not have professional educators directing and guiding the creation of legislation and the political process on issues directly applied to education.
The medical field, the economic sector, and the government itself are all great examples of venues in which those with the highest degrees and the greatest experience guide the process of rule-making and political framework for their system. What I have very little tolerance for is the “casual bystander” who is not only not involved or voiced in the matter, but frankly couldn’t care less. As a good friend, and colleague of mine, often says “Indifference is not an option in my classroom.” To cut to the chase, I want to be clear: I’m not asking educators to drop their chalk and rush to Washington…we don’t need that. I am asking educators to have an opinion. Be well-read and well-voiced on current topics and the politics of education, voice these opinions to representatives, and if the issue is something that strikes a particularly strong passion in you, get involved! There is no shame in being a great teacher and focusing on that instead of politics, in fact on most days it’s probably better, but to not care or to be passionate about something and sit idly, coffee in hand, won’t cut it. Be an active participant in the world of education and advocate positive changes that benefit children in addition to teachers.