By Natasha Coleman
We live in a country where we have freedom of speech. We have the freedom to speak our opinions, freedom to disagree or agree with different views, and the freedom to try and make change. If we didn’t have activism we would live in a world where change does not exist and we don’t try to improve what we already have. Activism in the classroom is so critical. More times than not, decisions are being that affect teachers and students by people who are not in the classroom. They don’t have the up-close views of what really goes on in school on a daily basis.
That’s a problem.
Teachers must stand up for what they believe needs to happen in schools and what things need to change. Teachers can fight for their working conditions, their pay, and the workload they have each day. Teachers can also fight for their students. They can fight to have developmentally appropriate curriculum. And they can fight to help all students succeed.
Working in a public charter school and a traditional public school can be two different worlds when it comes to being an educator activist. In a traditional public school system you typically have a teachers union. The union is there to protect teachers’ rights. The union will fight for the teachers so that change can happen. When you have a union you feel like there are people with you, backing you up.
When you work in charter school it’s a little different. There is no union for teachers. Teachers have different contracts. You might feel as if you can’t have a voice. You might feel that you have to go with the flow of things even if something might need to change. Well I‘m here to tell you that if you know something isn’t right, if you know that something could be better, if you know that you could have a greater impact on students, than you should use your voice. You should be empowered to respectfully speak what you feel. Sometimes teachers are the voice of the students and sometimes even the voice of the parents. So we need teachers who aren’t afraid to fight for what they believe is right.
National School Choice Week is more than just fighting for choice. It also means fighting to have a voice.