We are the sum of our thoughts and actions. In trying times it’s never easy to take the high road, but it is always the right choice to maintain your moral compass, your personal code of ethics, and your values in the most difficult times. Taking the high road is not about looking good to others, it’s about coming out of a situation feeling good about how you handled yourself.
This year I found myself in a difficult situation where I was faced with the decision to take the high road or not. Despite the level of adversity, to me there was only one choice. It wasn’t easy, but I could not handle myself any other way. First and foremost I wanted to feel good about myself. I also recognized others were watching me to see how I would handle the situation, including my children and I would not miss an opportunity to model for them.
If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you know I have devoted quite a bit of space to the Secretary of Education. I do not support the policies she is advocating, and I am opposed to her lack of credibility and experience to be in the position she holds in this administration.
This leads to my thinking for today. If I were to have an opportunity to speak with DeVos, what would I say to her. I would think about it like an elevator pitch, where I’d have a very brief period of time to say what I wanted to say. My first thought might be to purge myself of the anger and frustration over her continued push to privatize public education and marginalize so many children in this country. I might talk about the awareness she lacks in having any idea what children and families go through each day just to survive, let alone succeed in school. I could talk about the ridiculous number of charter scandals every day across this country, and the research demonstrating how her agenda of vouchers and charters is a failing proposition.
But I wouldn’t do that. I would take the high road. I would want her to remember what I said – not because I was negative and nasty, but because my message to her was delivered with integrity and professionalism.
It might go something like this:
“I am a teacher educator, life-long supporter of public education, and an advocate for training pre-service teachers to teach effectively in urban environments. My research and publication agenda supports my advocacy and my teaching. You and I view public education from very different lenses. I am a product of public schools, and I have spend most of my teaching career in public institutions. I believe the very best teachers should be recruited and trained to teach in urban areas, and full funding for schools should be given to provide the tools and services schools need to be successful. I believe the investment in public education is ethically and morally the right thing to do, and will save lives, reduce or eliminate prison overcrowding, increase productivity, support economic growth, reduce crime and healthcare costs – to name a few benefits.
You have a tremendous opportunity in your position to advocate for children who have no voice. Your choice is to hear them and help them. But first you must get to know them and understand them, rather than just decide for them. Your legacy can be that you gave voice to the voiceless, and advocated on their behalf. Your legacy can be that you leveled the playing field when it came to ensuring every child-regardless of their zip code-has an equal opportunity for a ‘free and appropriate public education’.
This country has some of the most brilliant educational researchers and public education advocates. Have a conversation with them, and use their experience, research and expertise to learn more. What will your legacy be to the underrepresented children of this country?”
Taking the high road is never easy, but there’s less traffic, and the view is magnificent.
Happy New Year.
These are my reflections for today.