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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Fifth Way of Looking at Me - Declaration of Independence

In Institute, July 16, 2013

We know that each member of the human race is delightfully unique; we honor and accept those differences in all we do. Though thoroughly unequal, individual, and unique from birth, each member of the human species must have the rights to pursue industrious activities to meet his or her needs, share love in all its nurturing forms, and share the beauty of his or her humanity through expressive outlets; these rights should be limited only to ensure the preservation of the same rights for all.

To better serve the young people we work with, to establish our rights and responsibilities as practicing professional teachers, and to establish a more honest and complete identity for each individual, we declare our independence from the following:

  • Those who would institute practices that interfere with the beliefs stated above
  • All people who accept that any human person, a human's experiences, or human potential can be reduced to actionable numbers (see “Yet Another Standardization Movement”)
  • Those who harmfully damage the development of a young person by neglect or neglectful coddling (see “But You Don't Know His Home Life”)
  • Those who separate themselves from reality so they can maintain an overly simplistic view of the problems we face which allows the myth of simple, miraculous solutions to flourish (see “Let's Just Focus On The Positive”)
  • Those who choose to perpetuate this same myth of easily identified and easily solved problems to the public (see “2013 School Board Report: Yet Another Wonderful Year”)
  • Anyone unwilling to have a respectful, open discussion that allows for clarity in the identification of real problems (see “What We Need Is Professional Development That Blames The Teachers”)
  • Anyone unwilling to share those problems publicly with the appropriate groups to garner empathy, support, and real solutions (see “We Can't Admit We Have Problems and Other Problems For Scared Educators”)
  • Those who view the teaching profession as a drain on society, which is in direct conflict with the role education plays in maintaining the shared values of our representative republic (see “My School Experience Was A Waste Of Time Except...”)
  • Anyone who views teachers as “those who can't” (see “Any Media Outlet In The Last Ten Years”)
  • Any person whose first priority is to sell a system, book, program, or “guaranteed” fix to complex problems (see “Most Professional Development Most Teachers Have Ever Experienced”)

Our pleas for understanding and requests for dialogue have been met with stony stares and cold hearts (see “MSD School Board Meeting July 2011). If it is impossible for you to include us in the process of developing policy and evaluating practice, we will ignore you out of necessity (see “CCSS Implementation” and “Teacher Effectiveness Models”). If you make further mandates that make our jobs impossible, you will lose our services (see “Teacher Retention Rates” and “Decline in Enrollment in Education Majors”). A far more dire consequence is the impact this will have on students, on our future.

Neither have we been neglectful of our duties to our students. We have continued our work through all of the hardships (see “Act 10”) and neglectful leadership (see “I have Outlasted Many Administrators”). Can we not work together to achieve the common goal of ensuring the education and futures of our nation's children? Can we not find common ground and mutual benefit built on compromise? If we cannot accomplish this, what do we expect our students are learning about collaboration?

We, the 2013 cohort of the Greater Madison Writing Project, seek peaceful resolution of our grievances; absent that, we seek separation from your tyranny.

When peaceful talks and collaborative efforts can continue, you know where to find us; we are the teachers at the center.
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