When I was in my first round of grad school studying how to teach students whose first language is not English, my advisor challenged my thinking about the role of teacher in public life.
She taught that being a teacher is a political act.
Think about this a moment: those of us who have chosen teaching as our professions have chosen to dedicate our lives in a political act.
I know, right?
When I first began to grapple with my understanding of this reality it frightened me. I had done a very good job of keeping a veil between myself and my students, thank you very much. I did not need them to know that I felt strongly about the power of education to fight poverty- I would just go out and do it.
Boy- she was completely right. Today, as I see it, the act of teaching, and teaching in a public school, is the greatest testament to the belief in democracy that I know.
I walk into my classroom each day because I believe that every child has a right to a world-class education. I believe my lowest performing students have a shot to reach their fullest potential. I believe that my students who don’t speak English as a first language have every bit the same right to education as the students sitting next to them whose families have been here since the beginning of our country’s inception.
I have taught in countries where this was not the belief. Countries where education is only thought to be valuable to a certain class or a certain gender of people. It is the notion n that we educate EVERYONE that creates the democratic voice and keeps our republic alive.
Please, friends, let’s not forget that.