This blog entry is a personal account of how I felt after last Thursday night's Cobb Board of Education’s decision to withdraw the Teach for America proposal to aid South Cobb schools struggling with disadvantaged families and the ever widening achievement gap. Please excuse the first person references. What follows is an account of a personal encounter related to the issue.
Many years ago I was a young university administrator fashioning myself a pro-feminist male. I was considerate of the concept of male privilege and worked hard to shed the nonessential constructs pushed upon me by a “paternalistic” society. I used the word “partner” when introducing a buddy’s wife, would only take women to lunch on first dates, and even fantasized about taking my wife’s name when married.
One day I left my home and headed to a local feminist meeting about male aggression. Listening quietly for longer than any man has ever really listened to a woman, I decided to ask a question. The warm smiles I’d received from people who knew and trusted me suddenly turned to snarls. It was like having that dream about kissing a beautiful girl when she suddenly turns into a grotesque vicious alien. They didn’t want me to talk. It was their turn. They wanted to balance the scale, and it didn’t matter what I had to say. Hurt, I curled up inside myself with new understanding.
The board meeting Thursday brought on a similar situation. The long season of Republican primary debates influenced my regard for tact v/s issue. As we listened to of a CCAE say that Teach For America teachers should not be used to address the achievement gap in South Cobb because they are “uneducated,” I went into a Romney coma. She was unabashed in discounting this effort to help the children for fear of its effect on the morale and professional security of teachers. When I came out of my shock, I stepped to the podium and addressed the viewing audience Newt Gingrich style. Feeling that her organization’s stance and her professional lobbying would hurt the confidence of the parents who believed in the Teach For America proposal championed by Post 3 (S. Cobb) Board member David Morgan, I perked up. And when I imagined a parent at home watching, lowering her head at the scene with dismay, I went into my “I love my Momma mode” and said, “people like Ms. Jackson are paid to support teachers at any cost!” I didn’t want the parents who were pro-TFA to lose hope. After all, who would fight for them?
I used Ms. Jackson's name. It was not as I would have done it had the stakes not been so high. It certainly wasn’t anything she as a person deserved. I’ve spoken with her professionally and she’s a likable person. I hope someday she’ll call me her friend. I pray that we will work together on legislation to help remove the chains from good teachers who deserve control of their classroom and rewarding paychecks for excellent results.
“Gosh,” I was saying to myself, “I hope people have been reading my blog to see that I am not a mean spirited guy.” I am a quiet southern boy raised to defend and protect the honor of women. Problem was, as I’ve heard the opposition to the TFA proposal, the only woman I could think of was a South Cobb grandmother distressed and frustrated because she didn’t know how to help the child she’s raising alone. I thought about my how my own mother cried she as she attempted to give me to my dad so I could have a better education and life. These are the invisible lives of American children so foreign to so many educational policy makers. Tough sides get chosen for the sake of a child. In that instance, I chose the side of the children and I pray the teachers and Ms. Jackson will understand. Like the women who’d heard enough from men, I wanted to balance the scale.
Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa, after bringing the to the board, himself motioned to table/withdraw the proposal. The balance of professional lobbying outweighed parent interest and student achievement last night. Parents, I pray you won’t give up.
Who is paid to advocate for the disadvantaged children? Without exception?
Hey advocate! If you are out there, and we know you are, please come and get our children out of trouble!! Our personal level of alarm for the care of children is not becoming of southern gentleness.
The NEA, locally the CCAE will understandably side with teachers - that is there mission. So now that we know what we are up against, all the more we should demand that the board of education represent and fight for the needs of children. Join your PTA. Write your board representative and copy the others. Speak out on Patch. There are many on the side of our cause, but you are representing yourself. If not you, then who?