The Dismantling of Public Education - Why We Need to Pay Attention.

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Within the rising tide of hate, some very loud voices are seeking to create confusion, fear, and worry amongst families. In so doing, they’ve hidden their hate in well captioned phrases like, “both sides”, “freedom of speech”, “parents’ rights”, and invoking competing human rights, among other claims. 

The language of “back to basics” has further complicated this. The suggestion that somewhere in the yester-years of public education there was a better time that worked for all children. The truth is – that never, ever, existed. This language is reminiscent of that used in the “Make America Great Again” campaigns. 

This is not simply an attack against some type of “woke agenda”. It is actually a very well orchestrated and yet somewhat disguised attack on public education with the goal of destabilizing public education to such a degree that private education and charter schools (like in the US), will become the inevitable solution. 

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In the midst of attacks often buoyed by biased media with clickbait headlines, there are some things we need to consider if we are to find a way through this and strengthen public education in the process.

In a highly politicized environment, it is always important we approach from a place of empathy and care. A willingness to listen and recognize the rights of those we serve. It is also important that we articulate and remember, the other side of “rights” is “responsibilities” (that accompany those rights). It is also important that we match accountability with kindness and vice versa. There are some communities and people who have concerns and it is important that we listen and help explain how a democratic public, secular education system protects the rights of all students.

At the same time, there are those who aim to present hate as an opinion and counternarrative to human rights.

The Dismantling of Public Education - Why We Need to Pay Attention.

2

In the midst of attacks often buoyed by biased media with clickbait headlines, there are some things we need to consider if we are to find a way through this and strengthen public education in the process.

In a highly politicized environment, it is always important we approach from a place of empathy and care. A willingness to listen and recognize the rights of those we serve. It is also important that we articulate and remember, the other side of “rights” is “responsibilities” (that accompany those rights). It is also important that we match accountability with kindness and vice versa. There are some communities and people who have concerns and it is important that we listen and help explain how a democratic public, secular education system protects the rights of all students.

At the same time, there are those who aim to present hate as an opinion and counternarrative to human rights.

1

Within the rising tide of hate, some very loud voices are seeking to create confusion, fear, and worry amongst families. In so doing, they’ve hidden their hate in well captioned phrases like, “both sides”, “freedom of speech”, “parents’ rights”, and invoking competing human rights, among other claims. 

The language of “back to basics” has further complicated this. The suggestion that somewhere in the yester-years of public education there was a better time that worked for all children. The truth is – that never, ever, existed. This language is reminiscent of that used in the “Make America Great Again” campaigns. 

This is not simply an attack against some type of “woke agenda”. It is actually a very well orchestrated and yet somewhat disguised attack on public education with the goal of destabilizing public education to such a degree that private education and charter schools (like in the US), will become the inevitable solution. 

~HATE is NOT the other side of an argument

3

Never in my education career have I had to be more emphatic that there is no other “side” to human rights or continually repeat the phrase,Hate is not a “side” of an argument” than since I’ve been in the role of Director of Education.

As politicians and some adults invested in colonial structures fight their battles, the “collateral damage” continues to be the students whom the education sector has never served well. They continue to witness and be impacted by the political football, “hate vs human rights”. The irony is that the way the rules work, politicians are often allowed to say much that borders or courts hate without any type of accountability. This then leaves the battles to staff on the frontlines to keep working to create inclusive environments that build a sense of belonging for all. At all levels of the system, this battle is not an equal one especially for Indigenous, Black and racialized leaders. 

We have seen too many examples of what Black and Brown leaders; especially Black women face when they speak up. So, the widely held goal of creating “apparent” changes in hiring, can often end up being experienced both by communities and individuals, like tokenizing the bodies of IBRm leaders.

4

This is because they are, on one hand, being celebrated in positions of responsibility while at the same time, facing often insurmountable challenges with tangibly little, or no additional support given to them.

Keep in mind that these leaders are often held to standards higher than their peers and have had to work twice as hard to get half as far. Furthermore, any mistakes they make are hyper-scrutinized in comparison to their peers. A gander back to Obama’s tan suit reminds us that sometimes that bar exists even when they’ve not even done anything wrong.

We need to reflect on what the reality of change in public education needs to look like, what supports are needed and what it means to support IBRm leaders so they can help us make the changes that we want. It is not enough to simply hire people into roles, the education system from the Government to districts must consider the supports needed for them as well as all leaders who want to engage change in a highly politicized environment where the voices of hate and racism have become very loud. Anything less, is merely a display of change that will not actually lend itself to the change we claim we want.

Check out the DreamEd Podcast series – let’s dream of a better education system.

1

Within the rising tide of hate, some very loud voices are seeking to create confusion, fear, and worry amongst families. In so doing, they’ve hidden their hate in well captioned phrases like, “both sides”, “freedom of speech”, “parents’ rights”, and invoking competing human rights, among other claims. 

The language of “back to basics” has further complicated this. The suggestion that somewhere in the yester-years of public education there was a better time that worked for all children. The truth is – that never, ever, existed. This language is reminiscent of that used in the “Make America Great Again” campaigns. 

This is not simply an attack against some type of “woke agenda”. It is actually a very well orchestrated and yet somewhat disguised attack on public education with the goal of destabilizing public education to such a degree that private education and charter schools (like in the US), will become the inevitable solution. 

~Hate is NOT the other side of an argument

2

In the midst of attacks often buoyed by biased media with clickbait headlines, there are some things we need to consider if we are to find a way through this and strengthen public education in the process.

In a highly politicized environment, it is always important we approach from a place of empathy and care. A willingness to listen and recognize the rights of those we serve. It is also important that we articulate and remember, the other side of “rights” is “responsibilities” (that accompany those rights). It is also important that we match accountability with kindness and vice versa. There are some communities and people who have concerns and it is important that we listen and help explain how a democratic public, secular education system protects the rights of all students.

At the same time, there are those who aim to present hate as an opinion and counternarrative to human rights.

 

Never in my education career have I had to be more emphatic that there is no other “side” to human rights or continually repeat the phrase, “Hate is not a “side” of an argument” than since I’ve been in the role of Director of Education. 

As politicians and some adults invested in colonial structures fight their battles, the “collateral damage” continues to be the students whom the education sector has never served well. They continue to witness and be impacted by the political football, “hate vs human rights”. The irony is that the way the rules work, politicians are often allowed to say much that borders or courts hate without any type of accountability. This then leaves the battles to staff on the frontlines to keep working to create inclusive environments that build a sense of belonging for all. At all levels of the system, this battle is not an equal one especially for Indigenous, Black and racialized leaders. 

We have seen too many examples of what Black and Brown leaders; especially Black women face when they speak up. So, the widely held goal of creating “apparent” changes in hiring, can often end up being experienced both by communities and individuals, like tokenizing the bodies of IBRm leaders. This is because they are, on one hand, being celebrated in positions of responsibility while at the same time, facing often insurmountable challenges with tangibly little, or no additional support given to them.

Keep in mind that these leaders are often held to standards higher than their peers and have had to work twice as hard to get half as far. Furthermore, any mistakes they make are hyper-scrutinized in comparison to their peers. A gander back to Obama’s tan suit reminds us that sometimes that bar exists even when they’ve not even done anything wrong. In some instances, even when results are changing, it doesn’t seem to be enough. 

We need to reflect on what the reality of change in public education needs to look like, what supports are needed and what it means to support IBRm leaders so they can help us make the changes that we want. It is not enough to simply hire people into roles, the education system from the government to districts must consider the supports needed for them as well as all leaders who want to engage change in a highly politicized environment where the voices of hate and racism have become very loud. Anything less, is merely a display of change that will not actually lend itself to the change we claim we want.

Check out the DreamEd Podcast series – let’s dream of a better education system.

~Hate is NOT the other side of an argument