Happy MLK Day, everyone! We stop today to honor a great man who had such high hopes for us all. I always like to share with my students the wishes of Dr. King's family to make this commemorative day a "day on", not a "day off". An amazing group of teacher-bloggers is joining me to make today a day on that will make a difference for the students and the teachers of the Detroit Public Schools. Each of us will choose a favorite quote from Dr. King and interpret it in a way that addresses the current crisis facing the schools in the city of Detroit.
My favorite quote from the legacy of Dr. King is above: "We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now." My take on this quote is that no matter where each of us is in our own life/work/school situation, the struggle taking place in the Detroit Public Schools must be considered our own struggle.
The troubles of the Detroit Schools began a long time ago, but is finally coming into public view because the status has gone from bad to so much worse and a major change is much needed. I live and have worked for most of my teaching career in a suburb of Detroit, so I have had kind of a second row seat to the events as they have developed. Appointing an emergency manager clearly has not been beneficial to the mostly impoverished population and their dedicated, loving, and tireless teachers. There are many photos and some videos online now to show you the horrific conditions in which the staff and students operate each day.
We may have our share of issues with unfair and unrealistic teacher evaluations, over-testing of children way past the point of usefulness, less than posh work environments, and all the other things that keep education in our country from being an optimum educational experience, but what most of us experience as teachers pales in comparison to what Detroit teachers are faced with every day. And the children? To leave a poverty-stricken home, arriving at your "safe place", your "secure place" (school) to be greeted with a piece of moldy bread for breakfast in a freezing cold or grossly overheated room with rodents and more mold on the walls.... That belongs to all of us. And it will belong to all of us, I believe, until it is fixed.
How can teachers be expected to teach, and children expected to make progress on tests when their lives every day are of quiet desperation? I read in one article of kindergartners who just expect to wear their coats until noon when the room gets a little warmer. I know I couldn't participate in kindergarten activities while bundled in a coat for most of the day. We own this.
We all come with different life experiences shaping who we are. Our boats to get here are different. The boats we travel through each day in are different. But when it comes to wanting the best for kids, all kids, we are all in the same boat. Teachers, parents, anyone who cares about kids.
Please let the teachers of Detroit know that you stand with them and will continue to stand with them. Look for and use the hashtags: #supportDPSteachers and #dpsteachersfight back. Search for photos, articles, and videos of Detroit Public Schools online. I promise you'll be shocked at what you learn. Sign the petition .
Write letters, send letters to the editor of your local paper, or whatever you can to add your voice. The sea is so wide and their boat is so small. (paraphrased from Marion Wright Edelman, of The Children's Defense Fund) It's your boat too.
For more quotes and blog posts bringing HOPE to the DETROIT PUBLIC SCHOOLS, please see the thumbnails below.