Michelle Obama and Why Teachers Need To Embrace Critique
Every time someone says something, anything, about teachers, without fail, a naysayer always nags how it’s a conspiracy against teachers as a whole. For instance, a recent commercial about the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum started with a father asking his boy, “You like your teachers this year?” to which the boy replied, “Sure.” Some took that as a coordinated effort by Major League Baseball, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and all their plutocrat friends to diminish the teaching profession.
Really? Isn’t this rather typical banter between parents and their middle school children?
It gets worse when issues of race and class get involved. Take, for instance, this bit by First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, in a commencement address at Dillard University:
So my mother volunteered at my school — helping out every day in the front office, making sure our teachers were doing their jobs, holding their feet to the fire if she thought they were falling short. I’d walk by the office and there she’d be. (Laughter.) I’d leave class to go to the bathroom, there she’d be again, roaming the halls, looking in the classrooms. And of course, as a kid, I have to say, that was a bit mortifying, having your mother at school all the time.But looking back, I have no doubt that my classmates and I got a better education because she was looking over those teachers’ shoulders. (Applause.) You see, my mom was not a teacher or a principal or a school board member. But when it came to education, she had that hunger. So she believed that our education was very much her business.
Some folks were outraged by the comments, as if she meant that she would want hundreds of parents swarming the schools, checking to see if their kids were learning something instead of trusting the experts, experts now being the teachers. Actually, the speech reveals something deeper than that, an issue that I not only highlight in my book (see: “Negotiating My Own Skin” and “What Happened”), but that Mia McKenzie deftly does in today’s piece “The White Teachers I Wish I Never Had.” She writes:
- See more at: http://thejosevilson.com/michelle-obama-teachers-need-embrace-critique/#sthash.JhJf8KfH.dpufThe thing is, Ms. McMahon should have known better. She didn’t because white teachers then, and most now, aren’t required to have any analysis of systems of white supremacy or anti-Blackness, and their own complicity in both, before they enter classrooms to teach