Wednesday, June 21, 2017

How Can We Stand By? Josh Hickey, NY Teacher Badass Teachers Association

Badass Teachers Association:

How Can We Stand By?  

By:  Josh Hickey, NY Teacher  



The day after the announcement that I won my first unopposed election for building representative almost ten years ago, a colleague approached me in the main office just outside of the mail room and said they saw the election results and were happy with the outcome, and how they voted for me.  A lot of different things to say raced through my head but in the end, all I said was “Thanks.”  I felt weird about the election being uncontested, and on top of that, I have a tendency to be terrible at small talk.  On the other hand, if I’m asked a direct question, particularly about something about which I have a strong opinion, I can talk at length.  Since I seem to have plenty of strong opinions, I can be a real hit at parties if you don’t mind skipping past the part where I’m awkwardly fumbling for something to say.

A situation similar to the scenario I described above happened over Memorial Day weekend; and I’ll skip past all the awkward parts, and paraphrase the real substance of the conversation I had.  We were talking about an article that had been shared over Twitter, and someone asked me if the increasing percentage of students in “low-income households” in public schools in the United States today was due to the expansion of voucher programs, knowing as we do that the majority of the students taking advantage of these programs are suburban children, or if these alarming conditions were the result of a greater percentage of the population experiencing poverty overall. I felt that the conversation that followed was an important one because the path it took intersects so intimately with many different aspects of our modern and professional lives as teachers; including socio-economic status and its impact on student achievement, attacks on education and education policy in general, state tax codes and their impact on schools and society in general, the role of unions in terms of class, and also the parallel decline of unions and the middle class in the United States.

Yes, it is true that since 2013, the majority (51%) of students attending public schools in this country experience the condition we call poverty.  Just in case you think that our state is an exception to this trend, New York stood at 48% in the study conducted by the Southern 
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