Arizona Education Association

Fall 2015

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4 Fall 2015 | AEA Advocate Public Education Starts with Us Let's talk about how we talk about education. Most people have some understanding of public schools from their own experience as children. If not understanding, they at least retain memories, which are often impacted by time and nostalgia. In America, the media provides a running commentary and slide show of public education, opening our professions and schools to constant public view, images, and analysis. But does this create understanding? Talking about education with people outside our professions has become more complicated because public education the endeavor is more complex than it was 20 or 30 years ago, when many voters and parents were students themselves. But for all the change in our schools and in our professions, we can still reach out to parents and community leaders in a compelling way. Our ability to reach, connect with, and move people is a constant of our character as educators. In some ways it's an easy reach. The public gets that teachers and school staff are there for students. The public is wary of the state of education nationally but much more inspired by the educators they know and see up close. And recent polling shows widespread rejection of the privatization movement's arguments attacking public education. The public is intuitively with us on many key education issues. According to a 2015 PDK/ Gallup poll, most Americans see too much emphasis on standardized tests and oppose using test scores to evaluate teacher performance. Nearly half of those responding identified increased funding as a key to improving the quality of their public schools. They believe this despite all the rhetoric out there about cutting non-classroom expenses or blaming teachers for low test scores. Therein are the opportunity and the need. We would all do well to remember that our enterprise depends on public support, on public understanding of the work we do. If we want public support, we must reach out to parents, community members, and policy makers and educate them about public education. We are educators; who, if not us, should educate those on whom we depend. As AEA President, I often find myself on panels or in the media, speaking for the rights and needs of Arizona's one million students and for thousands of teachers and school staff—to an audience that may not view education the way we do. In these moments, a glossary of education jargon falls flat. Mention billions of dollars, and eyes glaze over. I draw on you, the AEA members, to provide the real stories—the real truth. In you is the power of our message. We have more public power than our opponents in the Hit-and-Run Reform movement. No talk of billions; only we can paint the picture of teaching in a classroom with more students than desks; only we can tell the story of cleaning double the classrooms with half the custodians. We can trump the obsession with standardized tests by describing what true learning looks like in the eyes of a child. We can call out poverty in the names of too many students, who may walk mere blocks between home and school in a daily round trip journey from poverty to security. We can tell these stories. We can provide a firsthand look into classrooms, the school bus, the front office, and every corner of a school or district. We are Wordsworth's poet: people speaking to people in real terms that people share and understand. We are these stories. As educators we are the messengers and the message. The AEA Advocate is published by the Arizona Education Association, 345 East Palm Lane, Phoenix, Arizona 85004-1532. Phone: 602-264-1774 or 800-352-5411 Fax: 602-240-6887 Email: AEA's website may be found at Permission to reprint any material originating with this publication is granted provided that credit is given to the AEA Advocate. The AEA Advocate (IssN 0194-8849) is published in Fall, Winter, spring and summer for $3.50 per year by the Arizona Education Association, 345 East Palm Lane, Phoenix, AZ 85004-1532. Periodicals postage paid at Phoenix, Arizona. POsTMAsTER: send address changes to the AEA Advocate, 345 East Palm Lane, Phoenix, AZ 85004-1532. POINT Of VIEw by Andrew f. Morrill AEA oFFicErs Andrew F. Morrill President Joe Thomas Vice-President Nidia Lias Treasurer AEA sTAFF Mark simons Executive Director sheenae shannon Editor Roxanne Rash Graphic Design Advertising Andrew F. Morrill, President Arizona Education Association n

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