Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

This year I'm thankful for my family as always, and also for our little dog Julio. I've successfully lobbied for him to come to our Thanksgiving with us, and to get his share of turkey. I'm absolutely sure he will like it more than I do.

I'm thankful for a job I love, for waking up each and every morning excited for a new day. I'm thankful for the opportunity to help and support children. I'm thankful to be part of a profession that really puts children first, as opposed to paying lip service.  I'm thankful to live in a country where I can freely answer the demagogues who pretend to do otherwise.

I'm thankful for public schools that serve all children and thankful to work in one that is supportive of all kids no matter where they come from. I'm thankful for the dedication of my colleagues, and also for administrators that aren't crazy. They help make our work possible. I'm thankful to the amazing kids I teach who come from every corner of this earth, the kids who surprise me and make me laugh every day with their unexpected thoughts and quirkiness.

I'm thankful for the activists in MORE and New Action who stand for public education, who stand for what's right and reject blind faith in a machine that's failed us spectacularly of late. I'm thankful for people who do what's right even if it means personal sacrifice. I'm thankful for the reasonable members of Unity Caucus who take the time to see the whole picture.

I'm thankful to my brothers and sisters at Francis Lewis High School who do me the honor of allowing me to represent them. I'm thankful to Patrick Sullivan for talking me into standing for chapter leader though it seemed like an insane amount of work for little reward. I'm thankful for learning, rather late in life, that I thrive on such an insane job. (I should have known that from years of teaching, I suppose.) I'm thankful to everyone who's supported me in that job, both in and out of UFT.

I'm very grateful to city high school teachers, who elected us to represent them at the UFT Executive Board, cracking the window a little in the monolithic loyalty-oath bound leadership. I think I speak for all seven of us when I say what a great honor it is you have chosen us to speak for you. I am continually impressed by my fellow high school Executive Board members, some of whom I've known for a very short time. We have only just begun.

I'm thankful for NYSUT members like Beth Dimino and Brian St. Pierre, who showed me a very different vision of union than any I'd ever seen in UFT. I'm thankful to them and my friends in MORE who gave me the opportunity to run in a statewide election and see that there were a whole lot of teachers whose activism was celebrated rather than penalized by union presidents. I'm thankful to Norm Scott for dragging me to an AFT convention where I watched each and every UFT rep being told how to vote by some guy at a lectern rather than rank and file. 

I'm thankful for each and every person who takes a little time daily to read this little blog. I'm thankful for the amazing internet that makes not only this, but other social media possible. I'm thankful to parents like Jeanette Deutermann and Leonie Haimson who look at education, see what's best for kids, and work to attain it. I'm grateful to thinkers like Carol Burris and Diane Ravitch who cut straight through all the noise and nonsense and speak logic to it.

This is a tough time, but we are tough people. We chose this work, we chose these children, and we will stand up for them each and every day. We will not lie down and allow demagogues to walk over us. We will speak truth to power and education to privatizers. We will advocate for the best education for our children and students no matter what nonsense comes from Washington and Albany.

I'm ready to fight for American children no matter what foul winds blow from DC and Albany. We don't just teach history. We make it and I'm absolutely thankful to play some small part in it.

Finally, I'm thankful for each and every one of you who will join me in that struggle.
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