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I was inspired by President Obama’s speech.  As a classroom teacher, I would consider myself a public servant, working long hours and going beyond the call of duty for not much money.  I do it because I love it; it’s what I am passionate about.

However, I am left with a feeling of needing to do more, engaging in an area where few teachers venture: public policy.  Teacher leadership takes many forms from being a role model for your students in the classroom to mentoring beginning teachers to blogging about student learning and teacher issues.  In some part teacher leadership should extend to our public policy and decision making.  Complacency and unproductive complaining yields no results.  We must advocate for our unions to take an active and supporting role in school reform, tearing down the conception that unions are outdated and an obstacle to change.  We must advocate for education issues ourselves: meeting with legislators, voting, campaigning for favored candidates, and running for office.  Make our voices heard, speaking out for our students and their needs.  I often wonder how many legislators were once educators?  How many are lawyers?  There’s an obvious imbalance.

For years I have tired of sitting on the sidelines.  I am weary of lawmakers making ill-informed decisions that impact my day-to-day job, while affecting my students’ learning.  I am tired of an inadequately funded education system.  I am tired of a education system that, as President Obama spoke, “fails to many.”

This will take doing; making a conscious and delibate change towards shaping education policy.  Hestiation creeps in though when I think of the sacrifice this will involve: time away from the classroom, and even less personal time with family and friends.  I am ready though to start taking small steps.  What do I have to lose?

Come Tuesday we will bear witness to a significant event in our lives: the swearing in of the first African-American President.  President-elect Obama represents the best of American ideals and the American dream.  My students, predominately low-income and of color, have been watching this election process with a great deal of interest.  I witnessed some of my “toughest students” get teary eyed when speaking about the election night and what it represented to them.  This has made me reevaluate my lesson plans for Tuesday.  I am going to scrap my original lesson plans in lieu of watching the inauguration on the T.V.  I am now wrestling with how do I create a valuable learning lesson around this event?  Or do I simply relax; the students and I just watch it without any “learning objectives”?  Maybe I will explain what’s happening, answer student questions, and then ask for some type of reflection at the end of the period?   Arrrrr…

What are you doing for Tuesday?  I would love to hear your ideas.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/16/education/16school.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

obama