Sunday, November 1, 2015

Everyday Advocates – Mark Nash

As an advocate, what accomplishment have you found most satisfying?

I do think we are seeing the tide turning when it comes to what “reform” is really all about. I also enjoy being a part of the sites that shine a light on what “reform” is really about.
What are some of your frustrations or obstacles that you have met or overcome?

Too many people simply do not care. Supporters of “reform” have framed the discussion as a Republican vs. Democrat issue, when we can look around us to see that the attack on education is coming from both sides of the aisle. If a Republican says something, too many people are blindly following the statement without doing any research. Apathy, especially among fellow educators stands out though as THE most frustrating part.
What keeps you going?

My students! While in my room, in front of my classes, I can shut out the “noise”, or at least minimize it and still have an impact on the lives of these students. The fact is though, as each year passes, I learn more than I ever teach.
What do you want parents to know about public education issues?

I would like to see a higher level of parent engagement in the education of their children. Local control of schools is being eroded, and it is the parents of our students who can lead the fight against that.
How can parents get involved in advocating for public schools?

Talk to educators about what is happening; dig deeper into the laws that are being passed before they have too much of a negative impact on their children.
What has been your experience in dealing with legislators?

They are not listening. Time and time again, I see the same old sound bites about why they are doing what they do, when the sad reality is they are simply puppets for reformers like the Koch brothers and other interests. They simply refuse to even have a conversation about the damage they are causing.
Has your experience with legislators been good/bad? Has it helped?

It has been awful. I have been told by some they are listening, yet they are not. I was told in an email from Senator Kruse before the session a couple years ago that he was in favor of holding off on any more reforms until we can see the results and that he simply was not sure he had enough support in his own committee to hold any further reforms back. Since that time, he has voted for every reform that his committee has seen.
Why are public schools important to everyone in a community?

We all benefit from an educated population. Not only do property values increase from a good school system, the community itself benefits from seeing productive students enter the workforce in the community when they finish school.
Why is public education advocacy important to you?

Because we are headed down a road that is in the opposite direction of what needs to be done for our schools. The current system identifies winners and losers. Many will say closing failing schools is the answer; the fact is that students lose. There are no winners, except for a select few. The current system will have more and more students falling behind, making it much more difficult to be a productive and educated member of our society.

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