Monday, November 18, 2019

Another Reason Why I March #RedforEd

NEIFPE member Donna Roof posted this on Facebook.
Another Reason Why I March #RedforEd

Back in 2011, Phyllis Bush and I began to notice that things were changing in public education due to education reform—and not necessarily in good ways for teachers and students. It was at a town hall meeting where Phyllis had her first “Norma Rae moment.” And as the saying goes, the rest is history.

We attended the Save Our Schools March in Washington, D.C. that summer. We became fan girls of Diane Ravitch. We realized that things happening in Indiana were the exact, same things happening in other states, too. We brought back what we had learned there and then organized with like-minded individuals to form Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education (NEIFPE). If someone had told us then that 8 years later the same fight for public education would be going on, we wouldn’t have believed him.

It is amazing to see so many public education advocates coming together to be at the Statehouse on November 19. Phyllis envisioned such a day when public education advocates from across the state would come together to fight against the reformers and the deleterious legislation that has adversely affected public schools, their teachers, their students, and their communities.

Her public education advocacy was known locally, statewide, and nationally. She also served on the Network for Public Education (NPE) Board of Directors. Despite being retired, she worked tirelessly to inform people about what was happening in/to public schools. When she gave a call to action, she led by example by writing letters to the editor, writing to the legislators, testifying at the Statehouse, and helping and encouraging others to get involved in the fight to save public schools.

Phyllis would be proud of this Day of Action, yet she would also understand the difficult decisions public school officials would face and the effects of such decisions on parents and students. She would know that teachers would be conflicted about taking the day or not out of concern for their students. However, she believed so strongly in public schools that she would see the urgency and necessity of having a Day of Action. Like one of her favorite quotations goes: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; in fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead)

Despite all her worries, she would greatly appreciate all that administrators, teachers, support staff, parents, community members, and students are doing to save public education. Her heart would be filled with pride because she loved teaching.

I am excited to attend this event and see the thousands of people there, yet I have a bit of sadness in knowing she won’t be by my side to experience it, for she passed away on March 19 of this year. However, I know that she will be there in spirit.

November 19 marks 8 months that she has been gone. There will be some of us there wearing a button with her picture to honor her memory and all of her public education advocacy. Over 15,000 people will be there to march on the Statehouse that day! How wonderful is that!

Let’s keep fighting the good fight and keep her legacy alive. It’s the right thing to do for the kids. It’s past time to bring back the joy of learning and teaching!


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