What to do when you have done everything you can

This has been a rocky week for Wisconsin teachers and administrators. That’s saying something, in the era of Governor Scott Walker and a very polarizing debate around public education. For K-12 schools, teachers may no longer be required to have a degree in education, or even a degree period, to teacher courses in secondary schools. For higher education, our legislators proposed a $250 million dollar cut and opened the doors for the University of Wisconsin system to get rid of tenure. For a solid summary of these happenings, check out Valerie Strauss’s commentary for the Washington Post.

For my part, here is a list of how I have personally advocated for public education recently:

  • I wrote a post on our school blog that provided details about the decisions our lawmakers were considering regarding K-12 education.
  • I personally invited our legislators in our voting district to visit our elementary school.
  • I spoke with parents regarding these cuts to public education, in hopes of them advocating for our students and schools.
  • I submitted an original commentary for the editorial page of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which was an adaptation of a post I recently penned.
  • I asked two major software vendors on Twitter, who our district partners with regarding student learning, on where they stand with these cuts to public education.
  • I have encouraged my faculty to contact our legislators personally, not just as teachers, but as community members and as parents concerned about students.

As I read this list, it sounds like a pat on the back. Maybe I needed it. 🙂

But with that, I know that I cannot advocate in isolation and expect true change to happen. It has to be a group effort. I thought Senator Elizabeth Warren embodied our feelings perfectly in a recent public interview.

When you come down to it, it is about money as we fight the privatization of public education. This is the kind of fire we need to see from everyone who cares about public education and democracy in general.

For me, I feel like I have advocated quite effectively. What I need to do now is relax and enjoy being with my family over the weekend. I can do this because I have confidence that I am not the only one affecting change. In other words, I am assuming that it is you, the reader, who is also a change agent of a better outcome for our present and future.

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is a 17-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th grade teacher. After seven years of teaching, he served as a dean of students, assistant principal and athletic director before becoming an elementary principal in Wisconsin Rapids. Matt is now an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District (http://mineralpointschools.org/). Matt tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD (www.ascd.org) and Lead Literacy (www.leadliteracy.com).

4 thoughts on “What to do when you have done everything you can”

  1. Matt, So proud that you are such a strong advocate for WI public education and doing what’s right for all students. Your many examples of what you have done personally speak volumes of your commitment to public education and will, hopefully, inspire others to do the same. Bravo!

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  2. Good on you Matt. You are doing your bit, and I hope you and your family are enjoying the weekend. What great words from your Senator. I love that she says that nothing will change until enough people stand up and say, “I’m mad as hell and i’m not going to take it any more!” Let’s whip them into that frenzy! 🙂

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