I slipped in class today and said something I would not normally say.

The discussion was on the federal government shutdown (possibility) and budgets (reality). A student questioned why there was so little national governance over state educational policy and as a class we put the topic of federalism into the nice neat box of reserved and exclusive powers. Drawing parallels to the crisis in the State of California, I commented that the current disagreements are a  partisan issue. The student then asked, “Why would Republicans be willing to do this much damage to our education system?” There was not even a second before I responded, “Because Republicans want to destroy the existing system and privatize it all.”

I was embarrassed the minute the words came out of my mouth. I do not typically share my personal views with the class without clear labels in a safe conversation. It was an ardent political statement, and I was upset with myself for saying it.  But it was out there.

My students enjoyed my discomfort for a minute as I apologized for being so blunt. I re-focused the conversation and we continued on with class.

Analyzing the conversation again while waiting for news on our (possible) federal shutdown I have re-confirmed that I am an idealist.

I believe our elected representatives can work together.
I believe they want to act for the best interest of our country and not solely for moral and money purposes.
I believe that political will is all that is needed to take action.
I believe in democracy.

Idealism in education leads me to these thoughts:
I believe my students can learn.
I believe good teachers make a difference in students’ lives.
I believe in a public education system that provides ALL people access to educational opportunities.
I believe educational issues can be addressed with visionary policy.
I believe I have a voice.

I will return to my objective stance in the classroom and encourage my students to converse on topics and issues that are important to them. I hope my idealism is catchy and the conversations will focus on the positive possibilities and realities as everyone works for change.  But I guess that, too, is idealistic.


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