I'm very grateful to all of you for reading, retweeting, "liking," commenting, and inspiring me in this venture. I'll be more specific below; but first, indulge me for a minute or two in a birthday rant:
This blog has garnered more and more attention lately, to the point that I've tripled my audience over the last year. That's very gratifying, and I appreciate everyone's support, but it's clearly not good enough.
While I can see that some of the questions and arguments I've put forward have entered the conversation around education "reform," particularly in New Jersey, it's also clear that the messages of the teacher blogosphere haven't penetrated the dialogue on education as much as they must.
This is a serious problem: the voices of teachers are not being heard. I've tried to contribute as much as I could from this blog, but it's obviously not enough. We need to demand our place at the table; we need to force ourselves on to the pages of newspapers, and in the statehouses, and on the airwaves. Talking to each other via social media is important - but it's only a start.
I haven't blogged about this, but as Jersey Jazzman has gained notoriety, there's been a change: I've gone from being anonymous to pseudonymous. In other words, I'm still blogging under a pen name (laptop name?), but many people know who I am; that includes people who I have been less than kind to on this blog.
That may seem like a small point, but it's important to me, because blogging as JJ allows me to separate my teaching from my advocacy work. I am, first and foremost, a teacher; aside from my family, it's my primary responsibility, and I take it very seriously. Blogging under a pseudonym helps me to keep these two worlds as separate as I can.
Unfortunately, however, I'm growing increasingly concerned about what is happening in this state and around the country. It's undeniable that we are in a War Against Teachers; if we lose, this war is going to destroy public education in America. Yes, that sounds hyperbolic; the problem is it's the truth. When teaching is transformed from a career into a job, our schools and our students will be the ones to pay the price.
I simply can't sit on the sidelines and let that happen. So this year I'm planning on getting more directly involved in the conversation. I'll talk more about that as the year unfolds.
OK, let me give some thanks before this gets too maudlin:
- Diane Ravitch. There's nothing I can add to what's already been said about this woman. Every teacher in America owes Diane more thanks than we could ever give.
- Rosi Efthim and the whole staff at Blue Jersey. I'm very proud to be involved with this terrific community. I think Ed Reform 101 is probably the best thing I've done, and that's all because of Rosi. She has been a great source of encouragement and advice.
- Defend NJ's Public Schools, the Facebook page that gets me more traffic than anyplace else. Every state needs a social media advocate as dedicated, as insightful, and as bold as the people who run this great resource.
- Dr. Bruce Baker and Dr. Matt DiCarlo. These two are dispassionate, critical thinkers who have used their extraordinary analytical skills to shed a light on the fallacies that pervade the reformy agenda. If you are a teacher, a parent, or anyone who cares about education, you must read their blogs. At the end of the day, I'm just a pissed off teacher, but they are the ones who are doing the truly important policy work that is the best hope for saving our schools.
- Marie Corfield. This is, perhaps, the bravest woman I know. She stood up to a bully of a governor, put herself in the national spotlight by running for the NJ Assembly, and is running again in spite of the fact that she is an extremely busy mother and teacher. If every educator in America had the courage and fortitude of Marie, this battle would have been over before it started. If you enjoy this blog, please support Marie in her campaign!
- The Education Law Center. These are people who have quite literally used public policy and the law to save children's lives. They are fighting to good fight for all of us.
- The NJEA. No, I haven't always agreed with my union. But they are a critical part of stopping the reformy juggernaut. If you are a teacher, get involved with your local; it's the only way to both save our profession and help the union get better.
- All the retweeters and "likers." There are way too many to thank, but I'll try to #FF you this week!
- Mrs. Jazzman and the Jazzboys. 'Nuff said.
Year Three starts tomorrow. Many thanks to all, and may the Merit Pay Fairy watch over you...
Ain't you done squawkin' yet? It ain't like youse won a Grammy or somthin'!