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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in politics

Posted by on in Education Leadership

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When I first decided to run for Congress, I remember who I went to for input. Surprisingly, it was not my friends and family (besides my wife!); instead, it was the educators that I have worked with over the last ten years. Not just those I have worked with in schools, but those in my personal learning network.  

Their overwhelming reaction to this new journey was positive, encouraging, and supportive.  They were real with me about the difficulties and realities of this endeavor, but they were also excited. They know the need to create change at a higher level, yet also felt confident in my ability and drive to accomplish our shared goals. They encouraged me not just to pursue this path, but to do everything in my power to make it happen.

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That is what we do as teachers. We encourage. We motivate. We push. We influence. We nurture. We believe. We kindle the fire that fuels passion in the face of adversity.

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Posted by on in Leadership

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I have found my entrance into politics exciting, exhausting, and invigorating. I knew that this would be my most challenging endeavor yet, but this is on another level. This is hard and not just in the ways that one would think.

Now, I did not think that running for a seat in the United States House of Representatives was going to be an easy task. I was fully aware that this would be the most difficult journey I had ever embraced. It's not necessarily the tasks in front of me, but how they make me question myself and reflect incessantly.

It is so easy to lose sight of what put me on this path. Instead of focusing on being the agent of change that I have been throughout my life and educational career, I find myself painted into various boxes. Our national political climate is in a state of chaos. This includes attacks on the entire working class, notably all educators at all levels. These broad attacks require a response, and the flow is constant. Respond to this, respond to that. Comment here, comment there.

As an educator, whenever I find myself confined to a box or set of expectations, I reflect and take risks, implement new approaches, and break out. I encourage the students and staff that I work with to do the same exact thing. Now that I am here, I feel that I am not doing this enough.

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

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I became an educator because I wanted to impact the lives of students in the same ways that my teachers did for me. See, I owe so much to the educators who invested their time, care, and love in me. They saw something in me and never gave up, no matter how many reasons I gave them to do so (believe me, they had PLENTY of reasons).

What I never expected was the impact that my students would have on me as a person. Not one day has passed where I have not been in awe of at least one of my students. I have seen high levels of excellence in academics, athletics, arts, and other areas. I have witnessed students overcoming the highest odds stacked against them to overcome and be successful. I have worked with so many kids who deal with things that would make the average person crumble into pieces.

To say that my students inspire me on a daily basis is an understatement. They reinforce my why for being an educator every single day. They challenge me to be the absolute best that I can. They are the reason I decided to move into the realm of politics. They have unknowingly become my motivation and are the inspiration behind the Our Future First movement.

Over the years, we have been through a lot. I remember an 8th grade class being very upset about remarks that their building principal made during an awards assembly. When they came back to our room, they suggested writing a letter and having the entire 8th grade sign it. They dictated the letter to me as I typed it for them. They distributed it to their peers and explained the cause. They presented it to the their principal. This was all them, with some positive encouragement from me to do what they thought was right and just.

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Posted by on in Leadership

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I know thousands of educators in this country. I don't know any that are not experiencing disgust, anxiety, anger, and many other emotions now due to the direction of our country. We are working within the confines of racism, misogyny, classism, and intolerance to educate our students the best that we can. But are we doing enough? Could we be doing more? Are our voices truly being heard?

A lot of these educators are doing the best they can in their respective classrooms and schools, but that is often where the activism stops. See, many of us work in conservative districts where expressing ourselves and thoughts on social media and to the world is a negative. We are afraid to get too involved because we do not want our involvement to come back to haunt us. 

Did you know that as public school educators, the First Amendment protects us as long as we are speaking outside of our official duties in the interest of the public (Garcetti v. Ceballos)?  The ACLU published a must-read piece, "Government Employees Get to Have Opinions, Too", that details how we can voice our thoughts without fear of retribution.  Basically, don’t speak about your specific, official duties outside of school and you will be fine. If you do experience any issues with your employer, reach out to the ACLU right away. 

In the current state of our nation, freedom of speech is arguably the biggest right that we have to battle a dictatorial administration. It is our ability to speak out against policy decisions that do not benefit us as Americans. It allows us to join in solidarity to make our voices heard. Without it, America is no different from any other authoritarian regime.

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Posted by on in General

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If you follow me on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook, chances are you have seen my usage of #OurFutureFirst, but what does it mean? What and who does it apply to? Why am I using it when posting about political, global, and educational issues? What is the point?

I came up with the phrase “Our Future First” when discussing politics and life with my good friend and mentor Marlena Gross-Taylor. We were trying to create a slogan for a potential political campaign that would be inclusive while signalling our intent to focus on the future of our country and our world. I suggested these three words and we immediately knew that we had something.

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