Over the summer, I joined the exciting roster of new commentators at Feminist Magazine on KPFK Pacifica radio. I will be sharing perspectives on social justice and feminism in education.
Transcript of my first commentary on the invisibility of teachers as leaders in the media and the need to re-position our voices in political and educational discourse follows below.
I’m Ileana Jiménez. It’s a pleasure to be on Feminist Magazine on KPFK Pacifica as a regular commentator on education. I blog at feministteacher.com and tweet at @feministteacher on the intersection of education and equity, activism and justice.
Teachers love a frame and I’m going to provide a frame. The focus of my first commentary is teachers and our invisibility in the media. I see this first topic as an entry point into future segments on education that I’ll be sharing with you.
Teachers are not often invited to be a part of the media whether it’s on broadcast news, the radio, or online, but we’re quite frequently framed as scapegoats on issues such as blocking education reform to not stopping bullying.
We’re talked about a great deal, but we aren’t the ones doing the talking on platforms where it matters. To make matters worse, for how much we’re charged for the academic lives of children and young people, we’re often accused of entering teaching from the lowest ranks of our college graduating classes and are seen as having little preparation in our content areas. In short, we’re not seen as intellectuals who contribute to the larger public good.
The opposite could not be more true. Today’s corps of teachers are incredibly committed and smart. We’re changemakers and visionaries. In fact, teachers are so tired of not being in the media that we are creating spaces in social media to hear each other.
Anyone can take a look at Twitter and see teachers sharing advice with each other on hashtags called #ntchat for new teachers or #engchat for English teachers or #globaled for global views on education or #edtech for incorporating technology in the classroom. You an also find us at #BlackEd and #LatinoEd for issues on education relating to African-American and Latino communities.
One of my favorite conversations on Twitter is the #ethnicstudies hashtag, which follows the ban of ethnic studies in high schools in Arizona and what educators and activists are doing to counter these bans not just in Arizona but across the country.
There’s a strong sense of solidarity among teachers on issues that affect how and what we teach and what we find important to share with young people about their cultures and communities, their identities and futures. On all of these hashtags, teachers are creating community, smart and intellectual communities at that, for making schools that much more cutting edge.
We need more teachers to be in the media shaping public discourse on education. Our larger culture looks too often to policymakers and politicians for the pulse of education, but they aren’t the ones working with our young people everyday, nor are they the ones with 24-hour teaching jobs that entails not just grading and designing curricula but taking care of young people facing racism, sexism, homophobia as well as other issues such as violence, assault, and even homelessness.
With our election cycle nearing, education will most likely be a part of what both candidates will address. However, teachers themselves won’t be the commentators, we won’t be the pundits, and we won’t be the ones shaping policy. Teacher work sits at the intersection of education and civil rights. We see what needs to be addressed in our classrooms and our communities. It’s time we’re also the ones that are looked to for our expertise.
As part of our upcoming conversations, I’ll be sharing my work on feminist teaching in high school classrooms as well as at upcoming events such as the National Women’s Studies Association conference that I’ll let you know more about. Until then keep fighting the good fight.