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Monday, February 1, 2021

The heroism of saying no.

 I recently read two articles about teachers that made me shake my head. One was about a kindergarten teacher, giving remote instruction from the chemo ward, and the second was about a principal with a second-night job at Walmart who donated those checks to struggling families. Both were presented as heroes, but the reality is they are a big part of the problem.

Society has the resources to take care of its needs. We don’t need either of them, and so many more like them doing what they are doing. The problem is society has decided it's better to yoke teachers or guilt them into doing even more than what they are supposed to do rather than address those needs. We are like the guys in Tom Sawyer’s neighborhood painting the fence. Content to do so until we realize our own fence is falling down and we don’t have the time or energy to do something about it.

It is not brave to work 15-20 unpaid hours a week, neglecting yourself or your family.  What’s brave is to say no. No, you won’t be yoked like a farm animal, or spend what little extra money you have on essentials, be marginalized or blamed for all the ills of society when society doesn’t want to commit to fixing them. It’s not brave to work a second job to give some students more or risk your health while taking what is basically poison, to kill a bigger poison and still going to work either. 

Teachers are not liberators or saviors; they definitely shouldn’t be martyrs either. If they want to be heroes, then they should start by saying no because nothing is going to change as long as society feels entitled to mistreat them.

You want to really be a hero, say no to spending your money on stuff you should have ready access to, or working unpaid overtime, volunteering for things you don’t want to because there is nobody else to do it and so much more that educators are already expected to do, on their dime, and on their time. Instead say no, and fight to make change things, fight to make things better, because hoping they will or expecting society to do the right thing has not been working.

Be a real hero, not a sap or a sucker, and not a martyr and please just say no. 

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