I recently had a conversation with a friend who is not an educator. Somehow we got on the conversation of education and he was asking for my thoughts about some education related issues he had been reading in the news and seeing on TV. Anyone that knows me can tell you that, as the principal of a middle school, I love a good education topic or debate. As we were talking my voice began to get loud and I began using my hands more and the expressions on my face were animated. When I finished talking he simply asked, “why are you so angry?” I was stunned by his question because I didn’t feel anger in that moment. I felt passion.
Anger is a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. Passion can be defined as the strong but barely controllable emotion one feels about something. There are definitely some aspects of our current educational systems that frustrate me. I believe the way in which teachers are trained is outdated. I believe the lack of diversity in teaching is one of the reasons for the achievement gap between students of color and white students. It blows my mind to see non-educators making the majority of decisions in education.
All of this drives me to do what I do. It is my passion for a quality and equitable education that defines my identity. The passion is what enables me to live with an intent to make a positive and lasting impact, to bring about a complete change. The passion is what fuels my motivation and inspires me to create opportunities for the all children, especially the loneliest and left out. My passion to see a total change in education is that extra flame that burns inside of me. The passion fuels a relentless and unflinchingly drives me to achieve my goals in life.
We have far too many teacher preparation programs that don’t even teach cultural competency yet feel it is ok to send young naïve students to our poorest and most underachieving schools. And make no mistake, these schools almost always happen to be full of African American students who they have never taught before. Do these preparation programs even worry about implicit bias? On a positive note, we are learning a lot about what works in teacher prep and we now know which schools are getting it right and which ones aren't. Luckily for us, of the only thirteen schools nationwide to score an A+ for their teacher prep programs, two of them are right here in our state: Taylor University and St. Joseph's College. So that's something.
I remain very troubled by the disparity in the number of teachers of color versus white teachers, particularly in our schools that are almost entirely attended by students of color. What has happened to all the teachers of color? My frustration about it drives the passion and it is part of the reason my friend and I created the Educate ME Foundation . Educators need to have a strong voice in the policies that come down and greatly impact them and the students in their classrooms. I do not want uninformed politicians passing bills without knowledge of what what is happening on the ground in schools. For that reason, I joined a policy fellowship called Indianapolis Teach Plus Policy Fellowship, to channel my passion into action. And influence.
People can say what they want about me being angry about injustice in our educational system. I’d counter by asking them where is there outrage? And passion? And what are they doing to make things better?