Self-Empowering Teachers

16 Jun

Reflections of an Author

Take a Stand. Speak up. Insist on Being Included in the Discussion.

Submitted by Frank Murphy on, June 16, 2011

The purpose of City School is to tell the story of urban public education in America from the perspectives of the principals and teachers who daily work and live in city school communities.  These are the people who best know what is taking place in any particular school.   Yet their stories are seldom told to the general public.

Teachers long have trusted that the leaders of their district, the government officials they have helped to elect, the community business leaders and the philanthropists that give additional aid to their schools, will all do the right thing.  The idea that any of these individuals might favor ideas or plans that will weaken or dismantle our public school systems has caught many of us by surprise.

When finally we realized that our leaders were unfolding plans that would lead to the privatization and dismantlement of our public school systems, we were already painted into a corner.

When we started to resist, our credibility and sincerity were under attack.  If we weren’t willing to go along with their plan, than we were told that we must be against the children.  The mainstream media has mainly taken to telling the tales of the corporate reformers who claim that the American education system is broken.  In these stories, teachers are often portrayed as villains.  They do a less than satisfactory job.  Their compensation and benefits are overblown.  It is next to impossible to fire incompetent teachers because unreasonable and greedy unions won’t allow it.  This is a caricature, which educators find to be appalling and untrue.  Most of us wonder how we suddenly came to be the bad guys?

A good part of the answer to this question is because we are easy targets. We are so busy attending to the business of our classrooms and schools that we have paid too little attention to the dealings and affairs of those who determine our future.  These would be the people who create the policies that eventually influence the governance of our school district and more importantly the funding that will be allocated to our schools.

We need to take a stand against the forces that are radically disrupting our public schools with phony reform efforts.  It is time to speak up and tell our story to the American people.

I invite readers to share your stories here at this site.  Help to tell the real story of our schools to a public that is less than familiar with our daily challenges and more importantly with the victories we often achieve.

For sure, many of you have considered preparing a written piece that describes your work as a teacher.  But the day to day demands of managing a classroom have prevented you from engaging in extracurricular writing.  Now is the time to finally write as a slower summer pace takes hold.  When we take control of creating our own narratives, we become self-empowering teachers.  So I strongly encourage you to make the time to describe your life as a teacher to the people who live in the world beyond your classroom.

If you teach in an empowerment school, talk about your experiences dealing with the top down demands of the management style of the empowerment office.

Stories from teachers who are staffing the new Promise Academies would also be of great interest.

Are you one of the hundreds of teachers who face the possibility of losing your job?  If so, how are you dealing with this unreasonable prospect?

New teachers, what kinds of supports have you received this year?

Veteran teachers, what are your thoughts concerning the changes going on within the school district?

You could talk about student interactions, classroom management, parent involvement and colleague collaboration.  You decide what story to tell.

We daily accomplish our mission of educating the youth of our society and we need to let the world know of our successes.  Your comments and personal stories will help to tell the general public of our challenges and rewards as urban educators.   Most importantly, by creating a forum to collectively tell our own stories we say that we will not continue to be passive victims of ill-conceived school reform strategies.  We instead insist on being recognized and treated as the knowledgeable professional educators that we are.

Send your stories to



Comments are closed.