A Call for Social Media Solidarity: “This Is Our House”

Let me start with an image.

Whether you have witnessed this in person or on TV, picture a college football stadium during a special event game when the fans organize a “white out” (or other appropriate color). The effect is impressive with the stadium almost entirely one color, a statement by the fans that “this is our house.”

Now, let me make a case about creating that same sort of solidarity among educators and public education advocates through social media.

Historically and significantly during the last three decades, U.S. public education policy and public discourse have been dominated by politicians, political appointees, billionaire hobbyists, pundits, and self-appointed entrepreneurs—most of whom having no or little experience or expertise in the field of education or education scholarship.

In fact, the “white out” in the media is inversely proportional to the expertise in the field:

Across MSNBC, CNN, And Fox, Only 9 Percent Of Guests In Education Segments Were Educators. On segments in which there was a substantial discussion of domestic education policy between January 1, 2014, and October 31, 2014, there were 185 guests total on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox, only 16 of whom were educators, or 9 percent. Media Matters

Next, allow me to chase what may appear to be a brief tangent.

While teaching high school English in rural SC for 18 years, I always enjoyed my U.S. literature unit on Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. One of the lines from the play was particularly enjoyable—when Tituba exclaims, “No, no, sir, I don’t truck with no Devil!”

Having grown up in the 1960s and 1970s, my mind always goes to this [1]:

Art and property of Robert Crumb.

But students often found the phrasing odd, despite my affinity for the metaphor and power of Tituba’s language.

To this day, I am apt to adopt Tituba’s stance when expressing my allegiances, and that brings me back to the point of this call for social media solidarity among educators and public education advocates.

Over about two years of blogging at my own site and engaging regularly on Twitter and other social media platforms, I have gradually adopted a stance that I do not truck with those who are disproportionately dominating the field of and public discourse about education.

Yes, I have done my share of calling out, discrediting, and arguing with, but except on rare occasions, I am done with that. Those who have tried to include me in the “@” wars on Twitter may have noticed my silence when the other side is added.

Each time we invoke their names, their flawed ideas, or their policies, we are joining the tables they have set. Once again, look at the chart above.

Also, don’t forget the Oliver Rule in which one-on-one debates imply for the public equal credibility between two people debating. As well, to debate implies that a position is debatable [2], and some issues simply aren’t up for debate.

Therefore, I am now asking that educators, scholars, and public education advocates who are active on social media (blogging, Tweeting, etc.) to make an effort to dedicate a day, a week, a month, or as I have done, a policy to creating our own educators’ “white out” on social media—establishing our place for our voices as a model against the mainstream media dedicated to those with authority (elections, appointments, wealth) but without credibility.

Don’t spend blogs rejecting their public claims and education policy.

Don’t engage them on Twitter, or “@” them into a Twitter exchange.

Symbolic messages matter, and the strongest message we can send about those who shall not be named is exactly that: erase them from the spaces they have dominated without deserving that space.

And in that open arena, let us raise our voices.

Our cases about what is not working and why, our evidence-based proposals for reform, our struggles in the classroom, our successes with students, our recognition of social and educational inequity, our commitment to social justice driven by educational equity—and all on our terms, not theirs.

This is our house.

See Also

Claiming the Education Reform Narrative

Whose Reform?: Claiming the Education Reform Narrative, pt. 2

[1] The term “keep on truckin'” likely reaches back to at least early twentieth century Jazz musicians; Robert Crumb popularized this in the late 1960s, however.

[2] Please examine how anti-evolution forces have “won” in the public arena by making teaching an evolution a debate, notably detailed in the documentary Flock of Dodos.

4 comments

  1. Pingback: Paul Thomas vs. Peter Greene: Should We Debate the “Reformers”? | Diane Ravitch's blog

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