Tanesha Peeples

I May Not Like Teachers Unions' Politics But I Respect How They Hold Teachers Down

Outrage: Teachers Already Deal With Enough

Right after the Janus decision dropped, I had this conversation with an associate who’s an educator: “I had to resign because the pressures of leading a school in a struggling city without support from the district and taking care of my family and myself was taking a toll on my mental and physical health.” Keeping it real, I’m not an educator—so having minimal insight into their work has sometimes led me to be only mildly sympathetic to their struggles. And being from a city where the teachers’ union has seemingly used its power for political gain and not that of students and families has somewhat soured my views on unions. But the disappointment behind losing a great educator because of lack of support helped put things into perspective, and saddened and pissed me off. Good educators who actually care about students are hard to come by. Someone has to be able to stick up for them. Educators are overworked, underpaid and doing the best they can—most of them. And while I may not like teachers union politics, I respect how they hold their teachers down. Teachers unions have paved the way for and supported many who, at one point, were kept out of the teaching profession. Stripping them of certain powers could mean losing some amazing teachers, which has consequences for kids. Is anyone thinking of them?

Hope: Black Boy Magic

Antwon Rose’s English teacher knows the deal.
It’s important to know that so many people have this perception of our kids as being these violent gangbangers, when most of them are just kids going to school, trying to make themselves better, doing what you ask them.
And for those very reasons, Black boys as young as 5 are being pushed out of schools because of unfair discipline practices, shot dead by police and killed in the streets before they even graduate from high school. And the ones who do “make it” still struggle. Only about half of Black males graduate from high school and less than half of those who go to college earn a degree. So [pullquote position="left"]we need this “Black Boy Joy” from kids like Ishmale Powell who’s headed to college at 15 years old. Twins  Malik and Miles George are co-valedictorians who are headed to MIT in the fall. And Demetrius Harmon, who almost committed suicide but survived because of his mother. Because, while the achievement and belief gaps still exist, these young men are pushing through despite the obstacles. These real life examples serve as encouragement. Our boys and girls of color have to be continuously encouraged to keep pushing. And so do the rest of us. Let’s acknowledge a new generation of leaders, like these new Ed Trust West Fellows and these EdLoc recipients of the Boulder fund. I salute my sister Vesia Hawkins for calling out a great school in Nashville and an opportunity to start more of them. Kids can’t wait.
Tanesha Peeples
Tanesha Peeples is driven by one question in her work—“If not me, then who?” As the former Deputy Director of Activist Development for brightbeam, Tanesha merges the worlds of communications and grassroots activism to push for change in the public education system. Her passion for community and relentless mission for justice and liberation drive her in uplifting and amplifying the voices and ...

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