You Can Come for Me But I Grew Up in the Community I Fight For and I'm Not Playing Politics

Feb 5, 2019 12:00:00 AM

by Tanesha Peeples

Outrage: How Much Longer Are We Going to Make Excuses for This Sham Public Education System? Ain’t no hope this week. Just straight up outrage. It’s been a sad ass couple of days in public education with an overload of racism, anti-choice, political foolery and pointing of fingers. And who’s left suffering once again? Students and families. Question: [pullquote]How much longer are y’all going to attack the people doing real work for and telling the truth on behalf of students and families?[/pullquote] Because I wrote a piece last week about how the unions aren’t striking for kids and people were big mad. When my friend and sister in the struggle, Alma Marquez, shared her experience as a Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) student and voiced concerns over disingenuous student and family advocacy, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) tried to shut her down. Listen, y’all can come at us all day, every day and we still won’t back down. We grew up in the communities we’re working for, survived the systems we’re fighting against and we’re not playing for politics. We’re fighting for liberation and are willing to fight alongside and not against y’all. Get with the program.   Now, onto the everlasting outrage of racism in schools. How long is it going to take us to really address racism in schools? Because there’s something new on this issue almost every day. Like the ACLU having to sue an entire school district in Michigan for its persistent racism against students. And schools in Collierville, Tennessee, are getting a tongue-lashing from the state for its unfair discipline practices against Black and disabled students. Look, America, Black people are here to stay. Latino people are here to stay—regardless of whatever wall or policies Trump tries to build—and disabled people deserve fair and equal treatment. Stop treating us like second class citizens before someone invokes a Nat Turner revolt on y’all ass. Finally, how long will it take before y’all stop pointing the finger everywhere else except for our failing school system? How can we boast about a 5 percent rise in high school graduation rates when some of these schools’ valedictorians are barely making it through college? How can we be confident that they’re prepared to succeed when there are incidents all across the country where schools have pushed students through? We’re seeing a wave of teacher strikes around the country and a popular talking point is how charter schools have taken so many resources from traditional public schools. UTLA was so convincing in this argument that the L.A. school board granted a behind closed doors deal to cap charter school growth, despite opposition from thousands of pro-choice parents. But if charter schools are to blame for traditional schools failing students now, who or what was to blame before they came on the scene? Poverty, lack of parent engagement and district support, funding are some of the usual suspects but, as Chris Stewart puts it, better teaching rarely comes up. So whatever it is, figure it out. Because parents like Jeimee Estrada aren’t liking being forced to send her children to a failing school. And like Alma said, y’all need to fix failing schools first before limiting options that work for students and families. I lied earlier about not having hope. If there’s anything to be hopeful for, it’s that one day we all prioritize students over politics. I hope that people really embrace the fact that per pupil funding belongs to the student—not a school, a district or a model. And we have to respect a parents’ choice and right to send their child to whatever school they please. And my greatest hope is that one day all kids of color finally get the education they need and deserve.

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 advocacy of those that are often ignored. Tanesha wholeheartedly believes that education is the foundation for success. Her grand vision is one where everyone—regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender or ZIP code—can have access to a comfortable quality of life and enjoy the freedoms and liberties promised to all Americans. And that's what she works towards every day.

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