While reading the back-to-school posts of fellow blogging academics Chuck Ryback and Rachel Ida Buff this week, I realized I was hesitant about my own writing because I hadn’t yet figured out which question I was trying to answer. Then, an attitude common to each of their blogs — a readily apparent, fierce dedication to serving students — pointed the way like Scott Walker directing billionaire donors to the pork barrel.
Just who is it I’m working for?
Same as the old boss. (YouTube video)
Ask any dedicated teacher and you’ll know the answer for the rest of us. The idea that it’s all about the students becomes such a mantra that it can appear as no more than lip service, but the most committed among UW System faculty make clear, over and over, that our calling is to help students become well-rounded, capable citizens who think critically.
I like that UW-Green Bay’s Chuck Rybak, an associate professor of English, writes in a way that appears to channel anger and outrage into passionate, strong, clear argument. Maybe he’s not at all an angry guy and I’m just reading my own resentment into some of his work. He’s clearly, however, a hell of a writer and among those I respect for telling a story that needs to be told, over and over, until the people of Wisconsin are convinced that we need to do something about our so-called leaders.
I believe the rest of us in the UW system also need to work harder to find ways to make similar messages heard. Although we should be as civil as is useful and warranted, this isn’t necessarily about playing nice. Unfortunately, so many of the people who should be reading this kind of blog are probably the last people who do, and they probably aren’t going to until most of the rest of the state is practically up in arms. The best way to make that happen is to remind others of the incredible damage we’re allowing various miscreants to do.
Public education, and public higher education, is not only a great achievement, it is one of the most amazing human achievements in all of our history. If there’s anyone out there in Wisconsin who cares, and happens to read this, know that supporting this system, this public good, is easy. Let’s try to remember the infinite rewards within our reach for what seems like such minimal effort. If that’s not practical, then I don’t know what is. It’s more than practical. It really is miraculous. — Chuck Rybak on Sad Iron
Normally I just share these posts on Facebook, but I’m convinced that part of what we need to do as leaders in education is network with, encourage, and work together with others who are speaking out. Even something as simple as giving a post like this a second home on another blog may bring a few more readers and maybe even help change a mind or two.
Dr. Rybak gave me permission to reblog his latest post, which I then found I couldn’t do because his “reblog” button isn’t active. But you can read it by clicking on the illustration below. And it’s not a bad thing to share it further.