This Is What Democracy Looks Like


I had been to the Lincoln Memorial before. I had visited earlier in the week, even. But on this scorching July day, I wasn’t there by myself. Or with a few friends.

I stood before the Lincoln Memorial with hundreds of like-minded people. Ready to talk. Ready to listen.

Ready to march.

Education is a right…that is why we stand and fight.

The Save Our Schools rally, march, and conference was the end of a long and busy week for many of us this summer. Thousands of educators from across the country traveled to Washington, D.C. to serve as delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly. Some of us stayed a few extra days–and were joined by others who traveled to DC just for the SOS events–in order to march in the nation’s capital.

No justice, no peace.

We marched because we’re tired of the narrative of failing schools. The belief that we’re bad teachers. The idea that developmentally appropriate practices don’t have a place in education anymore. Charters. School takeovers. Testing, testing, testing. Black Lives Matter. The school to prison pipeline. Dreamers. Refugees.

We live in a time when many are forgetting that public education is a cornerstone of our democracy.

We live in a time where we need to help people remember.

Tell me what democracy looks like.

This is what democracy looks like.

Forward together, not one step back!

A lot has been written in the two months since the rally–mostly positive, a little negative. (And let me pause to throw in that one of my tweets got mentioned in the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet here. Totally unexpected and not about me at all; I was just the transcriber of someone else’s powerful words.)

But as one of those who is “just a teacher,” one of those who is in the classroom and deals with bullying principals and unfunded mandates and unrealistic expectations for small children–

It was validating.

It was empowering.

It was something I won’t forget.

At NEA RA and the SOS events I was surrounded by people who think and feel about education the way I do.

That is rare.

Teaching is very isolating, especially when no one around you will speak up. Or stand up for what is right. Or even admit that there’s a problem in the first place.

But for one week this summer, I was surrounded by like-minded individuals. On the floor of the NEA RA, in the NEA BATs caucus meetings, waiting for the Metro, in the fancy hotel lobby.

And at the Lincoln Memorial.

Some of my BAT friends will sign things with the word “Solidarity.” For one week in July, I saw that solidarity all around me.


From the walls of Bus Boys and Poets, where we had our dinner after the SOS conference.




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