• HBenson

Stepping on Eggshells: Racism & Unions

It is never my goal to be divisive. But I felt that it would have been remiss to not include two very touchy topics in our field: first, dealing with the ever-present issue of racism in ESL (how our students are received (or not) by the district and student peers) and second, dealing with the political lean of our teachers union.

Racism shows itself frequently in this field, but it still surprises me. I don't know why I expect America to be...above it in someway--mostly because at some point all of us were new here. We all have an ancestor who dealt with being a new arrival. Still, I'm amazing through casual conversation, co-teaching, administrative handling of a new arrival, or simply through student-to-student interaction (clear cases of inherited bias), racism still rears its ugly face toward our students. And what is our goal here as the ESL students' advocate? Sometimes, as we explored in this episode ("Racism & ESL"), we see the bias more clearly than even the student recognizes right away. Our goal, of course, is to assure they are receiving the education & services they deserve without reservation.

My episode on the teacher's union came right before election--a fact of which I was keenly aware. The most acutely felt fact was how divided we teachers have become and how detrimental it is to our goals of advocacy. In the areas in which we need to be the most united for results (for our students & for our jobs), we are divided for the sake of issues not remotely related to education. I'm deeply saddened by this fact. In this episode ("Teacher's Unions"), I create a "wishlist" for our union, a sort of dream for a union that cares about me and my issues that make me feel secure in my employment and that someone out there is fighting for me.

Thank you all for listening! I'm excited to announce the topic of the next episode: Long Term ELLs, students who are defined as having been in the ESL program for 6+ years and can't seem to get out and why. Stay tuned!

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