Teachers and others have debated the post “Why Are Teachers Silent?” The post has generated more response than anything else I have posted, with (so far) 101 comments.
Clearly, many teachers feel keenly that they should speak up against the policies they know are wrong, the practices they know are harmful to children, but many are fearful. There is a climate of fear and intimidation that now pervades many schools and districts. There is a belief in the corporate reform world that top-down control and direction are necessary, and that those who disagree are troublemakers who must be silenced. And as I said in the original post, teachers need to put food on the table and pay their mortgage.
This teacher has wrestled with her sense of ethical and moral responsibility as a professional. She responded to another regular commenter on the blog, who goes by the sobriquet “Labor Lawyer”:
Thank you very much for making this clear. As a tenured teacher, I feel very strongly that I must speak out. Given the current atmosphere of administrative persecution of those who do so, I advise our bright, young, non-tenured teachers to take their counsel in private with those they trust. I do feel that my speaking out is an ethical and moral imperative …… at least for myself. My problem is that I feel just as strongly about my perceived duty as a teacher of children to first do no harm. This ususally means abstaining from implementing stupid reform policies pushed (very agressively) by my administration. When asked about my abstention by my colleagues, I tell them that it is, for me, a matter of conscious. I have often said publicly (and I believe) that I do NOT work for any administrator. Instead, I work for the people of my district as represented by the school board. To my way of thinking, it is my moral and ethical obligation to teach the children of my district to the very best of my ability. To fulfill this obligation, it is imperative that I ignore much of the foolishness that is modern school reform. I must ask you (and will very much appreciate you expertise in this area), are my words and my perspective on this issue little more than bellicose rhetoric? Legally, ethically, and morally, where do I stand in you evaluation?