I just learned about Kipp Dawson early this morning. I got an email about a radio program where she is interviewed.

What got my attention was that Kipp spent 13 years working underground as a coal miner before she became a middle-school English teacher in Pittsburgh. I dropped a line to her, noting her unusual transition from coal miner to teacher, and she replied as follows:

You know, there is a strong parallel between these two “lives” these days. Underground we all were one another’s life savers; literally, of course. We watched out for danger and warned one another, and when one of us got hurt, all of us rescued. It was a fact of life, and it bound us all together despite whatever differences there were among us (race, gender, politics, etc.). It was the only way we could survive. And we knew things about “the life” that no one else could understand.

I’ll bet you know where I’m going with this. Today, under such scurrilous, vicious attack, teachers (and other school workers) have to be much like my coal mining buddies and I were. Unless we look out for and support one another — and perhaps even more importantly build alliances among all who care about kids and public education and our public sector workers — we’re doomed. And I don’t think we’re doomed! I feel a new period approaching where teachers are going to take back our profession, for the sake of our children. 

You, Diane Ravitch, give us important tools with which to do this. We are grateful!

(PS: I wanted to delete the last line but Kipp said no.)