The Price of Speaking for the Hidden

You may have heard that the state of Michigan is paying for the pursuit of a lawsuit by the Detroit Public School District against two of its teachers. And you may wonder, just what terrible thing did the teachers do that justifies the state’s payment of $320,000 in legal fees against them?

They are accused of promoting teacher sick outs.

And why would they do such a thing?

Because they cared for kids.

Such is the price these days of caring for kids.

You see, the sickouts brought attention to the fact that teaching and learning conditions in may Detroit schools were horrendous. As reported in CNN, “Black mold grows in the classrooms of Spain Elementary-Middle School.

Rats and roaches run through the halls of Moses Field School and pieces of ceiling have fallen on the heads of students at Palmer Park Preparatory Academy.

At Thirkell Elementary-Middle School, eighth-graders are housed in the gym and pulled to classrooms for core subjects an hour or so a day due to a shortage of teachers.”
Spain Elementary.jpg

Though there had been a pattern of teacher and parent complaints, nothing was done about these issues until Detroit teachers finally took the action of walking out. This direct wide action generated the publicity needed to draw attention to the fact that we must not forget those children we are leaving behind.

The teachers have been victimized for courageously and persistently teaching under impossible conditions, and now, as result of speaking truth to power, they are having the power that the state can bring to bear on them as a mean of controlling, quieting, and terrorizing.

This is the same state has taken no responsibility for its emergency management of the Detroit Public Schools district that the EM has brought to the brink of bankruptcy.

The New York Times reports, “In Detroit, the schools are on the brink of insolvency after a series of emergency managers dating to 2009 repeatedly failed to grapple with its financial troubles, while also falling short on maintaining school buildings and addressing academic deficiencies. “

So the state falls short on maintenance of buildings, has elementary classrooms full of 45 students, runs out of money to pay teachers, and then spends more money to sue said teachers for making all of this visible?

Understanding requires that we remember who it is happening to. It is those who have been most marginalized- in this case, specifically, the poor and black students of Detroit. Those who are easiest to forget. Those who remain most hidden.

And the message of the lawsuit is that there will be price to pay for those who refuse to allow the lives of the marginalized to remain hidden.

In his incredible book, Endgame, Derrick Jensen shares a tenant of civilization that certainly applies here:

“Civilization is based on a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often articulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims.”

Sounds all too familiar.

Photo from TruthRevolt.org

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5 responses to “The Price of Speaking for the Hidden

  1. Powerful. I loved the Derrick Jensen quote!

  2. I think it is time to bring out the pitchforks and boil the oil for the “father knows best or else I’ll destroy you and make you hurt” profiteers and frauds pushing autocratic, dictatorial, child abusing, opaque, publicly funded, private sector corporate public education reform. This is Trumpism at its worst, squeeze money out of the rocks until they scream and then crush the rocks for gravel.

  3. Good piece. I do think it’s interesting that the state is going after Steve Conn (Former DFT president, deposed by his own union)and his right-hand assistant, Nicole Conaway of BAMN. When the current (temporary) president Ivy Bailey and DFT moderates organized the sick-outs, Conn and Conaway claimed that *they* were in charge of the movement. And when AFT Pres Weingarten showed up and gave Bailey and her crew credit and a production crew to shoot nationally released news videos, Conn & Co. went ballistic. Internal union stress has not helped the situation, which is indeed dire.

    Targeting Conn and Conaway makes it very clear who the Powers That Be want shut down. Or–maybe they’re just the low-hanging fruit, so to speak, for Lansing.

  4. Reblogged this on Mister Journalism: "Reading, Sharing, Discussing, Learning" and commented:

    The Price of Speaking for the Hidden
    by wboyler
    You may have heard that the state of Michigan is paying for the pursuit of a lawsuit by the Detroit Public School District against two of its teachers. And you may wonder, just what terrible thing did the teachers do that justifies the state’s payment of $320,000 in legal fees against them?

    They are accused of promoting teacher sick outs.

    And why would they do such a thing?

    Because they cared for kids.

    Such is the price these days of caring for kids.

    You see, the sickouts brought attention to the fact that teaching and learning conditions in may Detroit schools were horrendous.

  5. Personal responsibility is aimed at the lower classes while those with power avoid responsibility.

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