3 Current Stunning Education Movements That Need Our Help

Photo: Getty Images

As rewarding as teaching may be, being an educator in the United States in 2018 is, simply put, brutal.

Teachers across America aren’t currently just fighting for physical security, they’re fighting for financial security. In some cases they’re fighting for equal rights. In others they’re fighting to break dangerous stereotypes.

At the risk of hyperbole, one needs no Sherlock Holmes to know that the teaching profession is at a dangerous cross roads in our country. Below are three current news stories that aren’t just going viral, they’re calling for action; a long-term positive outcome is truly contingent on our help.

A Florida middle-school teacher was moonlighting as a white-nationalist podcaster

Photo: ‘Tiana Dalichov’ aka, Dayanna Volitich via Twitter.

What happened in a nut-shell:

Dayanna Volitich was a social studies teacher at Crystal River Middle School, about 80 miles north of Tampa. She was also leading a double life as a white-nationalist, new-Nazis sympathizer whose goal was to expose her students to ‘her version of the truth.’

Washington Post

For more than a year, Volitich has been leading a double life.

She is a popular white-nationalist podcaster known as Tiana Dalichov who espouses anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and believes that Muslims should be eradicated from the earth, according to HuffPost. She’s defended and praised neo-Nazis and white nationalists such as Arthur Jones, Patrick Casey and former KKK grand wizard David Duke. She says she believes that science has proven that certain races are simply smarter than others and decried training about implicit bias in classrooms as “bulls—.”

The good news? The Huff Post outed her and she’s since resigned.

The bad news? There are still undoubtedly some in the education system who believe that institutional racism isn’t real, and that ‘preferring’ their own race to another is just fine and dandy.

What can we do?

Aside from making sure teachers aren’t producing and hosting their own neo-Nazis podcast? Promote inclusion and diversity anywhere you can. Become a volunteer for a non-profit like Big Brothers Big Sisters. Become an advocate for your community, or even better, a mentor who can serve outside your ‘usual’ bubble and into a culture other than your own. With a little effort from all of us, maybe we can make sure we have an even greater, more prepared, more accepting generation of educators for our children and grandchildren.

A Texas teacher was booted after telling students she’s gay

What happened in a nut-shell:

Stacy Bailey, an art teacher at a Texas elementary school, was suspended after pushing for the school’s anti-discrimination laws to include LGBTQ students. The school says they suspended her for talking about her sexuality with her students.

You can read more here. But Bailey is a ‘teacher of the year’ award winner. And while many in the community are standing up for her, others are still having trouble grasping the fact that she talked about her wife with her third grade classroom. Yeah, how dare she mention her spouse.

What can we do?

Since I don’t see a link online to donate to Mrs. Bailey’s legal fees, donate to the Human Rights Campaign, possibly the largest non-profit in the country dedicated to LGBTQ equal rights. To hone in on education more specifically, you could also donate to GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), whose goal has been to create safe and affirming schools since 1990.

Most importantly, be a good mentor, parent, big brother or sister. Encourage kids around you to celebrate Pride, show support for LGBTQ teachers, and if there isn’t one already, start an anti-bullying campaign.

Teachers in Oklahoma are walking out by the thousands

What’s happening in a nut shell:

Teachers in the state are drastically under-paid and the school districts are embarrassingly under-funded. In response, teachers have walked out of schools and into the state capital demanding a living wage.

Reuters

Teachers, parents and students staged sympathy rallies around the state and some 70 public school districts were forced to suspend classes on Tuesday.

Teachers’ union officials estimated 30,000 educators were off the job in Oklahoma on Tuesday and that classes were canceled for some 500,000 of the state’s 700,000 public school students – similar to the numbers in Monday’s walkout.

Want some visuals? Just look at these text books. Hard to believe they belong to a school district within the richest country in the world.

Below is possibly the most shocking video I’ve seen to date, a CNN story going viral on Facebook featuring Oklahoma educators.

One has a masters degree and has to work two jobs on the side as a caterer and Uber driver. Another teacher, a veteran, makes $1,000 a month and eats at the local church soup kitchen. There’s even a math teacher who mows lawns on the side … and makes more money mowing his lawns.

And here are the lowest paid teachers in the country according to CBS News:

Colorado: $46,506
West Virginia: $45,701
Oklahoma: $45,245
Mississippi: $42,925
South Dakota: $42,668

And that’s not counting Arizona, which is paying teachers 10 percent less than what they were earning in 1999. Teachers in Michigan? 11.5 percent less than what they were making 19 years ago.

What can we do?

Long-term: vote out the politicians who’ve supported education cuts or failed to vote on extra spending for education in your state — especially if you live in one of the states listed above.

Short-term: Head to Tulsa, Oklahoma and join the party!

We have a lot of work to do. God speed!


Josh Helmuth is a sports reporter in St. Louis and a contributor for Mandatory.