Commentary #2: Hashtag Activism

“Taking social action is an attempt to move the school curriculum to the community; to make it relevant to the lives of the students we teach” (Vasquez, Tate, & Harste, 2013, p. 15).

This quote from Negotiating Critical Literacies with Teachers: Theoretical Foundations and Pedagogical Resources for Pre-service and In-service Contexts (Vasquez et al., 2013) reminds us of the importance of taking social action. One way that people take social action is through the use of social media, particularly with hashtags.

Introduction

             One thing that has been on my mind as of lately is the state of Iowa’s standardized testing that will be changing. Superintendents from districts all over the state came together to look at tests with the purpose of selecting the one that best fit with the Iowa Core. They ended up recommending Smarter Balanced. Despite having the recommendation of highly educated individuals, the state has chosen to go with a different assessment. One, yet to exist, created by the same company who made the Iowa Assessments. I am really not a political person, but this is just ridiculous! Why stick with the same company who’s assessments do not align with the core instruction when there was a more rigorous assessment recommended by educational professionals? This frustration has led to my selection of the hashtag: #occupyeducation for my hashtag activism.

History Behind #OccupyEducation

This hashtag came about because of the movement that started on Wall Street with people looking for justice and equality. This was in response to the budget cuts on education when already education is underfunded. It was also in response to the increase in tuition and the accruing massive loan debt students are faced with when seeking higher education. This movement continues to evolve, including now a way to show solidarity against curriculum determined by corporations and legislators rather than educators. This movement also includes the call for a diversity-rich curriculum that will prepare students for the necessary skills needed to be successful in the “real world”. This movement goes along with everything educators hope to achieve in order to put students first and put the focus back on learning.

Possible Perspectives

The first perspective within this movement I would like to discuss is that of the government. With this movement comes the call for our government to be more knowledgeable about the curriculum being implemented and considerate of the schools, including the funding being put into our schools. More people are speaking out that more funding goes into elections and politicians than to the schools educating our future leaders. The government is now questioned at a larger level about the decisions that are being made with standardized testing, curriculum, and funding. With this movement ends the acceptance that things will never change.

The second perspective within this movement that I would like to discuss is that of the educators. Educators play a large role in this movement because we live and breathe the decisions that are made. It is important that educators continue to stand up for what they believe is best for students incorporating diversity and authentic experiences into the curriculum while reassuring their students (and themselves) that one test, given once a year, does not define a student, a teacher, a school, or a district.

The third and final perspective I would like to discuss is that of the students. I truly believe this perspective is the most important. We always hear children are our future (and they are). What better way to teach them that than to show them through the means in which we instruct. Funding, diversity, and better curriculum will show them how much we value them and will give them the tools needed to become better individuals than us.

Conclusion

This #occupyeducation movement is so important as it impacts our children and their future. We must make sure we staying accountable and holding the government accountable for the actions taken, especially when those decisions are not what’s best for kids. Hopefully, this movement continues to open more dialogue between legislators, educators, parents, and students and that we continue to move in the right direction in our efforts to help raise contributing members to society.

References

Vasquez, V., Tate, S., & Harste, J. (2013). Negotiating critical literacies with teachers: Theoretical foundations and pedagogical resources for pre-service and in-service contexts. London: Routledge.

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