Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Commentary on Cavanagh Students - Campbell Brown and Mona Davids Want Her Fired

You can have a conversation with Julie Cavanagh on any topic but nothing lights her up more than talking about her students, two of whom are heading off to college. Julie has taught special needs children and what a joy to see these kids break out of that mold. Read her email (Julie Cavanagh Former Students Head For College - Help Them Out) and head over to GoFundMe to help them out at Herkimer College, a SUNY school upstate.

I know I'm taking some privilege in turning this appeal for funding into a political message and Julie will probably be pissed at me, but I can't help it.

There is little that makes a teacher happier than seeing former students on the right track, especially elementary school teachers like Julie Cavanagh who see these outcomes years later. (Seeing my former 10-11 year old students as adults with their own children is one of the fruits of teaching younger kids - some of my favorite stuff on Facebook.)

Julie doesn't go deep into the support that she and her husband have been willing to provide her former students - Julie has always pointed out - and did so in our film - that one of her teachers helped find a college for her - Indiana U - and drove her out there almost 20 years ago. And Julie and Glenn are paying it back by doing the same with these students this week. But Julie is careful to point out she is no heroic teacher taking over the lives of these students, telling me "they came to us with a the plan and the school, we just helped cross the t's and dot the i's."

Think about how the parents of these kids feel. There must be some joy at seeing the kids going to college, but also some apprehension given recent events in Staten Island and Missouri. Will some cop in a small town upstate get the wrong idea? Teachers (and especially police), need to also think like social workers and and we need to have deep conversations about what our students face and how we as educators have a role and a responsibility in fighting for racial, social and economic justice.

Which forces me to make this point - which I will over and over again. Kids of color face more danger from bad police than from tenured teachers. Where is the Moaning Mona Davids and Campbell Brown lawsuits to hold police and their unions, which stand up for anything cops do, accountable?

Teachers like Julie continuously put themselves at risk with their activism on so many levels. As was pointed out in my post yesterday about parents supporting teacher tenure - Why Parent Leaders Should Join Court Intervention in Support of Tenure.

I remember when Jeff Kaufman in 2005 helped out one of his students at Rikers by smuggling college prep materials into him and Jeff then spent months in the rubber room and would have been fired if the Moaning Mona and Brown suits are successful.

If we had a union that really wanted to defend tenure they would be making these cases every single day - even threaten to punch people in the face for daring to put people like Jeff and Julie in jeopardy.

I have such outrage at these bogus lawsuits, but especially at self-serving Moaning Mona Davids, who was befriended by Julie and knows as well as anyone the kinds of risks Julie took over the years to stand up for students, parents and teachers - like signing on as one of 2 teachers (the fab Seung Ok was the other) in the suit to hold a demo at Bloomberg's house, which Moaning Mona was happy to support. (And then blew up a year of Julie's work when she vindictively destroyed our film's website - I wonder how much she tried to extort from the ed deformers for doing that.)

Does anyone think it impossible under certain conditions (outspoken teacher as target) to be brought up on charges by a vindictive principal for taking former students into her car, even if to college - also note the Jeff Kaufman/Rikers story above? And how many teachers are so fearful of consequences of not having tenure that they will think twice before getting involved?

Yet Moaning Mona wants to put the protections teachers like Julie and Jeff have in danger.

Campbell Brown may be a slug but Moaning Mona Davids should not be able to look at herself in the mirror.

1 comment:

  1. Julie deserves this post. She is truly a teacher we should all aspire to be.


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