I hesitated to make this public, for reasons which I think will be obvious. But as attacks on vocal educators veer into uglier territory, I think it’s important for that ugliness to be exposed and called out when it crosses lines.
This week I went to the school building to package up some books to mail to my students. This letter from someone I don’t know in Texas was waiting in my mailbox:
It’s not the first time I’ve faced harassment for speaking up about education issues (although it’s the first I recall anyone crossing the Mom Line).
During this pandemic I’ve been accused of being personally responsible for the eighteenth largest school district in the country being closed for in-person instruction–not COVID, me–and have had people publicly call for my stalking.
After I pointed to a connection between white privilege and advocacy strategy by those pushing for a return to in-person learning, my comments were spotlighted by a local board of education member, leading to a torrent of harassment via social media and email. From there those comments gained the attention of a right wing North Carolina blogger and later a fringe national publication, both of whom misrepresented what I had said and stirred up a giant nest of extremely ugly hornets. Presumably that’s how this creepy guy in Grand Prairie, TX, even knows I exist.
From frequent contact with colleagues around the state who are active in advocacy efforts, I know I am not the only one who is facing personal attacks at a time when speaking up about safety and social justice has never been more important.
Let me say this as clearly as I can:
The goal of this harassment is to intimidate educators into silence.
In the case of issues of social justice and white privilege–topics that seem to provoke the most abhorrent reaction–the aim is to preserve a harmful status quo. Attacks around COVID safety issues are intended to force school employees to accept unsafe working conditions in silence.
We can’t allow those strategies to succeed. There is too much at stake.
We have to recognize this behavior for what it is, call it out when needed, and continue with the work of shining lights where they need to be shined.