Recent teacher strikes in communities throughout California have sparked a public conversation this year on how we value teachers, and the answer is simply: not enough. Teachers are the backbone of our public school system, working long hours for inadequate pay all while receiving few resources and limited professional development. This is especially true for our Black and Brown teachers who are invaluable to the learning outcomes of students and families of color.
While strikes in Los Angeles and Oakland saw victories for the teacher unions who were pushing for basic needs like a living wage and nurses and academic counselors on every campus, we can’t afford to keep pushing our teachers to the edge like this. Strikes take a heavy mental and physical toll on teachers and community alike.
The strikes also illuminated how impacted Black, Latinx, immigrant, refugee students and students with disabilities are by 40 years of underinvesting in public schools. They showed how critical it is for our teachers, families, education leaders and community to lead together in addressing inequity in our classrooms and campuses.
Imagine if our communities and school leaders demonstrated the type of respect and investment our teachers and communities need everyday? Imagine schools where teachers had the resources and tools and time to be able to connect with their students meaningfully? For teachers to be able to support and create joy for learning?
At Californians for Justice we partner with teachers and students across the state to push for these supports. Through our Relationship Centered Schools work we know the impact and importance of being able to have relationships built on trust and support. These elements are critical for the success of our highest needs students.
During a recent implicit bias and relationship training by CFJ in Long Beach, a teacher reflected on how “a simple convo between trusted adult and student can make a huge difference. From just a question of ‘how was your day?’That can get them to open up and create a huge picture of change and gets them to school and keeps them going.”
This type of relationship does not need to be one-sided and we can all choose to show up, engage and support our teachers in ways that they feel valued, heard and supported by. Learn more about our Relationship Centered Schools work and how it helps students and teachers alike feel safe, supported and capable of thriving. So that our youth may grow up to be the leaders that our families, communities and the State of California need.
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