A Note from Karen
August 31, 2011
During the weekend of July 29- 31, 2011, a rally was held in Washington, DC called “Save Our Schools.” Sponsored by a collection of people from all walks of life and from every corner of the nation, more than 5,000 people came together to stand united by one belief- that it’s time for teachers and parents to organize and reclaim control of our schools- in other words, to put the “public” back into public education. Their purpose was to urge national leaders to focus on education reform that provides a high-quality education for EVERY student.
I personally wish that I could have attended, particularly when I heard about the speech given by actor and philanthropist Matt Damon.
For those of you who don’t know, Matt Damon is the son of a teacher. His mother is a professor of early childhood education in Boston, and Matt and his brother went to public schools in Boston for their K-12 years. Flying across the country all night to be at the event, Damon raised many of the common sense issues that educators have been saying for years. And after speaking, he later defended teachers to an aggressive reporter, and this encounter led to one of the most “popular” videos on You-Tube this summer. You can find it if you search for "Matt Damon and his Mom."
I liked his whole speech, and a couple of my favorite parts I have to share with you.
“I had incredible teachers. As I look at my life today- the things that I value most about myself- my imagination, my love of acting, my passion for writing, my love of learning, my curiosity- all of these things came from the way I was parented and taught. And none of these qualities I just mentioned, none of these qualities I prize so deeply, these qualities that have brought me so much joy, that have made me so successful professionally even, none of these qualities who make me who I am, can be tested.”
Matt went on to say: “I said before that I had incredible teachers. And that’s true. But it’s more than that. My teachers were EMPOWERED to teach me. Their time wasn’t taken up with a bunch of silly test prep — a bunch of drill and kill nonsense that any serious person knows doesn’t promote real learning. No, my teachers were free to approach me and every other kid in that classroom like an individual puzzle. They took so much care in figuring out who we were and how to best make the lessons resonate with each of us. They were empowered to unlock our potential. In other words, they were allowed to be teachers.”
I particularly like that phrase- “empowered to teach”. I believe that’s what we are charged with doing every year- unlocking the potential of every child. I know first-hand how hard you work and all that you do to unlock this potential in every student in Puyallup every year.
What you all do is nothing short of amazing.
I’ll let Matt’s message to those at the rally, and really to all of us, be my final thoughts :
“So the next time you’re feeling down, or exhausted, or unappreciated, or at the end of your rope; the next time you turn on the TV and see yourself called “overpaid;” the next time you encounter some simple-minded, punitive policy that’s been driven into your life by some corporate reformer who has literally never taught anyone anything. … Please know that there are millions of us behind you. You have an army of regular people standing right behind you, and our appreciation for what you do is so deeply felt. We love you, we thank you and we will always have your back.”
Have a great year- and Thanks for all that you do.
(I have included a link to Matt’s inspiring speech here, as well as on the Video page of this website. I hope you'll watch it.)