Those who abuse power rely on darkness to do their damage. When management wants to threaten a worker, it isolates that person and insists on individual meetings and secrecy. We see this time and again in the abuse of the educator evaluation system when educators are targeted, shamed and silenced.
But when we throw light on management's abuses, we shift the balance of power. When we refuse to be shamed, we turn the shame back on the bullies.
We believe that Deborah McCarthy, president of the Hull Teachers Association, was targeted by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for her support of students opting out of MCAS. You can read more of the details here, but the short version is that the DESE decided to visit Hull to assess the district's testing protocol on the only day that Deb, a fierce anti-testing advocate, would be administering tests. Everyone involved believed this to be an attempt to intimidate Deb into silence.
They chose the wrong person.
On hearing of the visit, Deb:
- Wrote a blog post about what was being done to her and the students.
- Contacted parents to seek their support.
- Contacted educators, asking them to wear red for ed in support of her.
- Contacted me to show up in support.
- Contacted her legislators to tell the story.
- Contacted reporters, who picked up the story and started calling the DESE.
The DESE observation was scheduled for today. Beginning late Friday night, when Deb learned of the impending visit, this educating and mobilizing took off like a brush fire on social media. Parents were scheduled to stand out in the morning holding signs in support of Deb. Educators had red clothing at the ready. Reporters were ready to roll the cameras.
By Sunday night, the DESE had informed the superintendent that the visit was canceled. As Deb reported in her updated blog post: In response to a reporter's inquiry, a DESE spokesperson wrote to say that while Hull had been randomly chosen for a quality check and they had no concerns, they decided to cancel the observation so that no one feels targeted.
Deb was able to do all of this because she had built relationships and communication systems and because she shared her understanding of the ways that management works to intimidate and silence. No one was fooled, and everyone felt they had Deb's back and each other's.
That's how this works. That's how we win.
Let's continue to build power and solidarity within our locals, across the state and nationally by wearing RED FOR ED this Wednesday in support of the educators of North Carolina - the latest to organize walkouts for school funding - and in honor of Deb, the educators in Hull and all of our MTA sisters and brothers refusing to be silenced or intimidated.