Let’s imagine for a second that there’s this perfect student: they spend eight hours a day in class under the tutelage of a teacher in a perfect environment, they sleep for another eight hours a day, but there are still those remaining eight hours. You, the teacher have no control over this critical time, right?
Okay, assuming that this hypothetical situation is true, then even the best of teachers could not constrain being an ally to the classroom. We know that this situation is at the very least, highly unlikely. Which gives all the more credence to the argument that a good teacher should act as an ally win the classroom and out.
Public Allies is a resource for those of us, teachers or no, who wish to be allies outside of a school setting. Their mission is “to create a just and equitable society and the diverse leadership to sustain it.” They work towards this goal by employing what they call “integrated strategies” for those who enter the program to develop the leadership skills necessary to create inclusive, diverse, and honest allies in society. A key dilemma to their approach is that it is only effective for those who participate in the program. Their scope is limited, just like a teacher’s. But then again, are holistic approaches achievable? And if they aren’t, are they worth pursuing anyway?
I would say yes, but that’s another bag of marbles altogether. We can get a coffee if you want to talk about it…
Another resource for students to get involved in safe places, and where adults can act as allies, is After School Alliance. Their mission is “To engage public will to increase public and private investment in quality afterschool program initiatives at the national, state and local levels.” They work for this by advocating on behalf of the benefits of after-school activities to provide safe places for students of all backgrounds, beliefs, races, or whatever other categories you could squeeze a person into. They engage on all levels, from the government bureaucracy to families and community members to stress the value of these after school programs. While their platform is well grounded, with voices advocating in policy making to community awareness, their platform is again limited to participants. I wasn’t a huge fan of after-school programs, partly because it was hard for me to feel included in them–so I just did my own thing. Some parents would prefer to be the loudest voice in their children’s lives, and have the resources to provide a space to exercise that voice in their homes. To add to this dilemma, current policy is shifting towards defunding public education, and publicly funded after school programs. This throws a wrench in their proverbial cogs.
Once again, I will return to the military metaphor. Like I said earlier, it is hard for me to believe that we will ever fully achieve a just and equitable society, but I do believe that it is worth fighting for anyway.