Finding Your Voice: A Call for Teachers to Boldly Speak the Truth

Teachers find themselves in the midst of a broken system that’s only getting worse
Man Speaking During Group Meeting
PhotoL: Kampus Production/Pexels

For years, signs of the coming storm threatening public education increasingly revealed themselves to those who were paying attention. Disciplinary decisions increasingly became based on demographics. Terms like diversity, equity, and inclusion were slowly peppered into faculty training. Students who scored in the lowest 25% on state tests became the focus of district wide success. The LGBTQ+ movement started to cleverly gain a foothold in the vein of protecting every student. And the list went on.

The slow decay had started to take shape, but dealing with it would be the work of future toils and in my mind, ultimately out of my control. And so, like my colleagues, I sat through training after training, skeptical but silent, not sure when this would all come to fruition.

Today, the storm has fully arrived. Consequences have largely been replaced with restorative justice, and behavior is wildly out of control. DEI is preached as gospel during mandatory faculty training with teacher biases assumed and blamed for discipline disparities among differing demographics. Expectations have been lowered to cater to the lowest 25%, and overall student performance has plummeted. And the gender revolution has tragically found a home in many districts, endangering countless students and teachers with its endless experimentation through unforgivable policies. And the list goes on.

This is where teachers find themselves – in the midst of a broken system that’s only getting worse. And this is exactly why teachers are so important.

Right now, many teachers are a thumb in the dam against an onslaught of dangerous propaganda being foisted on our students by a culture hell-bent on their destruction. Many are quietly and nobly standing firm, refusing to acquiesce to directives contrary to their consciences. But quiet they remain, not yet willing to speak truth to the powers that be, content with maintaining a defensive posture.

For many teachers, it seems like we are in a perpetual state of defense, constantly taking body blows to our integrity and consciences, caught on our heels, not willing to parry or attempt to gain ground in the fight.

For a large part of my career, that was my story. I minded my own business, seeking to faithfully do my job without violating my conscience, all while attempting to bury my dissatisfaction with the system, not wanting to be an outspoken contrarian.

But last year, I finally had enough with quietly being frustrated in the shadows. We were failing our students, and nobody was speaking up. And for things to change, someone needed to. So, I started to go on offense.

I started to speak up during our faculty meetings, taking issue with how our administration blamed teacher biases for the lack of equity in our discipline data. When our administration pushed for restorative justice, I asserted the need for strong discipline with appropriate consequences. Our school culture was dying as the result of our district’s soft-on-behavior policies, and our administration and faculty needed to hear it.

I called meetings with my principal about the problems I was seeing like required DEI training and gender issues manifesting on our campus. I could not comply with our district’s policies allowing students to access restrooms and locker rooms of the opposite sex.

It was on this issue that I decided to go public. Our community had no idea what was going on behind our walls, so I started to speak at school board meetings, letting parents and the community know what their schools wouldn’t tell them. This led to various news broadcasts and podcasts inviting me to speak on their platforms as well.

Teachers must realize that our voice is our biggest weapon, and we must be willing to use it. So many parents have reached out to me, lamenting over teachers they know who are afraid to speak out for fear of discipline. But we must remember that we are accountable to these parents for how we care for their children. When schools put their children in danger, we must speak. We must be willing to rock the boat. And when teachers do, they’ll find it’s not quite as scary as they may have expected.

After I started speaking in our faculty meetings, a number of my colleagues thanked me for speaking up. Some even clapped during the meetings. And many started speaking up as well, finding their own voice. After speaking publicly, our community rallied against our gender policies, and change is now on the horizon. People from around the country have reached out in support. And as of today, I’m still employed.

Our students deserve an army of teachers to emerge from their silence, and their parents are rightfully counting on us to act. So teachers, be bold. Use your voice. It just might be the catalyst to the change we so desperately need.

Matt Woodside
Matt Woodside is an educator, athletic director, and coach in Brevard County, Florida.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chalkboard Review team.

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