Catalyst for Good: The Social Scholar
Catalyst for Good: Getting Back to Why I Started The Social Scholar
When I decided to launch The Social Scholar blog, I wanted to be a catalyst for good. My purpose was to shed light on policies and practices that undermine equity and equality in education, work and life. I sought to raise my consciousness and the consciousness of others. And, I wanted to create a conversation and advocate for marginalized communities who are still in pursuit of the American dream.
That was 16 months ago. President Obama was still in office. We were in the middle of a contentious presidential election campaign. And, during that campaign, voices of hatred, sexism, racism and bigotry became louder. They have not subsided. Hate crimes are up 20% in the U.S. I struggled to find my own voice through the fog of anger, disappointment, and fear. Mr. Trump ran promising that he could bring the country together. He could make America great again. It would take an outsider, he said, someone who is not tainted by the swamp that is the government insiders in Washington, D.C. In reality, the divisiveness is greater under the Trump administration. At least it is more overt.
I embrace where we are and remember that for such a time as this, The Social Scholar was born.
Resist! Is the Battle Cry
The populous has not found peace, not located common ground, and I’m not sure we are searching for it any longer. Resist! is the battle cry. The sides have dug in. Protests are the new normal all around the country – protests for Black Lives Matter, for Women’s Rights are Human Rights, for Water is Life, for Climate Change is Real, for DREAMers, for Refugees are Welcome Here, for Love is Love, for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), for religious freedom and a host of other causes. These are all worthy causes. They are the signals that our democracy is not dead. They remind us that our democracy rests within us, the citizens of this great country.
Protests are the new normal…they are signals that our democracy is not dead.
We’ve fought many battles before and we are indeed determined and resilient enough to take on these new contests. This is not what I expected would be a focal point of The Social Scholar, but I will not shrink from the sheer weight of a country undergoing change. I did say education, work and LIFE. This is our life today as fragmented and challenging as it is. I embrace where we are and remember that for such a time as this, The Social Scholar was born. My voice is alive; I am here and I care.
Speak Truth to Power
What I want to do is speak truth to power. I dedicate myself and through this blog to listening deeply and speaking thoughtfully. Over the next series of posts, I will double down on issues regarding education and work that somehow seem to be less centered. General issues of life dominate the discourse, but the education of our young people and equality in our workplaces are also paramount. Ultimately, I want to enable more of us to take informed action in all three of these areas.
Quality Education is a Right
Here, I share just some thoughts on education that will become clearer in the coming weeks. A big part of The Social Scholar is my belief that access to quality education is the right of every American. I want to make sure we are giving our attention to the experience of Our Kids because they are all our kids. Where are the protests for them?
What does school choice policy do for the 90% of children in America’s public schools? Is Secretary DeVos prepared to improve and support public schools at the same time she siphons off funds to spawn growth of charter schools? This balance of reform experimentation while supporting the environments where the majority of our children matriculate must be smart and compassionate. This is a cause that needs more attention.
Our country’s education system, its policies, our teachers, and our kids need us to be more aware and more active. Our futures hang in the balance.
Here are five actions you and I can take to stand for our children and their future through equitable and quality education:
- Run for office and take a seat on your county’s/district’s school board
- Organize a letter writing campaign to your school board officials, state legislators and Secretary DeVos to voice support for equity and equality in education; issues about equity in school funding, teacher quality and support, inclusion for immigrant students, special education, etc., and school choice are places to start. Secretary DeVos can be reached at U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202 or 1-800-USA-LEARN (1-800-872-5327)
- Adopt a school, join the PTA and volunteer your time to help improve the school, support the teachers and students
- Use social media to spread factual information about education reform policy; place a relevant hashtag on all your posts and tweets to create awareness (The Complete Guide to Twitter Hashtags for Education) #blackedu, #schoolreform, #urbaned, #latinoedu, #nativeedu
- Give money to non-profit organizations that serve students from marginalized communities or support a college scholarship fund for students in need
Getting Back to the Heart of The Social Scholar
I am reinvigorated to research and write on the important issues of equity and equality in education, work and life. That is at the heart of The Social Scholar. As the climate becomes even more cluttered with negativity, it can create feelings of anger, frustration and despair. I have been sucked in, so I know how that feels. However, I don’t want to contribute to those feelings any longer. Nothing good can come from wallowing in anger and pessimism. I want to help inform and energize all of us to stand for causes important to us and particularly those that affect our children. We can channel our anger for the greater good. I want to encourage you that your voice matters. Your actions can create a chain of reactions that lead to positive results. Let us join in a binding commitment to be catalysts for good.
© 2017 Tonya Harris Cornileus, Ph.D.
All Rights Reserved