By Jesse Bacon
Social Media Consultant to VIVA
Karaoke night at Netroots Nation, the nation’s largest gathering of online activists. This crowd knows how to get down, sometimes drowning out the singer! Elana from Brooklyn, her bright orange hear shining like the sun, sings “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder. When she gets to “Teachers..keep on teaching” she gets the largest cheer of the night!
Netroots Nation was not a teachers convention. Education occupied maybe the second tier of panels, the subject of four panels, a caucus and a movie. There was some division about what to do about it among the attendees, and a general despair at tackling such a difficult issue in the wake of Wisconsin. But, more importantly, love of teachers came out in the most spontaneous and beautiful moments.
It’s out there…plenty of evidence that tide of anti-teacher sentiment may be turning.
Cecile Richards, the head of Planned Parenthood was walking the floor of the exhibition hall at Netroots Nation 2012. She was one the most popular figures at the 2700 person progressive conference because of her status as a right-wing bete noire. She cut a striking figure, as she passed a teachers’ union booth, she said “It’s nice to see someone standing up teachers!” She was one of the many who took a photo to thank their favorite teacher.
Van Jones, former Obama advisor and dreamer-in-chief at Rebuild the Dream, was delivering the keynote speech of the conference about the conference’s central dilemma of how to simultaneously disagree with Obama on some issues and ensure his reelection. He used the word quandary, then said off-handedly “Thank you public school education. Thank you teachers.”
So from all of us at VIVA Teachers, whether you are liberal or conservative, whether you teach in a public school or some other kind, we want to echo those leaders: Thank you. You are not alone.”
What do you think, teachers? Is the tide turning?