The following was read by several workers at the Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, 05/11, as a means of publicly informing the board and administration of our forming a union:
Whereas, we come to you today as an intergenerational community that has chosen to collectively act upon its longstanding concern about the disconnect between the principles of Paulo Freire and the practices of the social justice charter school we have come to love that bears his name. And as such, we appreciate this opportunity to be heard, because as Freire said, “Any situation in which some men prevent others from engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence;… to alienate humans from their own decision making is to change them into objects.”
Whereas, as individuals, we have from Day One, using various approaches, attempted to work in collaboration with the administration to create and implement a social justice working environment and curriculum that more closely reflects the needs and concerns of all students, their families, and the workers of this learning community to no avail, and we are not content with individual justice, but rather, seek systemic justice for all, throughout this institution,
Whereas the hiring of people of color for full leadership capacities in classrooms and administration is not a demonstrated priority of the current administration, and thus, the salary inequities between workers who are white and those who are not is alarming and does not mirror the social justice learning community that our founders articulated and envisioned,
From the Charter: The school will model social justice values and norms, and will build a collective awareness to foster equality and respect for all individuals.
From Paulo Freire: The oppressors do not favor promoting the community as a whole, but rather selected leaders.
Whereas, we can no longer deny the daily realities of what it is like to work in such an oppressive environment in which speaking these truths is looked upon as a threat to the power and control of the administration, as well as a reason for student suspension and worker termination, rather than an opportunity for us all to grow as a social justice learning community,
In Freire’s words: [T]he more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled. This person is not afraid to meet the people or to enter into a dialogue with them.
Whereas, this institution’s authoritarian leadership has become an obstacle to community solidarity between teachers, staff, students, and the community at large, producing a daily feeling of coming up against “brick walls” and experiencing disillusionment, apathy, indifference, sadness, and a sense of powerlessness that many teachers and students feel regarding their inability to self-determine their educational/learning and communal involvement,
As Freire explains: Leaders who do not act dialogically, but insist on imposing their decisions, do not organize the people--they manipulate them. They do not liberate, nor are they liberated: they oppress.
Whereas, we understand that the needs of the workers differ from the needs of the administration due to the hierarchy of power and privilege in our learning community, we now proudly stand as members of the Industrial Workers of the World, the union for all workers, and vow from this day forward to fight for the principles for which Paulo Freire stood and upon which this charter was founded—social justice and equity at all levels, encompassing both job security and wage equality for all workers from subs and essentials teachers to administrative staff to teachers, students, parents, and community members in association with the Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School.
We would like to close by saying that we come before you as imperfect beings with our own set of blindspots, who are willing to struggle and dialogue with others who are sincerely interested in helping our community rise to a new level of learning and growth—the on-going place of dialogue and social justice practice that the Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School was always meant to be.
As Freire teaches us: How can I dialogue if I always project ignorance onto others and never perceive my own? How can I dialogue if I am closed to - and even offended by - the contribution of others? At the point of encounter there are neither yet ignoramuses nor perfect sages; there are only people who are attempting, together, to learn more than they now know.