About Madison Woodward

Madison is a teacher at a public alternative high school for students with severe behavioral concerns. She has become an advocate for marginalized students and equity in education since entering alternative education. She loves to write about her passion for teaching and informing others about the realities of this career.

A week after the election, we have a much better grasp of what is to come in two short months. Joe Biden was declared the President-elect over the weekend, bringing many solace and others concern. Over the weekend, President-elect Joe Biden’s website was updated to include information on the transition that will take place in January. For educators, now is the time to consider what we want to see, and hold our soon-to-be administration accountable. 

Besides the obvious celebration of the inevitable removal of Betsy Devos, our current and unqualified Secretary of Education, we have even more to look forward to the return of dignity to the highest office in our country. The idea of hope, instead of fear. Most importantly, the possibility of progress rather than stagnation or regression. 

In the classroom itself, it means not being afraid to show students the news or presidential tweets. For the last four years, we have had to tiptoe around politicization, and curate information related to our current president to avoid misinformation or the encouragement of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia. It also means not having to carefully denounce hatred in order to not be accused of indoctrinating students. 

For our nation, there is potential hope that some of the actions done by the current administration can slowly be undone. We look toward our soon-to-be administration to cancel standardized testing for this school year due to the pandemic. The Patriotic Education Commission should be disbanded, while also reinstituting Critical Race Theory back into federal employee training. Most importantly, there should be a shift in focus from charter and private school endorsement back to public education. 

While it is good to see a First Lady who has experience as a public school educator, community college professor, and with a doctoral degree, we must ask: Does it stop there? Click To Tweet

We cannot forget that the damage has been done, and there must be healing. While it is good to see a First Lady who has experience as a public school educator, community college professor, and with a doctoral degree, we must ask: Does it stop there? Experience is great, but we need action to reform our education system. This change in administration is the first step to progress, but we are not guaranteed to be prioritized or see the changes we desperately need. 

Here is what this administration needs to do at the minimum:

Bolster Public School Funding: Teachers across the country need to see raises that reflect the experience, education, training, and workload needed to be a strong teacher. Schools also need to be equipped with the materials they need to be successful regardless of their background. This includes PPE, school supplies, continued teacher training, after-school programs, and other programs that bridge gaps in education.

Equity: We want to see equity at the forefront of education discussions and decisions. Districts need to be held to a higher standard of ensuring equity for their students. This includes extensive teacher training, looking at how we fund schools, evaluating the standards being taught across the country, etc. 

School Recovery from the Pandemic: First and foremost, we need actual guidance from the department of education for how to proceed with the pandemic. The coming administration needs to look at how it will help not only students but teachers recover from this difficult school year. Teachers have been demonized this entire pandemic and handed unsustainable workloads – this needs to be addressed as part of the bigger issue of burnout. There needs to be a plan for addressing how the communities of our most vulnerable students will be supported and heal from this pandemic. 

Affordable and Accessible Higher Education: A plan for affordable or free community college for all students should be a part of the equation going forward. We would also like to see other initiatives to ensure higher education is more accessible for all students, which might include extending community college offerings past an Associate’s degree. 

This election win is only the beginning. As educators, now is the time to advocate for ourselves and our students, and not settle for less.

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