I believe Rodney Ellis would be proud of us.
While it has almost been a year to the day that we lost this leader, father, and tireless public school advocate, there is still his unmistakable presence among us here in North Carolina.
Think of all that has occurred in this last year with the continued assault on traditional public schools led by a General Assembly bent on privatizing a public good.
- Think of the struggle to get rid of gerrymandered legislative districts.
- Think of the unconstitutional Voter ID laws.
- Think of the discriminatory HB2 law and the fallout.
- Think of the recent decision by the president to end DACA for many of our students.
- Think of passive nature of the current state superintendent.
- Think of less money for students in public schools.
- Think of the manipulation of funding vouchers and unregulated charter schools.
- Think of the de-professionalizing of the teaching profession by lawmakers.
Rodney Ellis would be in the thick of those battles because he would make sure to focus on the students who are affected by these actions. And he would tell us to keep fighting the good fight.
There is no doubt in my mind that we public school advocates will continue to confront these issues head-on. There is no doubt that we have great leaders like Mark Jewell now in place to help guide our actions and efforts and remove obstacles.
I would like to think that those who leave us still are among us in spirit. While it doesn’t take away all of the sorrow or pain, what we do as public school advocates is bigger than just us. Rodney knew that; he knew that the collective strength of our communities is greater than the sum of the individual parts.
On Friday, I believe I will wear this shirt. Rodney gave it to me one time before a rally in Raleigh. I think of him every time I put it on. The more I wear it, the more comfortable it is.
Yes, I think Rodney would be proud of us.
Actually, I think he is proud of us.