Something happened to a teacher friend of mine yesterday.
A zealous citizen of his town intentionally showed up in his neighborhood with a sign and bullhorn and “picketed” outside his house on a sidewalk that borders the yard. The teacher was not home but his family was – wife and two young children. The teacher was helping other teachers and school workers advocate for safe schools at the time.
It was targeted. It was intrusive.
It was meant to be intimidating.
Actually, it was cowardly.
I have done some rallying in my time as a public school advocate. Marched in Raleigh. Attended rallies. Marched in my hometown. Picketed public places peacefully. And I have engaged in conversations with people when offered a chance even if I did not agree with them. I address some people in posts – most always lawmakers and when in Raleigh, I have gone to talk with them at the General Assembly.
And people have addressed me respectfully and with vitriol over social media and post responses. Sometimes it happens at meetings. I write a blog. There are bound to be disagreements.
BUT I WOULD NEVER GO TO SOMEONE”S HOUSE AND YELL THROUGH A BULLHORN BECAUSE I DISAGREED WITH THAT PERSON.
To do that would mean I am actively doxxing another and that person’s family. It means that I exert energy thinking that my mere presence and loud voice will bully someone into stopping an action. It means that there is an ill will towards someone else’s well-being and I am advertising that.
Petty. Sophomoric. Selfish.
To do this is not advocating for a cause but targeting someone else by crossing a line and thinking that intimidation is a solution to a problem that really is out of teachers’ hands.
But this instance of reckless bravado by a weakly convicted individual has actually done two things: unite teachers and public school advocates as well as show the absolute disconnect that many in the public have about schools.
Educators are about collaboration, teamwork, community. They are part of something bigger. When something happens to an educator, others are affected as well. Educators band together.
This pandemic has brought out the best in so many people and it also has exposed some of the worst character defects in people. To blame teachers for closed school buildings when they are fighting for safe school building re-openings in a day where there are few vaccinations of adults in schools, new variants of a virus, and a community spread enabled by society’s carelessness is ignorant.
Maybe this individual thought that he was doing something lawful and well within reason. Maybe he thought, “Heck, teachers picket all the time!”
We do exercise our right to protest. But we do it in public places with announced intent and never single out a person’s home.
And usually as a group.