An Open Letter to Arkansas Teachers (and those who love them)

…Remarks at the #payAReducators Block Party & Rally by Stacey James McAdoo…

#payAReducators statewide coalition block party & rally 8/7/22

Welcome everyone to the #PayAReducators Block Party. I am Stacey McAdoo, your Forever 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year. Before I begin, I’m going to need your help. When I say “Forward Together,” I need you to say, “Not one step back.”  

Call and Respond (2x):

FORWARD TOGETHER

NOT ONE STEP BACK

My year of recognition was a bittersweet experience. Every time I received a standing ovation for simply entering a room, was moved into first class, had my dinner comped, was invited to tables and into spaces where my opinion was sought — righteous indignation would take up residency in my heart. And my mind would be full of thoughts like:

Every. Educator. Deserves. This. Type. Of. Experience.  

Call and Respond (2x):

FORWARD TOGETHER

NOT ONE STEP BACK

Do you know what else every educator deserves? To be treated and financially compensated as the professionals they are. As the professionals you are. 

They say power concedes nothing without a demand. So, teachers, I’m thanking you in advance for the continual use of your teacher voice and for showing up for yourself, and for advocating for the policies and practices you KNOW will improve education, equity, and student success. 

As we enter this new school year and our policymakers head into special session, election season, and the general session — Teachers, and those who love us, please make time to continue to fight for our profession. And on those days when you start to wonder why more people aren’t standing beside you and why you always have to be the squeaky wheel — or you begin to get weary and tired from the “no’s,” the “waits,” the “what abouts,” the finger pointing, the gaslights, the “not now’s” and the “we don’t have the support to put it on the call or to make this happen right now”…

Be persistent. 

And in your pursuit and advocacy for what’s just and right… may the words of Langston Hughes lift you up, propel you forward and offer you the strength and courage to 

“…keep a-climbin’ on,

And reachin’ landin’s,

And turnin’ corners,

And sometimes goin’ in the dark

Where there ain’t been no light.

So [teachers], don’t you turn back.

Don’t you set down on the steps

’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.

Don’t. You. FALL. Now.”

Call and Respond (3x)

FORWARD TOGETHER.

NOT ONE STEP BACK.

How are we gonna move? (2x)

FORWARD TOGETHER

NOT ONE STEP BACK.

***

Stacey McAdoo is the 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year and has nineteen years of classroom experience advocating for traditionally underrepresented students. The award-winning Arkansas PBS docuseries Closing the Opportunity Gap and course Coaching Self Expression: Go-In Poet provide an intimate look at her relationship-based approach to nurturing students. As the founder of the Writeous Poets (a spoken word and youth advocacy collective) and a professional development facilitator, she designs and leads sessions that focus on arts integration, empowering student and teacher voice, and promoting equity and the success of diverse learners. She is also the host of A Mile In My Shoes: The Walk & Talk Podcast and the Executive Director for Teach Plus Arkansas where she runs a policy fellowship for teachers that she helps elevate teacher voice and empowers teacher leaders to advocate for policy changes at all levels of the education system.

1 thought on “An Open Letter to Arkansas Teachers (and those who love them)

  1. You have a way with word my friend. The words you string together are both beautiful and powerful , filled with both light and energy. Thank you for using them to advocate for education.

    Like

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