The first TV interview with Nelson Mandela was filmed while he was in hiding in 1961. He was only 41 years old and as a lawyer, had tried, through endless legal documents, to force the courts to consider the injustice of apartheid. After endless fruitless attempts, the government issued a warrant for his arrest.
He called for a general stay at home day or “strike.” Black South Africans were forbidden by law to refuse to go to work and could be punished with up to three years in jail, yet, tens of thousands did just this and were arrested. The movement against apartheid began after this act.
As I woke up on a warm, Sunday morning sipping my coffee, I could not help but wonder if our education system is slowly moving to a form of apartheid. In Florida, we are not allowed to strike, educators can automatically be fired and even if retired, lose their pity pensions.
I ask myself, are all our children being served equally in education? The poor versus the rich? The disabled versus the non-disabled? What happens if we mobilize to protest against these injustices? Do we lose our jobs? Suffer harsh economic and legal consequences? What would Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela say or do?
I hope change comes soon. Our education system is slowly being taken over by corporations that influence our politicians, who in turn mandate laws over education that only profit corporations. They pass laws they have no expertise or knowledge in. The only knowledge they may have is that there is plenty of money to be made on the backs of students and the educators fighting to survive day to day. Who will stand up and spark the fire for change in education this time around?
Joseph Hernández, school psychologist and Barry University professor, Miami