Monday, May 23, 2005

Graduation speech for new teachers

Graduation. Multilingual/Multicultural Teacher Preparation Center. May, 21,2005.
California State University -Sacramento

Good afternoon.
Gracias, y muy buenas tardes.

Thank you for the invitation to speak to you today.
Congratulations to all on your graduation. I know that it has been a long, difficult journey.

We salute you. And, we congratulate you and your families.

This is a very important step forward.
Now, next year, as new teachers, it will be even more difficult.

Let me begin with a quote from a hero of mine; Cesar Chavez.

“When we are really honest with ourselves, We must admit that our lives are all that really belong to us. So, it is how we use our lives that determines what kind of people we are. It is my deepest conviction that only by giving our lives do we find life. I am convinced that the truest act of to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally non violent struggle for justice. “
March, 1968.

Quiero compartir con ustedes una idea importante del lider sindicalista Cesar Chavez.

“Cuando somos realmente honestos con nosotros mismos debemos Admitire que nuestras vidas son todo lo que verdaderamente nos pertenecen. Por lo tanto, es como usamos nuestras vidas lo que determina que clase de hombres somos. Es mi creencia mas profunda que solamente con dar nuestra vida encontramos la vida. Estoy convencido de que el acto mas verdadero de valor .. es sacrificarnos por los demas en una lucha por la justicia totalmente no violenta.”

Now, Our center does not ask you to sacrifice yourself. But we do ask you to dedicate yourself to the struggle for justice for your kids.

And, that is what teaching is. It is a dedication to struggle so that your kids learn to read, to write, to prepare for life and the work world, and to prepare for democractic citizenship.

Since its beginning back in 1976, our centers have been dedicated to
the struggle for social justice, and to democracy.

That is what makes us different.

You may know that democracy is in danger today.

For example, look at the Governor’s refusal to adequately fund the schools.
The fiscal reality is that California ranks 44 in per-pupil spending, 46th in pupil teacher ratio, 32 in teacher salaries and 29th. in education spending as a percentage of personal income.
Last year the Governor took 2 Billion from the school budget to protect the tax breaks of the very rich.
Then, last week he gave back 200 Million.

As a result, California ranks about 37th. in readng and math, and we have a over 50% drop out rate for Latinos, Blacks, and Hmong.

To under fund the schools, to deprive the children, is a choice our legislature and our governor makes each year in the budget. And, they are making it again this month.

So, if you are not interested in politics, I guess then that you are not interested in your children having quality schools and teachers.

And then, after failing to provide the funds, the elected officials and the public expect you to work even harder to make up for their failure to adequately fund the schools.

As my friend Cornel West says so well in his book, Democracy Matters, the dangers in our democracy are directly connected to our empire. The war, and empire, will take the lives of some of the students which you teach.

In the last three years we have spent $300 Billion in Iraq. California’s schools are under funded by at least 3 Billion. You figure it out.

And, social justice.
It is not all kids who are failing. It is not all kids who are in a school with a scripted curriculum, bored, alienated. It is not 50% of all kids who will drop out and and end up in juvenile hall.

It is kids from poor families, working class families. Our goal has been to prepare you to change that. We want you to bring school success to all of these kids.

We must prepare our students to struggle for justice and to struggle for democracy.
It’s a tough world out there. They need to know how to read, write, and to respect. They need to know how to make democracy work for them. Teaching these things will require a great deal of change.

As you now know, teaching is hard work. You will have too many children, with too many problems, and too few resources to help them.

Some of you will have principals who are weak- or incompetent. And some will have superintendents and governors who are more interested in making a name for themselves than in improving the schools.

There will be future crises. There will be a budget crisis in California for at least the next decade. You will need to fight for the resources for your kids.
And, many of you will face personal crises in your lives and in your families.

When these things happen. We want you to take a deep breath, take a step back, and to stay focused on what is important. We want you to keep your eyes on the prize.

Justice for all.

AS the first step. The very first step. Is to join with thousands of other teachers this Wed. May 25th. for a march on the Capitol. Over 10,000 of us are going to visit the governor and talk with him about school funding. I hope to see you there. Bring your friends and families. Bring all of those who care about public schools.

And, just in case the governor decides to spend the day at his other home in Los Angeles, there will be another 20,000 teachers, nurses, fire fighters waiting for him there.

As you graduate, allow me to explain a very basic point.
You are our BMED strategy for change. You are our hope for the future.

Our hope is to prepare teachers like you. And to fill the schools with teachers who care, with teachers willing to fight for their kids, to fight for justice.
Good teachers make a difference in the lives of their kids.

So, you are our change strategy.
Important. First step when you get to your new school, Make an ally. You need allies. We all need allies. Change occurs when people work together. Almost nothing is accomplished alone.

Second, keep in touch with us. Come back to our conference.
You can follow the debates, participate in the debates and school battles on my blog.

With this graduation, You are now a teacher

Once you get your feet firmly on the ground, we hope that you come back. In a couple of years come back and get a Masters degree with us in Bilingual/Multicultural Education.

As you know your classes this last year have often been rushed, Now is the time to learn by doing. Then, with some experience, come back for a Masters and together we can design a program to help you become a change agents.

Today is a day of celebration. You have earned it.
Gracias, y buena suerte.

Si se puede!

Dr. Duane E. Campbell
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