Friday, December 4, 2009

Bringing Back Miss G

I know many people don’t read the paper as much as they used to, particularly my favorite part, the California section of the Los Angeles Times.  But you should!  By way of update, Monday there was a truly inspiring story about a Hamilton High School office administrator (Miss G) who was laid off by LA Unified School District and then brought back though an organization of student activists (link).

I was so inspired by these young kids who found their voices and collectively took action to save the job of a school official they were all close to. The students said they felt “Miss G really cared about them” and that it was “unfair” she should be fired.  Not willing to accept Miss G’s layoff, they came up with a plan to show their dissatisfaction at the district’s decision.  They had meetings, utilized social media and respectfully protested at school and then went to the School Board where they presented a succinct, inspiring argument as to why she should be rehired.  And guess what?  They were heard and their argument was successful.     

Back in September President Obama gave a back-to-school speech in Arlington where he asked students to be committed.  He said: “Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.”  Well, these students answered the call and accomplished what they set out to do. 

I am writing this not merely to say “go kids go.”  I am writing this because what they did was truly remarkable.   They got LAUSD, one of the most bureaucratic, political entities, to listen. They argued fairness, kindness, and appealed to reason.  The kids didn’t buy the district’s answer laying-off Miss G was a good solution to a school budget crisis – not when Miss G had not only always done good work but also genuinely cared about students, education, and the school. They tactically argued that her low seniority status was not a good measure to use as a basis for the layoff.  And their voices were heard! Steve Zimmer of the LA School Board broke protocol by commending the students in their presentation to the Board. Then, Miss G returned to Hamilton High!  

This story illustrates an opportunity - a teachable moment if you will. So, please share this story with YOUR children.   Encourage your kids to find their voices and highlight how their voices can be heard.  Kids need to know that they have a place, space, and voice in not only their world, but our world too!  Let them know that kids can make change and be the source of admiration amongst us crotchety grown-ups. Tell them that when you are dedicated to a good cause, you can make good things happen. Give your kids a reason to believe that THEIR voices will be heard by you, as well.

Having authentic dialogue with your kids - using these kinds of news stories -reminds them that their opinions matter. You can provide positive reinforcement and a reason for your kid to care enough to express themselves (to you, and to the world)! 

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