Duff wanted to talk to teachers alone. He wanted to listen to them.
After, Senator Duff always asked to talk with students - and did the same thing. He wanted to hear their perspectives. (We later learned what everyone said - funny how the inside scoop always leaks).
It's 2014, however, and this year "Bob" decided it was okay for Julie and me to stay in the room and hear what the teachers had to say. He e wanted us in the conversation (although he had to say, "Bryan, let them talk" - I admit, it was VERY hard not to bounce off what I was hearing the teachers tell him).
I could pull out my writer's notebook and type the bulleted list I captured, but the concerns expressed parallel the lists most any school would create given today's educational climate:
- teachers need more autonomy,
- teachers crave better professional development,
- teachers need to be respected as career-minded individuals,
- teachers deserve more control of grade level curriculum,
- teacher evaluations have not worked,
- testing continues to grow more and more out of control,
- students are drowning and hating school,
- the mandates have taken all joy out of learning,
- administrators come and go too quickly,
- schools need sustainable investments,
- there needs to be more support to bring southern Connecticut communities together,
- etc. etc. etc.
In return, Bob Duff offered a history of Connecticut's struggle with local control of schools. He addressed how the CWP funding has been chopped every year, but he always fights to bring it back. He wanted to know what he could do to better advocate for teachers; he is a proud parent of public school students in Norwalk.
Each year, I grow more and more fond of Bob Duff's integrity. He has opinions and stances, but he truly does listen to the perspectives of others before heading to Hartford each year (and many of the teachers stated he is present at every Norwalk function they've ever attended). The National Writing Project is grateful to any and all who advocate for the good work teachers do. Bob Duff allows us to do so much and my hats always off to him
It was also an honor to introduce Senator Bob Duff to Ubuntu Academy yesterday and for him to talk with new American youth who arrived to the United States in the last few months as refugees and immigrants. It was, I imagine, the first time any of the kids from Congo, Equador, Rwanda, Cameroon, Benin, El Salvador, and Vietnam have had the chance to meet an American politician. Most of the young people have only been in the country a few moths. I knew they were impressed by his presence because it was the first time I heard many of them speak.
Senator Bob Duff is the Man! Thumbs up for leading as he does.