3. If there was one thing that you want readers to take away from your book, what would it be?
If we do not focus on the root of the problem, nothing we do will make any difference. The root of the problem is spiritual.
Inside each of us is a spiritual material. Our spiritual material is made up of our abilities, capacities, potential, and purpose. Each of those qualities is impacted by our history. In our history we have spiritual encounters—spiritual occurrences. Some of those occurrences are beautiful and they fortify us for our life journey. Some of them are tragic and traumatic. Most of us bury these moments deep inside our psyche so that they don’t hurt us or bother us in our everyday living. Nevertheless, those occurrences do influence all of our decisions, behaviors, and attitudes. Both types of occurrences serve to help shape and deliver our purpose.
But if we do not deal with the traumatic spiritual occurrences they hide from us our abilities, capacities, potential, and purpose. And we walk around life lost in the familiarity of our everyday.
That lost-ness produces energies like depression, anxiety, fear, and ignorance. Ignorance has devastated African American neighborhoods and communities, and schools of color across the country. The Educational Contract calls for a deep spiritual work in our public educational system and calls for parents to lead a globally inclusive movement in the practice of freedom and participation in the transformation of our school system and ultimately of our world.
4. What is at stake if the current situation of our public schools is not addressed?
What’s at stake if we do not reverse the trend of 20 to 55 percent of our students dropping out of school is our nation’s ability to compete in the global economy that will only get bigger and move faster as technology continues to advance. The United States will not only be left behind, but we may not survive.
5. What advice would you give aspiring educators who may be dismayed by all of the changes in the profession?
My advice to new and aspiring educators is to on occasion remember why you love the work. Keep a journal or a record of why you decided to teach, and refer back to it when you feel overwhelmed by all the things you must deal with that really have nothing to do with teaching and remember why you chose to teach. It is this remembering that will take you through tough times—moments of tears, frustrations, and moments of wanting to give up. Without that remembering you many find yourself falling into a culture that I have only seen in public education and politics. It is a culture in which people retire with good pensions, while producing defective products for decades. It is easy to hold onto your job as a teacher. It is more tricky to be an inspiring teacher.