Today, after lunch ended, the principal came into our office, with all of us standing there awkwardly, and she said:
“I just want to tell you that I want you two here. We need you two here. And I want you to know that I’m going to find the money. It may only be part time, but we will do what we can. I’m going to take the budget home over the weekend and find the money.”
She also apologized for her insensitivity and hurtful comments in a past staff meeting, she acknowledged her use of power to try to frame reality, and told us that yesterday’s emergency student/staff meeting was powerful…and she left saying, “So, before I just walked in, were you two organizing to overthrow me on this?”
No, we weren’t. But the students were planning some things. They had refined their walkout plans and messaging, and they were getting ready to go…the campus has been buzzing.
And they still are going to do something, but now it is a much more toned-down lunch forum about the future of student voice at the school. They’ve made new fliers. None of us are giving up, because having funding doesn’t mean that we get the kind of work we want. This is just the opening of the conversation.
What a weird place to work. A low-income high school that two years ago was totally traditional and has now become a national darling as an example of a successful conversion of a large campus into 3 small schools…an institution that is in an active state of transformation, and where very marginalized young people are finding themselves in new positions of activism and leadership around all sorts of issues…seriously, my head is just spinning and I’m in shock. What is this place?! This job is so hard to read. Every year we keep pushing and pushing, and they eventually give in…it’s like: when is this power structure actually going to stop us, because in four years it hasn’t yet. It’s kind of disconcerting.
It was almost easier just to see the principal in her power role…Briana and I were just staring at each other, like: “What happened to her? What got to her? What do we do now?” It was almost easier having all the drama…more familiar.
We’ll see, huh? There’s still the lunch forum and the staff vote on Tuesday. I’ll update as it seems valuable.