How do you know you’re a parent activist fighting the good fight for public education? Here’s a few signs in no particular order:
- You begin and end every conversation with “The revolution.” Or “We have to fight this.”
- People start telling you their public education horror stories. Often finishing with, “So, I moved my kid to private school and now he’s doing great.” Or, “Now we home school and she’s doing well.” Or, “I don’t know what we’re gonna do.”
- You quote Margaret Mead, Martin Luther King, Jr. Gandhi, Einstein, or Fred Rogers, when people ask you for the time, directions, or to please pass the butter. Other favorite people to quote include Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, Jim Henson, or any character from Sesame Street.
- When you start singing Phil Ochs songs — your child begs you to stop.
- The laundry pile gets bigger every day and no matter how much laundry you do, the laundry wins. Because sometimes you put it off “for the cause” and the pile gets outta hand. You feel guilty. The family needs clean clothes. This is an ongoing struggle in and of itself. You still like clean clothes, too. Eventually, laundry gets done.
- You remember when you were so happy to be done with preschool payments and were looking forward to your kid going to public school. It seems like a long time ago, but it was only a year.
- You have files on your computer with links you’ve collected and can find them in seconds whenever you need them. High Stakes, Testing, Common Core, Duncan, Broad Academy….
- When you meet a fellow parent who’s familiar with the public ed. system, you can speak in shorthand bullet points: NCLB (No Child Left Behind), RTTT (Race to the Top), Duncan Rhee, Christie, Zero Tolerance, boys, taxes, moved here for the schools. And you both know exactly what you’re talking about. You both shake your heads. You end with, “Can you believe this is happening? And “We fight on.” You hug each other.
- Your home office space has become a crowded pile of papers and piles labeled PRESS, CORRESPONDENCE, EMAILS, REALLY GOOD ARTICLES, etc. Your floor is under there somewhere. Your cat likes the piles and sleeps on them to keep you company while you work.
- You end up at night lying in bed looking at the ceiling and not able to sleep because although you’re exhausted, you’ve had 5 cups of coffee and are wired, you’re worried about your kid’s future education, and your head spins in a million directions. So you can’t sleep.
- You use words like “resistance” and “the movement” and “we have to do this” as you go through your day. You wonder how anyone could have ever protested and organized anything before social media existed. But many have, and often successfully. You think of Rosa Parks every day. This fuels you. You know you can do this and you know you’re on the right side of history. You’re amazed by the power of people spreading the word online, at bus stops, at parties, in passing. Standing up. Sitting down.
- Some people look at you funny when you tell them what’s going on. Students, parents, and teachers thank you for doing what you’re doing. Others shrug, resigned, and say, “That’s how it is everywhere.” You tell them the revolution is in progress. You’re reassuring yourself, as much as them, that you believe you’ll make a difference even if its hard to tell that right now.
- You believe and know this to be true:
“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.”—Albert Einstein
Goodnight, and good dreams,
or good morning,
wherever you are.