I’m back from spending quality time with my granddaughter Sarah (who did all the driving) and meeting a bunch of wonderful present and future educators at the University of Pennsylvania’s annual Association of African-American Students conference—this time devoted to education.
It leaves me with two conflicting feelings. The children/youth need us in our schools and classrooms more than ever. We are in a perilous time, and they need a place and a space to safely investigate the world and to care for each other. And, teachers need to use every means they can find to do what they know is right.
But on the other hand, it’s time to act—to get mad—to stop acting normally in the face of the threat even to a hypocritical dedication to democracy. Rachel Maddow’s show on what’s happening in Michigan is a must-watch for one and all. Have you seen it yet, Diane? It’s where we’re heading, unless ...
And Pedro Noguera and Michelle Fine’s joint article in the latest Nation is another must.
And on and on.
We are seeing an unraveling of too many cherished freedoms and safety nets, built with the sweat and blood of our ancestors. It seems like hysteria to say this as I gaze out the window to the late-arriving spring in Hillsdale. The daffodils are out, the forsythia is almost ready to reach its glory, and the grass is green now that the dead branches and leaves have been removed. But this week I go to Indiana—where you and I will meet, Diane—to hear you speak and to have lunch together. And then I fly to Michigan for my grandson’s graduation and a mini-family reunion. To the very state that is leading the way toward a model of dictatorship that should stun us all. It is, their governor claims, either this or chaos, ruin, etc. Either he has the right to replace—at will—locally elected officials with his own “emergency managers” or ... That’s where the crisis talk on the Right has gotten us: to see democracy as a luxury when faced with the economic chaos they have created. What next?
We need to enlarge our alliances and figure out a few key places to make clear we’re not giving in. Easily or otherwise. For educators, we’ve chosen May 28-30 in Washington, D.C.. Plus every locality possible before hand. But this is not just about schooling. While we figure out how to tackle the “Big Picture,"* we also need to reach out to our colleagues in our schools with their everyday need to be staunch and steady and strong for the children they face each day and to remember their families as well. The damage they face in terms of the future prospects facing the youngsters must be touch.
I can’t say more right now. When you read this I’ll be on my way from Indiana, or maybe watching Ezra graduate. I’ll be standing, applauding with tears in my eyes of pride and fear for the future of all those young people in their caps and gowns.
* This is an inside joke. Apologies to Big Picture, a school “chain” I truly admire for giving us a glimpse into what could be.—Deb
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