Assessment Opinion

Peggy Robertson: Which is More Important? Wisconsin or Charlie Sheen?

By Anthony Cody — March 05, 2011 7 min read
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A few weeks ago it was my privilege to share a letter from Peggy Robertson, Are you There Mr. President? Madison is Calling. This letter went viral - it was read by thousands and was widely shared on Facebook and Twitter. The author has now launched a new blog, Peg With Pen, and shares with us her first post there.

by Peggy Robertson

I have watched Madison, Wisconsin, day and night, over the last two weeks. I naively wrote a letter to President Obama hoping that he might hear me. I know words are powerful. Diane Ravitch used hers to keep Waiting for Superman from getting an Oscar. I listen to the voices of the protesters singing and chanting in Madison, Wisconsin via this site, since mainstream media has blocked the majority of all information the American people should be hearing. The words of the protesters in Madison are so filled with passion and power that they bring me to tears on a daily basis. They share powerful messages. And afterwards, I want to spit nails when I find that so few Americans heard their voices. Where are you CNN? NBC? CBS? You are pathetic. Disgraceful. In addition, without cable, where one might hear the true story on MSNBC, the internet is essential to knowing any truths. Every morning I jump up with my coffee and head to the internet and hope...did their voices make a difference? Was the true story shared? Did Obama react? Did Walker finally negotiate? Still, silence. Or untrue stories of greedy and slovenly people destroying the marble floors of the palace.

I wonder about the children living in poverty in America, over 22% of them to be exact - and I wonder - do their parents, if they have any, know what’s going on in Madison?
Many of those families have no internet, cable or even libraries where they might use the internet. This is a fight for survival, and I sit, incredulous, angry, as I watch the world go on around me as though nothing were wrong. If we all really knew what truly was going on, well then, what might happen? If ALL parents really knew that their child might have a teacher with no teaching degree, and an administrator with no teaching experience and a superintendent whose background was in the military, in a class size of sixty, would they care? Would they care if they knew that their child would be tested more and their school might be closed? Would they care if they knew the federal and state governments were quietly taking away services for the children, the poor and the needy? Would they care if they knew that the voices of the American people were being silenced? I believe they would care. I see the nervous beads of sweat pour from the faces of the wealthy as they consider this idea. Yes, dear noblemen, you are most definitely outnumbered; a fact that I relish.

Yet our leaders continue to follow the lead of the wealthy. Obama is in Florida this week schmoozing with Jeb Bush and promoting his ludicrous education agenda. Another disgrace. My heart is with those teachers. I am truly embarrassed by our President. Gates addresses our governors at a conference this past week and they all nod and smile at his uneducated findings.

Call me crazy, but I thought America was the land of the free
. I know it’s the home of the brave. I see them in Wisconsin. I thought Obama was a man of his word. Remember 2007? You said you would stand with the union workers if their collective bargaining rights were attacked? I am shocked that so many of us in the middle class do not see the destruction of the middle class in progress. We must win this fight in Madison, Wisconsin. If we do not, I fear the worst. I still have hope, but I watch the Pied Piper leading so many Americans astray as they listen to mainstream media and join the witch hunt for the bad teachers. I feel the rise of the Lord of the Flies and the devilish depths found in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as I read about the gluttony found in the paychecks of our public workers. I watch the royalty smile silently as they see us turn on one another.

Who are these Americans who spit on those who teach their children, take care of their sick and protect their cities? Who has led you astray? Sadly, I know they are around me.

I listen to the crazy ramblings about teachers and their sky rocketing salaries and their three months off a year. Do you really believe that teachers sit on their laurels for three months each year? First, it is not three months. And second, most teachers are in school, inservice, second jobs or simply preparing for the next year during the summer. As for myself, I believe I had one summer in fifteen years of teaching in which I was home without a second job or in school. And during this time I was caring for my son, rather than placing him in an expensive daycare. And of course, we are indulgent if we get to stay home with our children in this country.

Call me crazy, but I would have expected the media to step up by now. The silence has gone on too long. Who is purring in your ear and stroking your ego? Have you been promised the Queen’s child in return for your silence? The gold is overflowing for the wealthy and the public workers are asking if they can keep their voice. They will not be silenced.

And goodness, dear mainstream media, you have a wealth of stories at hand. Who has caused you to stay in your seat when you must want to jump up and tell these delicious tales of good and evil? There is the story of the congressmen who pushed their desks out the windows of the palace, in order to meet with their constituents, simply in a desire to hear the voices of the American people who were barred from entering the palace gates. Did you hear the story of the Republicans walking in the dark, damp tunnels underground, as they flee the palace with their tails between their legs, while the people are heard drumming and chanting into the night? Did you miss the story about the King? It is especially full of intrigue and deceit. He fled the palace on a horse paid for by the wealthy noblemen, and he now travels the country trying to enforce his law. What about the lovely story of the patrons at the restaurant who booed King Walker out the door? That one may be my favorite as I flip through the pages of the story book. I think I like it because it has a happy ending. I’m like a child who says, read that part again. I want to hear good prevail as the King rushes out the door as the chanting and booing grows louder, ending with the final sound of the King’s horse galloping away to a distant land to live alone in misery. There are so many more tales. Stories of a congressman tackled by guards as he attempts to enter the palace. The tale of how the palace was fortified with fences, cement barricades and bolted windows, while the common man slept on the palace steps in the cold of the night. The tale of the King being met by a man in disguise who tricks the King into revealing his deepest and darkest secrets. And, there are the thousands of stories of beautiful people singing This Land Is Our Land as they sit on a hard marble floor, representing the American people and our dreams. Their stories are the stories that I want to hear.

Call me crazy, but I would have thought you had enough smarts about you to realize that the story of Madison, Wisconsin beats Charlie Sheen any day. Which noblemen are lining your pockets in return for your silence?

Here I sit, watching the clock tick, waiting ever so patiently, for the American people to realize they’ve been had. And, sadly, a new character has appeared in my book. The green monster. So many have fallen under his spell as he spreads lies about the greed of the public workers. Fellow neighbors throw stones. They kick the workers while they are down. And the king smiles on his people. The workers, stand up, brush themselves off, and sing again. The workers grow in numbers. The king is nervous. My story book has no ending yet. Mainstream media, if you would tell them the truth, amazing things would happen.

I am waiting, ever so patiently, for the true story to be on the six o’clock news. Everywhere. With honesty. Integrity. And with heart. I am waiting for a happy ending. The American Dream stays strong in the hearts of the protesters chanting across our country, like a tree that falls in the forest with no one around. How much louder the chanting would be, if only everyone knew the tree was ever so close to home.

Peggy Robertson taught kindergarten, first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth grade, beginning her career in Missouri and continuing in Kansas, for a total of ten years. She was hired by Richard C. Owen Publishers in 2001 to serve as a Learning Network Coordinator and spent the next three years training teacher leaders and administrators in educational theory and practice in the state of Colorado, as well as around the country during the summer months. In 2004 she was hired as the Literacy Coordinator by the Adams 50 School District in Westminster, Colorado. While working in Adams 50 she mentored teachers and administrators and supported them in the writing and implementation of school development plans. Her new blog is Peg with Pen.

Photograph by Rochelle Gordon, used with permission.

What do you think? Has the media missed the story? Can we break through the silence?

The opinions expressed in Living in Dialogue are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.