Two things to remember about Betsy DeVos, our new, woefully unprepared Secretary of Education:
1. Our fight to oppose her conformation was a total Hail Mary. These nominees, historically, almost universally make it to through the process. At the end of the day… while our cause was noble…. this was tourist activism. It was volunteering in a third world country for a month and as you leave wondering why there are still slums. The work to oppose people like her is a years and years-long grind of getting to know elected officials, their staffs, and — right — doing the hustle work to get the best people elected in the first place.
2. Let’s also not forget that on some level this was an ideological fight. Will DeVos directly harm our public school teachers and students? Without a doubt. But if at the end of the day what we really care about is looking after the kids…. let’s go look after the kids. I applaud everyone who fought DeVos, but if our true goal is quality public education then we should be marching ourselves to the nearest lower income public school to our homes and offering our hearts, time, and resources. Some senator didn’t need you leaving him voice mails nearly a much as a little boy or girl in your town needs a tutor or a mentor.
We are talking marathons here. Opposing a cabinet nominee was a moon shot work around. The real ish is a joyous, nurturing grind over the weeks, months, years, and decades in the lives of the children right here where we live.
As the pain comes from the federal level, we need to be doing all we can locally to help our public schools. Want to find out what your neighborhood public school needs? Give them a call! Here are some suggestions for what to ask them, from my friend Sheena Jeffers:
1) Does your school have a wish list of needs or wants? (They may need markers, crayons, scissors, etc)
2) Does your school need volunteers, tutors, readers, mentors?
3) Here are my skills, how may I be of service to your school and whom may I speak with further about this?
4) Are there any partnerships in the community you’re in need of? (Ex: a speaker for career day)
Here in Norfolk, I also encourage you to support the Norfolk Education Foundation, which “raises and manages funds to support the school district’s relentless pursuit of student achievement.” Learn more about what they do here.
Feel super motivated to make a difference this morning?
Donate to them now:
Also consider paying more attention to the Norfolk School Board, which makes numerous decisions that directly impact the 33,000 students in Norfolk public schools. This will help you find their next meeting times, but also please feel empowered to reach out to school board members directly, and ask them how you can be of service. Here is how to reach them.
And by the way, to everyone who works in public schools, thank you. *You* all are my heroes. There isn’t a harder or more important job I have ever come across. Nobody does more to break the cycle of poverty. Nobody does more to equip us as self-supporting citizens and knowledgeable voters. Nobody does more to make this a country that I love. Thank you for giving your life to our children. I hope more of us — starting with myself — can figure out how to do more to support you. Of all issues and hardships facing our country, when they come after our public schools that’s when we put our social media down and get to damn work. (Yes, I’m furious, and no I’m personally not going to take this lying down.)
Make no mistake, this is the face of class warfare.
If you don’t support good public schools then all the rest of the “pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps” rhetoric is proven to be nothing but thinly veiled hatred towards the poor….. and everyone not born into a family with the means to send their kids to private schools, tutors, or the better public schools.
This is an act of war against working class and poor America. This is all of the class warfare cards plain on the table. This is m a d n e s s.
For any of you who were not already engulfed by a righteous flame, this is your moment to break free. By picking someone to lead public education who has no experience in public education they are going after the brains of the middle and working class. It isn’t some exaggerated bullshit: they want us stupid so they can more easily hoard power and resources for themselves.
I’ll leave you with this sad fact: One-Third Don’t Know Obamacare and Affordable Care Act Are the Same(!!!!!!) People voted against their own bodily self-interest because they couldn’t read well enough. This is why they want to gut public education: because with so many people essentially illiterate, it makes it extremely easy to manipulate the masses using lies and fear mongering.
Public education is hope. Public education is light. Public education is the fight for equality in the most tactile, real, and meaningful way. Our public education system is who we are, and its strength should be the measure by which we judge our community’s soul.