To my public educator friends and their allies:
For many years, I have been an active and passionate supporter of a variety of social justice causes. I support public education, and believe that every child should have an opportunity to learn from a skilled and caring faculty. I believe that the public funding of health care should be one of the social obligations of an advanced society such as ours. I think that every child should be a valued child, and should have access to nutritious food, a safe environment, and universal preschool. My e-mail is filled with requests for money, support of causes, and calls to action of all kinds. Usually, I am happy to receive these requests. In my more idle moments, I'm even happy to read through all the responses to calls for action. But, for now, I am putting myself "on the back burner". I am overwhelmed. I can't respond, don't want to tweet (yet), and I just don't have enough psychological space for all of this. I know, I could just delete. These days I feel a little like "I have no mouth and I must scream". Bear with me.
Right now, my days are spent with my daughter who is recovering from a c-section and a sudden failure of her immune system--a chronic and permanently cycling condition. My beautiful little grandson, and his older brother and sister will be leaving Michigan as soon as he is old enough to travel. His mother and father are going through the process (an antiseptic term, if ever there was one) of foreclosure and bankruptcy, the result of a cascade of events: the devaluation of career and tech ed in high schools and continued undermining of full time teaching at community colleges (my son-in-law, a dedicated auto mechanics instructor, has become part of the "working poor"--working two jobs, but not making enough to support his family), unexpected and catastrophic health expenses (and health insurance that failed to cover them), and the economic collapse in Michigan.
Public education has been a huge part of my adult life. I attended a public high school, and three public universities. My children also attended public schools. I hope that my grandchildren will also attend public schools, where they will be part of a rich and diverse group of children, learning to appreciate each other for the valuable contributions that they make to each others' lives. I hope that my grandchildren will make friends based on the "content of their character", not the color of their skins, or the languages that their families speak at home. I hope that my grandchildren will have teachers like all of you, who know that children are placed in your charge to help make the world a kinder and more compassionate place in which to live, where people pitch in to help and share with each other, even when resources may be limited. I hope that my grandchildren learn that voting, and active participation in a representative democracy is a serious, but rewarding responsibility because it ensures that our elected officials will keep all of us in their heads and hearts.
These days I read my e-mail to get basic news or to take care of business. I scroll through Facebook and comment on the best and the worst. I occasionally look at the RSS feeds I used to have time to read. I write from the depths of my heart, on issues about which I can be passionate when I have time, or when I just can't stay silent. And, I edge forward on writing my dissertation, which seems increasingly irrelevant in a world where teacher education holds so little value.
So, keep sending the calls, but leave me out of the responses. I'll respond when I can, and trust that the rest of you will carry the burden when I can't. That's what sharing and cooperation is all about...and I know you know how to share and cooperate.
On the Back Burner--http://backburner-nkk.blogspot.com/