September 19, 2013

No One is Untouchable...

"He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue.  That's the Chicago way..." - Jim Malone (The Untouchables, 1987)

Let me preface this week's blog by saying I'm PISSED.  If you take offense easily, then this week you may need to fall back, because I'm going HAM on a host of issues and groups.

Let me start by saying that if you want to challenge my credentials to be in the education game, you're racists.  It is akin to checking Obama's birth certificate and transcripts.  While I may not agree with people (especially this week), I never challenge the notion that you have a right to say what you want to say and that those comments are grounded either in experiential knowledge, research based or otherwise.  Period.  You say your peace, make your points, I get to make mine.

Now the problem is that too many people, not just on social media, but in certain buildings and departments at my grad school (hint: near the SEPTA station, not the Broad St. Line) want people to sing one note.  Repeatedly.  And if you don't sing that note, in their key, you're wrong.  You're disrespecting your race, you're "self hating" or worse.  And on social media, you're "misguided," "a hack" "moron" "not even a teacher..."  Everything but the child of God.  And to make matters worse, only two people in the last week have even ASKED what my particulars are.  Most assume, most use Google.  I'm right here, ask.

On Monday in the town of my last known address, Michelle Rhee, Dr. Steven Perry and George Parker, former DC Teachers Union chief held a Town Hall at my future alma mater.  First, there was a message on a listserv announcing a protest outside, then an e-mail and Facebook post from the college distancing themselves from the event.  I have no problem with either, if it were Fred Phelps (Westboro Baptist "Church") or Ted Nugent coming to campus.  This event, even though not sponsored by, was about education.  I understand not endorsing it, but the distancing was suspect.

Of course the event, a "Town Hall" event went as I would have predicted.  People listened for a few minutes, but otherwise came to the event with their minds already in one corner or the other.  Whatever happen to listening, taking ideas from one person, mixing them with some others, and coming to your OWN conclusions.  The proliferation of forced "Group Think" makes me sick.  Like I said above, and in last week's post, it is asinine to only believe if you don't agree with me, you're against me.

Later in the week, Saint, err I mean Dr. Diane Ravitch graced the same city, speaking at an event promoting her latest book.  You would have thought that God came down to read the 10 Commandments Himself.  As I have said both online and, in person to her when we met, I have profound respect for Dr. Ravitch, her views, her scholarship, and her transformation.  My only problem with "her" is her followers.  Much in the same way that to his flock, Tim Tebow can do no wrong, except not be able to throw the football or get onto the football field in a regular season game, Ravitch followers will swear you up and down the block if you do not feverishly believe that she and she alone can "save public education." Sorry, I don't believe in the hero worship, inflation of messianic individuals we as Americans, so desperate for leadership, perform time and time again on issue after issue.  This is one of our fatal flaws as Progressives, Democrats and as a society in general.

Finally, let me chime in on educational groups on social media.  It seems like every day another "teacher based organization" is popping up online.  And, humorously, just as quickly, I get banned from them... To my 3-4 readers I'm not going to give these groups their shine, but hint, one of them is where family money went to pay their salaries in Chicago. Let me paint these so called organizations with a broad brush.  Progressive organizations such as these, and others, are in serious need of not learning more about the issues or practice of education, but rather are in serious need of an evaluation of their lesson plans concerning their tactics, politics and how policy works.  Too many are content with being on the outside look in, singing that same singular note with protest sign in hand.  As someone who had to file the thousands of postcards sent to a Congressional member's office regarding a particular issue, answered numerous vitriolic phone calls and responded to angry constituents in person during member's breakfasts, I have experience on the other end of what these so called Progressive "groups" (more like a hodge podge of like minded folk) are doing.

Marching in the streets, writing letters, protesting only goes so far.  At some point, you have to decide what you are FOR rather than continue to yelp about what you are AGAINST.  So, with that said, whenever I enter a group or challenge people to do better, why is it that they take offense?  It is because we are not the same gender? Little do they know, for the most part, we are at least in the same generation. Perhaps it is because of race (as much as I despise saying that). No matter.  Like I noted above, people need to be able to have a conversation about division or tactics without being disagreeable - regardless of age, race, creed, nationality, age, educational level, etc...  Let me be explicitly clear, I'm not just talking to well meaning Whole Foods going Progressives, I'm talking to people that look like me as well.

I am sick of being challenged from all angles of the left.
So let me sum this rant up...Less fear, more listening.  Less reaching conclusions based on misinformation, more asking.  Less whining, more winning.  I already have 20 years in the education game and I'm going to be around for a lot longer, I'm not going away...If I can admit I am, or can be an asshole, are you willing to admit at the very least, the same?  Collaboration and cooperation is a two way street.  I'm coming to the table with both hands in plain sight, are other groups and individuals willing to do as well?

Here's to truth, reconciliation and Peace.

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