Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Resistance Meets on Weekends

There is a great deal to try to absorb about this weekend's meeting if the Network for Public Education, and my brain is a little stretched as it is.

Some of it will take time, because the Drake Hotel is beautiful, but its hamster-driven wi-fi system and my not-exactly-cutting edge tech are not getting along well at all. In some ways I did better at following last year's conference from home. I am also a little gobsmacked by the number of people who know me. I knew that a number of people read some of what I put up, but I'm not sure how many people really, really read me. It's both amazing and humbling.

I have met so many of my own blogging heroes and I could use another couple of days to track down and talk some more (I still haven't got exchange more than a couple of words with the extraordinary Mercedes Schneider.)

But time is limited, and my exceptionally wonderful wife and will have to jet out of here right after I do my own song and dance later.

Because the resistance meets on weekends.

It is extraordinary and heartening to see and hear and meet all these folks from all across the country and so many different settings. It is also extraordinary that all of these voices for public education have actual jobs. Other jobs.

The reformsters have, collectively, a massive, hugely well-funded full time staff. The guys at the think tanks don't have to do their position papers later in the evening after they grade those third period assignments. The lobbyists for the corporations don't have to squeeze visits to legislators into their lunch hours. Even folks like the bureaucrats at the USED or the people in some state education offices, the people who should be working for public education, aren't-- too many of them are devoting their professional lives to dismantling it.

The reformsters work at it every day. That's what they do, full time, often for pretty good pay (which means they can also do it untroubled by thoughts about how to pay for braces and college loans).

But the teachers and parents and even students who work to preserve and protect America's awesome public education system for the most part already have a full time job. They aren't paid to do this. They aren't paid to blog, organize, speak up, write letters, make phone calls. They all do it in addition to their regular work.

And so the resistance meets on weekends.

Not since a bunch of colonial farmers picked up their squirrel guns to fight one of the biggest professional armies in the world has such a army of unpaid part-timers taken on such a huge group of well-paid professional policy-shapers. (And really, the colonial army wasn't very great).

Of course, the irony here is that while we are amateurs in the field of shaping, twisting, and spinning policy, they are the amateurs in the actual field of education. They may have the tools, the money, the hired manpower, and the paths of power on their side, but we are the one who know the territory.

It is amazing to see 600 people come together on their own time (and their own dime) to stand up for public education. The resistance may need to meet on weekends, but it's strong, and it's ready for a marathon run. The reformsters are tourists, and they'll move on.

The resistance meets on weekends, but it will carry the week.


  1. Wait, they get paid to do that full-time?! And "pretty good" pay?? Can I get that job, too?

    Oh. I have a conscience. Damn...

  2. Being in your workshop today inspired me. Thank you for the education on writing, and as always, you delivered with wit!

    1. Thanks. It was scary and humbling to have a room half-full of people who wanted to hear what I had to say. I am glad it was useful for you.

  3. I don't get it--Randi, Lily, and Diane are full-time, bro.

    1. The national union leadership has not been in this movement on the side of public education for quite some time. They're slowly swinging around, but they're not there yet. As for Diane, if there's some large organization paying her the big bucks to do this work, they are extraordinarily well hidden. We're fortunate to have many retired folks in this, but that was definitely not the vast majority of what I saw gathered in Chicago this weekend.

  4. "Not since a bunch of colonial farmers picked up their squirrel guns to fight one of the biggest professional armies in the world has such a army of unpaid part-timers taken on such a huge group of well-paid professional policy-shapers. (And really, the colonial army wasn't very great)."

    It must be a very exciting conference. (I couldn't get it to stream on my computer, boo! )You're losing that edgy curmudgeonly sourpuss essence.

    However, just in my lifetime have I stopped a very well funded war. I also stopped a nuclear power plant from being built in my state. I had help, of course, (joke there,) but nobody was paid except maybe less than minimum wage for the people who were staff in various nonprofit organizations.

    But, seriously, this country of has seen a lot of such seemingly uphill battles-take the rise of Unions or Suffrage- in the 239 or so years since the embattled farmers stood by the rude bridge that arched the flood.

    S'ok, though. You can do these exercises. Open your window and tell them you're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Open the front door and tell someone to get off your lawn. Repeat. Ahhh! FEEL the grouch!


  5. Given that it was Patriots' Day (AKA Marathon Monday) here in the Cradle of Liberty just last week, the following seems apropos: