I'm not writing about Betsy Devos, our 45th President's pick for Secretary of Education. I can't do it. You are sick of political talk, and I'm sick of thinking about it. I can't take someone telling me that "teachers only care about money and protecting their union," again. I can't take the disappointment that although I have high standards for myself and my students, our government doesn't have those same standards for those holding high offices. I can't do it. I won't.
Instead, I will tell you a story; a true story. There once was a teacher who worked at school. She worked for years and years and years and years. She never made a big stack of cash because the school wasn't a public school. She liked it there, though, and LOVED her students. Her students were bright, eager bundles of energy and she loved spending her days with them. She worked hard to teach them how to work hard.
She was a state licensed teacher -- had her teaching credential, and worked to learn more and more about teaching. Her school, not being a public school, didn't offer much in the way of training so she wore out the education aisle at Barnes and Nobel -- read everything she could. She wanted to take classes, but they were expensive, and her budget tight because her not-public-school didn't pay much.
And then after long years in the same school, they let her go; let nearly everyone go. They wanted change — to start fresh. They said, "You can apply for your job. You can apply for your jobs, but there is no guarantee." Most of her co-workers didn't apply. They could see the writing on the wall, but she applied, and was interviewed. She wanted to call their bluff. The interview was for a teaching position. It was between her and another teacher who had two years experience. They both had the exact same type of credential. "Look, I know you are qualified, but honestly, it looks like at some point your husband's job might force you to move, so for us, it would be better to invest in a teacher who won't possibly move someday."
So she packed up her boxes and left. In the parking lot of the school a parent said to her, "It is so sad to see you go. If only you had your state credential."
"I do." She responded, perplexed, but it turned out the school had sent out a letter explaining the mass departure of the previous staff by a simple explanation: they were not certified. It was a lie that is probably held by more than one family as truth to this day. But this teacher, had no union to back her or defend her, so she took her boxes and went home.
It is easy to put a label on someone -- to see them only through your lens -- greedy teachers; lazy teachers; unqualified teachers. It takes more effort to consider ideas from multiple angles to wonder the impact. You could assume that teachers are against school choice because it will change things for them and force them to adapt. But maybe you never thought about the impact of choice. Schools accept vouchers for tuition but what about fees? Could they be added on and again force the poorest families to have the fewest options, so that quality education becomes not a right, but a privilege for the wealthy?
I try not to make assumptions about those who think differently than I do. I do not assume that if you voted for 45 that I know all that much about you. I've been accused of making blanket assumptions, but my objects to our current president are my objections. I'm allowed to have them. Your reasons for supporting him, are your reasons -- I don't presume anything about that.
I am not a snowflake, or a crybaby who "lost". My name is Jen. I am a wife, a mother, a school teacher, and a person of faith. I'm a human just like you, and America belongs to me, too. I care about her, and have opinions about how she should be run. Just like you, I stand firmly on the foundation of those who came before who questioned, worried, marched, and voted.
We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.