Irony is a Girl’s Best Friend, Mitch McConnell

When I teach irony, I tell my students that if they firmly understand irony, they will laugh more.  In the dark moments of their lives, like the time I was broken up with on Valentine’s Day over the phone, if they see irony, they will laugh.

So I am laughing at Robert Reich’s post this week that Senator Mitch McConnell asserts that asking donating corporations to reveal their identity is intimidation.  I have heard this soundtrack lately:  Yesterday, on NPR, they quoted a GOP member who said that no citizen should have to display courage to be politically active, hence donations like Sheldon Adelson’s millions and millions should remain anonymous.

No citizen should need courage?

Revealing identity is intimidation?

How about publishing all the people who signed Governor Walker’s recall in an online searchable database? How about writing articles about which reporters signed the recall, and then asking if such private, civic action was ethical?  (The Appleton-Post link has been removed, but you can see blog reaction to it here.)   How about publishing the UW workers who signed it, perhaps motivated by the millions of dollars cut from their budget, and then making them feel their job is on the line? 

What about asking parents to find out if their children’s teachers signed the recall, and then advocating to ask that their students get pulled from that class?  Does that count as intimidation? 

So signing a recall should take moral courage and be on the record, but donating a few hundred, a few thousands, a few millions– nah, be anonymous. We can’t ask you to step into the public. 

Irony, my dear friends.

Makes me laugh until I cry.

Yep, Talking to the Neighbors

The other night, I sat with some relatives in an aging kitchen as the sun went down over my great-uncle’s farm. We were discussing politics, wondering what the heck happened here in Wisconsin: How could people not see the cause and effect of all that is going on? How could they vote against their own self-interests for Governor Walker? My uncle told me I deserved to take a licking as a teacher if this ignorance is what education provided.  I laughed and agreed.

Attleson Farm: Sunset Walkabout by eliduke

I shared how my son was worried about a neighbor of ours that we like. He knew our neighbor was likely a Walker supporter, and we most definitely were not. I had shared that our friendship surpassed political differences and that we didn’t often talk politics.

My cousin looked at me and said that those times were past. It was time to talk politics, to speak up, to share more.  If we don’t take every moment to talk, we will lose for sure.

And tonight a moment came.

Talking with my neighbor at dusk, he said, “I sure believe teachers should be paid more…”

You know what follows that statement almost every single time? BUT.

Essentially his points came to two: education is failing because the best teachers get let go so teachers with seniority can stay and we can’t just keep pouring money into education.

I felt like I was listening to Fox.

So I talked. I talked about the cronyism that will be rampant in education, and asserted that the teachers who have the most to lose are the ones who stand up to administrators, who question the system, and who advocate best for kids. I gave examples. I spoke from the heart, particularly feeling this year what the lack of a union will do to me.

And then I talked about the monied interests trying to take down public education, whether it be the mega-textbook companies like Pearson or the chartered school movements. I said he was listening to monied interests and the schools he knew, the neighborhood schools built around community trust and ideals, were dying.

And then I had to go.

So, dear cousin of mine, you are right: It is time to talk. To take every available moment to talk. Because we don’t control the airwaves, because we are heavily out-financed, and also because I believe, I have to believe, that “the truth will come to light” (Thank you, Merchants of Venice)!!