In her recent blog, Diane writes about an old pick-up truck at the gas station with a bunch of bumper stickers. She has something to say about the grizzled old man driving the truck, his house, his yard, his bumper stickers, and his choice of political candidates. Then, she asks what we think about it.
This is what one Momma Bear from Tennessee thinks…
Until you advocate for children, you never truly realize how many people put aside their personal beliefs and politics to join together on issues affecting children. It doesn't take long to realize that when we join together to fight for our children, it is a powerful thing. We have stopped voucher legislation for years in Tennessee because Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, and Liberals have all joined efforts to protect public education. TEA Party Conservatives and Left-Wing Liberals have all stood shoulder to shoulder against Common Core and its abusive testing regime. We are still fighting that fight and we expect to win it.
Remember what you told us, Diane?
You said: "We are many, they are few. …Let us strive for excellence and insist on equity….We shall persist and we shall prevail."
You taught us that if we stood together against rich, powerful people then we could beat them and save our schools.
We know that causes resentment. Some resent paying for it, other resent having to live on it. And maybe, there are even a few of us who resent the opinions of those in poverty. We dismiss them as ignorant or mislead when they do not agree with us. We'll be the first to admit that it hurts and frustrates us as Momma Bears to devote so much of our time to fighting for public education only to be pitted against other moms who think we are somehow against them. They fight us thinking that we are trying to take away their rights for school choice when we oppose vouchers and other privatization efforts.
But in this country, everyone gets a vote regardless of their socio-economic level or education. No matter where we live or what we drive, we all get an opportunity to vote. And everyone’s vote counts the same whether they are rich, poor, or somewhere in the middle. It doesn’t matter if you graduated from a public school, private prep school, or dropped out of school because we all have the same right to vote. And we not only have the ability to vote for our choice of candidate but we can let the world know who we support through our political speech be it on a bumper sticker or a blog.
Sadly, somewhere along the way, our political free speech stopped being about convincing others to see our point of view and became more of an moniker announcing which side we are on. Some Tennesseans voted for Hillary, most voted for Trump. But the overwhelming majority didn’t vote at all. And therein, lies the problem. We have created a political system where the majority of people either don’t like their voting choices or think their vote doesn't matter. Can you blame us? We live in one of the poorest states in the country, yet we have the richest governor. We see the inequity of power and wealth in our everyday lives. We know the absolute rage of being powerless to stop very wealthy people from hurting our children and pitting mother against mother.
As Momma Bears, we should direct our rage to those in power, not those who voted them into office. We know that the very best ways to express your political views are to run for office, donate your time & money to those candidates who share your beliefs, and above all else—BE AN INFORMED VOTER!!!
It is for our children’s sake that we do not fall into the trap of playing team politics where we divide all our friends, acquaintances, and peers into teams of people who are either “with us or against us.” We can not allow ourselves to slug it out on social media— getting points for insults, and likes for rudeness. We can not play this game where no one wins. A game where most people sit on the sidelines. Some watching for entertainment sake, and others not paying attention at all.
We must continue to unify and educate, not only for the sake of our children but also as an example to them. We need to teach the next generation that sometimes, we must put aside our personal opinions to work together for all the things we need to make our schools great so that every child has access to high quality public education in their neighborhood:
- Less emphasis on standardized testing
- More opportunities for enrichment
- Smaller class sizes
- Curriculum driven by teachers
- Protections for student data
- Public accountability for education funds