Archive for July, 2012

ESCAPE FROM FLATNESS

Posted: July 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

Today I experienced what might be defined as the highlight of my twenty year professional education career.  I met Maxine Greene; writer, philosopher and education activist extraordinaire.  She is as brilliant, warm, and engaging as anyone might imagine.  I was ushered into this personal introduction by Nick Sousanis; artist and scholar-an equally brilliant, warm and engaging individual.  By the end of a day of sharing our individual and collective visions for the future of education, I arrived at my inspiration for this week’s blog.  My title, Escape from Flatness, emerged from looking at some of Nick’s artistic work; using comic book art to create an alternative form of discourse around education issues (among other things).  Principally, Nick recognizes that art, as a form of visual communication, can articulate theories, ideas, and concepts via synchronous forms of narrative engagement.  Some of his illustrations deal with the theme of “flatness.”

You can see more of the work of Nick Sousanis at his website http://www.spinweaveandcut.blogspot.com/

After exploring some of his work I knew immediately that in my mind educational reformers represent “flat-ners.”  They flatten children, teachers, and parents. Really, they flatten everyone who is not a member of the 1%.  His images reveal so much that sometimes words cannot convey, and yet we “feel” it, we “know” it;  we identify with these images- our gut sickened by their truth.

Reformers, as flat-ners, reduce us all to one dimensional pre-constructed objects to be observed, measured, used, and consumed by others.  To Eli Broad, Bill Gates, Walton, ALEC, and billionaire politicians and hedge fund managers, we are merely stock cut out figures, to be manipulated at their will, and for their purpose.

Today, while we were talking, Maxine Greene posed the question whether or not there exist any spaces where teachers can have a public discussion around the public narrative on education.  Ironically, teachers are immersed in public discourse as the subject of discussion.  At the same time, they are silenced from speaking publicly themselves.  It occurred to me that teachers are squarely in the center of public space, as a public narrative constructed by OTHERS. As such, the public narrative, owned by corporate powers, treats educators as the subject or worse object of public discourse.

In other words, drawing on Nick’s work, teachers have in essence been “flattened.” High stakes testing, among other facets of education (de) reform, treat humans as units of measurement-cogs in the wheel of social engineering.   As Nick illustrates (literally), in a land of flatness, human beings:

“… pass through an elaborate sequence of discrete steps … A recipe of add this: mold that …. Every procedure done to them to ensure the proper results are received.”

Greene echoes this concern, stating that, “academic rigor, high standards, common learning, technical proficiency …” are things being promoted by what I call, “the gods of reform.” She adds that “they want things to be stable and predictable; they want the schools to repair cultural deficiencies; they want their own interests secured” (p. 169).  Furthermore, “given such preoccupations (with technological and military primacy), it follows that certain children are conceived of as human resources rather than persons” (p. 32).

Educators and children have become two dimensional figures subject to constant scrutiny and judgment-cut out paper dolls-an object belonging to others-neither the conversation about education, not decisions making about education itself belong to educators.  There are few public spaces where educators  act as the creators of that public narrative.  What we need, are new, different, or alternative public spaces created BY teachers– spaces where teachers themselves can subvert the dominant narrative owned by OTHERS–and replace this oppressive two dimensional discourse with one that speaks the truth.  How do we do this?  We must pull from our host of individual and collective creative resources.

Why CREATIVE resources?  Because we might imagine our way out of this nightmare, to “imagine things as if they might be otherwise” (Greene, 1995, p. 22).

Any dream therapist can tell you that if you are experiencing a nightmare there are few ways to wake yourself up.

First, you know that horrible moment when you’re dreaming and you open your mouth to scream and nothing comes out?  You tell yourself that you can scream. You make a conscious effort to make noise. It’s a focused and deliberate decision. And then it happens—you CAN scream.  Second, you can enter a state of “lucid” dreaming where you realize that you are in fact in a dreaming state and do something to wake yourself up.  So when you are trapped in a night mare, you tell your unconscious brain to pinch yourself.  And you do.  And you can end the night mare.

We are living an educational night mare.  And we cannot rely on anyone else to wake us up. Either they don’t know the night mare’s happening or they don’t care. We have to scream. We have to believe that if we open our mouths, sound will come out.  Make noise!

And we have to pinch ourselves , because we have to remember  how to FEEL, how to fight the urge to succumb to numbness.  Resistance must come through our active embodied participation.  It must engage our senses.  We must fight attempts by others to “flat-land” us.  We must retain our three- dimensionality, using our senses, to exist in a state of what Maxine Greene calls “wide-awakeness.”  Creative action brings our senses alive. It demands our embodied participation.

So we must sing, dance, draw, paint, bang pots, write poetry, make posters, paint graffiti, tell stories, plank, flash-mob, perform…anything.

Anything to GET….THEIR….ATTENTION.

Who is the “they” whose attention do I actually mean by “theirs?”  Arne Duncan?  Nope.  I am so over him.  Nothing new going happen there.

Bill Gates? Sure with his billions of dollars he can make the proverbial earth spin on its axis. But I don’t believe for a moment that anything I have to say matters a lick to him. He’s on his own trajectory and I doubt that what children really need and what teachers really think are, or will ever, alter the course he has planned.

The “they” I am talking about is “us”– our friends: fellow parents, fellow teachers, community members. The dominant corporate narrative has spread like a plague taking over all discussion around education, social justice and our democratic experiment, replacing truth with a false flat land.  We need to wake each other up.  In the nightmare in which we are constructed as flat land figures, we remain trapped on the conveyer belt, in which our collective reality is drawn by others.

Nick’s notion of “flatness” of the human experience, and rendered artistically through his work is reminiscent of Edward Abbott’s Flatland (1884),  a novel about shapes, dimensionality, and social hierarchy.   “Flatland is  a society rigidly divided into classes. Social ascent is the main aspiration of its inhabitants, apparently granted to everyone but in reality strictly controlled by the few that are already positioned at the top of the hierarchy.  Freedom is despised and the laws are cruel.  Members of lower classes who are intellectually valuable, and potential leaders of riots, are either killed or corrupted by being promoted to the upper classes. The organization and government of Flatland is so self-satisfied and perfect that every attempt or change is considered dangerous and harmful. This world, as ours, is not prepared to receive revelations from another world.”

Sound familiar?????

We must take the narrative about ourselves back on our streets, in our schools, on playgrounds …everywhere.  What “they” (meaning each other) thinks matters more because they are trapped in this night mare too. Working in solidarity together with the people we surround ourselves with every day, working together en mass, in various modes and means, we can break free of flat land.  But the imagination is the way out.  And we must use our imagination, our creative efforts, to draw real attention to issues of education policy.

Maxine Greene (1995) writes:

“The role of the imagination is not to resolve, not to point the way, not to improve.  It is to awaken, to disclose the ordinarily unseen, unheard, and unexpected” (p. 28)

In this age of constant information and busy lives, it’s difficult to get teachers and parents to read large amounts of research, or to understand the importance of boycotts, resolutions or petitions. The information we wish to share regarding the ill purpose and effects of corporate ownership of education must be expressed using all of the senses, in our bodied actions—instantaneously and with the emotion it warrants. As Nick Sousanis considers, we have to remember that conception (i.e as what we believe, what we think of as “real”) largely comes through our perception (i.e what we see with our eyes and how we construct meaning).

Greene writes that through the “art of knowing”–“The experience and knowledge gained  by this way of knowing opens new modalities for us in the lived world; it brings us in touch with our primordial landscapes, our original acts of perceiving” (p. 149).

We need to redesign the social landscape with new images, new stories, new ways of understanding what corporate reform “is” and how it works.  What we need is action—creative action collectively inspired in local communities and through national organizing-to UNFLATTEN our worlds.

Maxine Greene writes:

“As we ponder educational purposes, we might take into account the possibility that the main point of education … is to enable a human being to become increasingly mindful with regard to his or her lived situation-and its untapped possibilities. The languages and symbol systems we make available ought to provide possibilities for thematizing very diverse human experiences and, not incidentally, for diverse introductions to the conversations among people that carries the culture on in time” (p. 182).

The Truth Behind the Project School….

The Battle for The Project School in Indiana, by Doug Martin

(note: Links in this post are not not embedded right now because my blog site keeps erasing my post every time I try to make a link. Hmmmm…weird, huh?) Can’t upload pics either….

The thing about fires (and I don’t mean the ones in a fireplace or Bar-B-Q pit), is that no one is ever quite sure exactly which spark it was that started the blaze. But once it’s started, it s a powerful force of nature that is difficult to stop.  Those of us working in the resistance– against corporate reform of public education, and those of us who are fighting for social justice, equity, and democracy in public spaces we call schools—we know that every spark counts.  Every spark matters.  A look back any previous movement, from the resistance against Fascism in early 20th century, and up through the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s, indicates that while movements are “big” they are comprised of individual sparks.  Everything we do, even the small localized battles, add up.  The power of one = the power of many.  I know…it sounds like a cheesy bumper sticker, but it’s true.

From the refusal to sell out to Pearson, like the power of one Barbara Madeloni  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/07/education/new-procedure-for-teaching-license-draws-protest.html?pagewanted=all , to the parents in 61 districts NYC http://www.parentvoicesny.org/?page_id=11   who opted their children out of the NYC Pearson field tests in June, to the battle of Texas school superintendents fighting high stakes testing http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/education/article/S-A-school-districts-to-join-statewide-backlash-3407798.php , to the to the one lone parent in public school in anywhere USA (and the numbers are growing),  …and movements across the globe in Australia http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/principals-warned-off-test-boycott-20120514-1yn57.html  or Treehorn Express  http://treehornexpress.wordpress.com/ ….  it all matters.

Sometimes we feel like all hope is lost.  If, as they say “normal” is nothing more than a dial on a washing machine, the I suggest that “futility” is nothing more than an emotion reformers are trying to subscribe upon us.  It’s a dial that someone else is trying to turn.  We do not have to succumb.  Even if we fear we might lose the battle, we will not do so quietly.  We must make corporate greed and political corruption, the selling out of children at stock options, publicly known and transparent transgressions.  We will not keep their secrets.  We will publicize them widely.

And even though tonight  I sit at my computer, wondering why I am not out picketing some federal building or chaining myself to the main office of Pearson Inc, I can do something.   I can fan the sparks that have been started by others.  It’s a small gesture in some ways.  But…every spark matters, if we don’t let them die out.  Disruption of the oppressive take-over of our schools, of our children, of our human rights (not to mention Constitutional rights if you live in the United States) will not happen from the top down.  It will happen from the ground up by creating cracks, fissures, and ruptures in some rhizomatic fashion, spreading like a brush fire.

Which one of these local and seemingly small efforts will turn into the flame?  Who knows?  I have hope in all of them.   So my blog tonight highlights the story of fellow fighters-this time in Indiana where teachers, parents, and community members are fighting for the survival of The Project School.  This is an excellent account written by Doug Martin, of the events.  These are events that can happen to any one of us.  This could be my school.  Your school.  So we fight for, and with, each other.

My job tonight is to fan that frigging flame.  See original post in Common Errant. Pass it on.

http://btownerrant.com/2012/07/21/the-truth-behind-the-project-school-closing-the-indiana-corporate-school-complex/

“I can easily picture the worst, because the worst can easily happen.”

EUGENE IONESCO, Rhinoceros

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 BEWARE OF THE RHINOCEROS-THEY ARE EVERYWHERE

I can also easily imagine hopeful change, because I still posses my imaginative capacities.  Without them we are dead in the water.

In the words of Chris Hedges, “Artists, writers, poets, activists, journalists, philosophers, dancers, musicians, actors, directors and renegades must be tolerated if a culture is to be pulled back from disaster.”

I first came across the term creative solidarity as it was described by scholar, educator and activist Ruben Gatzambide-Fernandez a couple of years ago. More recently out of curiosity I Googled the term and stumbled across a myriad of other ways in which it used from everything to market jewelry to serving as the title for a artists cooperative in the UK.  A lot of people like it use this term for many reasons-a phrase to define or redefine their art work, concepts of solidarity in community efforts, and as a framework for organizing group efforts in innovative ways.

And the way in which I will use it here is will be defined by my own individual understanding as well, however I do draw specifically from Gatzambide-Fernandez in particular as it was his description that motivated me to think more deeply about what the term (the two words combined) have the potential to mean in out current fight against ed reform.

He writes:

“What do I mean by creative solidarity? I mean a solidarity that underscores a way of being with each other that contingently presents itself against a sense of normalcy and coherence.  I mean a solidarity that operates under the assumption that we are incomplete, in the process of becoming, a future anterior ….not a solidarity that assumes commonness and sameness, but one that assumes difference; not a solidarity that builds boundaries to protect resources but one that enters an interstitial space between boundaries, that creates a third space; not a solidarity that stands on the notion that a core identity will be detained or will be retained …Houmi Babba (1997) notes that it is in the “in between” space where we can develop new “strategies of selfhood …that initiate new signs of identity and innovative sites of collaboration, and contestation, in the act of defining the idea of society itself (pp.1-2).

I make no claim to have a mirror image reflection of Gatzambide-Fernandez’s own ideas here- he goes much farther into depth with theory than I have room for in this blog. Rather, I draw from  his ideas as a springboard for possible further considerations in my own understanding of what these words can mean for us fighting education (de)form.  For me, drawing from his words, it is this notion of creative solidarity that I hope can inspire and shape our efforts to fight the corporate take- over of public education.

Because in this sense, solidarity is not synonymous with “unity.” It does not require that we all act in unison to work together, and that in fact our differences, when brought together in emergent and creative ways, can become our strength.

Solidarity is not defined by nor defines who we are, but builds upon what we do.

For example, being in creative solidarity does not demand that all teachers take some same action because they are teachers as a unified identity. What we do, for those of us fighting ed reform, is hold a shared vision for public education, driven by our shared four goals: to end high stakes testing, challenge the common core standards as a forced, top-down, and oppressive mandate, eliminate Value Added Measure for teacher evaluation, and stop corporate (profit) driven privatization measures that use “school choice” to sell out public education and our children as blue chip stock options.

Forms of creative solidarity are less a call to teachers  telling them: “You must do this…” by virtue of your identity as a teacher, as much as it is a journey that each of us takes, compelled by our individual purposes or experiences, and that we find each other along the way and join forces through creative means. Solidarity, not in our common identity, but in our shared fight for a common good, one that exceeds the “benefits” any single one of us might receive, and yet which we might attain at various personal losses, is our course of action. We stand together as we move forward. Solidarity becomes a verb instead of a descriptive noun.

Why is creative solidarity needed?  The word  “creative” stands for two necessary items, the first of which I already mentioned briefly.  It suggests that ways in which we “come together” and work together occur through creative design.  We must find cracks, fissures, little and big ways in to, and around, power structures— that can only happen through our imaginative capacities. Drawing on Alfred North Whitehead’s complexity theory for understanding the universe, Gatzambide-Fernandez suggests that solidarity conceived as a creative act, is equally “chaotic” in that it cannot be manifest in some preceding design-it will emerge of its own accord, with no template, no plan, no unifying body to direct its course.  I stand in solidarity today with many people who are quite different than myself in any number of ways: gender, race, cultural or geographic background, religion, and age (to name a few).

The second way in which creativity is needed for solidarity is that we must be creative in how we approach our acts of civil disobedience, our acts of dissent, and empower ourselves and others to change the system, because the system right now really sucks. And our (shared) creative capacities might offer new visions and actions for fighting back.  So many days I think, and I hear others saying, “I just don’t know what to do anymore. How do you fight this? It’s too big. I’m out of ideas.”  We have to begin drawing from a new well of ideas and resources which provoke artful and imaginative possibilities. Without the imagination as Chris Hedges writes, we are dead in the water. It is our most powerful weapon. Let’s face it. When you see those ads on TV asking you to donate money to some fund to save starving children in where ever…what “gets” to you isn’t the words, or the facts-it’s the images. Or using  the song “In the Arms of an Angel” by Sarah McClaughlin to advocate for homeless animals. The emotional connectedness between us as human beings attracts compassion, attention, and compels others toward a better understanding of what we are fighting for.

Kevin Zeese of the Occupy movement echoes this idea of creative solidarity. He says:

“Mass movements have to be diverse … creativity of tactics is critical to our success. With diversity you bring to the movement different histories, different ideas, different identities, different experiences and different forms of nonviolent tactics.”

The poet Charles Bukowski wrote a poem called Style in which he writes “To do a dangerous thing with style is what I call art.”

It’s clear enough by now that what we are calling for (demanding), and our actions, are both deemed “dangerous.” We’ve all had moments where others have told us to remain “silent or else…” had our jobs threatened, felt negative backlash for opting our kids out of HST, or for writing something that “might get us in trouble.” You have to seriously wonder if we are still living in a democratic society when speaking the truth, grounded in facts and proof, makes YOU appear crazy. It makes you wonder about the sanity of those who are fearful of you and perceive you as a threat. It makes you wonder how much Kool Aid is actually being poured into the citywide water systems.

But its’ time to get dangerous with some style. It’s time to get more creative in our efforts.

Through our creative collaborative efforts we again embrace a new sense of solidarity with one another. My goal in this fight is not to convince others to think like me. I am not here selling anything or to insist that others “join” in beliefs or actions. But I it is my purpose to reach out and join hands, paint brushes, or bull horns, with anyone who has a shared purpose.  We must start thinking creatively about how to change the dominant narrative that continues to wash over so many teachers and parents. Policy makers are a lost cause. DNR. Images, music, performances all have the power to affect our emotions which drive our beliefs oft times more than facts. When numbers and facts don’t work, a work of art or song can cause us to pause and think.  While art in and of itself doesn’t change a damn thing, how we work together creatively, and to what end, can.  The Situationists, guerrilla artists, DIY artists, and the work of Augusto Boal have been practicing art that criticizes the status quo society for decades.  I suggest that those of us fighting education reform follow suit.  We are not looking for “a few good artists.” We need communities (broadly defined) who wish to use creative arts-based measures as a central weapon in our arsenal to make change possible.

When I started the Dolls in the Box project  almost a year ago to date, one of the central aspects of that project was working together with teachers and students. While I could have made 100 dolls myself and staged the art installation in the front of the DOE as a lone artist, it would have been different in process and outcome. I didn’t want this to be “my” art project.  I wanted an arts-based process that would bring others together. So for two days, at the Free Minds Free People Conference in RI, I sat on the floor surrounded by fabric, markers, glue guns scissors, and scores of other teachers and students from all over the country, making dolls together. And as we sat, and cut and glued, we talked. They shared stories of school closings, and horrific stories of ed “reform” from their classrooms and communities. There’s something about the working together-in creative solidarity-in the process of working with our senses, with our emotions, with what we can see, hear, and touch that gave these teachers the opportunity to use their voices in a very different way. The Dolls in the Box installation did little to change the mind of the current education administration. I didn’t really expect it would. But I believe that it had an effect on the teachers and students who participated. Maybe they moved a little closer to feeling empowered. Maybe they moved a little closer to feeling hopeful.  The project on a larger community-developed and driven scale did not get the traction I had hoped for- what I held were visions of communities of parents, teachers, and/or students, making their own dolls in boxes and placing them by the hundreds in front of schools, libraries, or in front of classrooms (as a non verbal commitment to dissent).  Just imagine what a conversation starter THAT would be during test week or Back to School night!

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But there are so many other projects, actions, and works waiting to be created.

We must engage with each other more artistically to permeate the thick blanket of the ed reform narrative that holds public sway. We need more music like the Notorious PhD aka Mark Naison, and Barry Lane and image-makers like Susan Dufresne and Jay Rivett (I know I am leaving out many others who have earned recognition but I’m running out of word space!).  Our creative work must get “out there” to Main Street USE. Together, we can creatively change the narrative-developing an emerging solidarity as we go-and provoke action.

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(WHAT HIGH STAKES TESTING DOES TO OUR CHILDREN’S EDUCATION DOLLARS)

HELP WANTED:

Seriously…Help Wanted…..We really need help!!!!!

Seeking: A billionaire who will invest a few million dollars to fund a people’s ANTI ed reform movement

Qualifications: Must have a few million dollars to donate and be averse to drinking Kool Aid.

Must actually WANT to help children, not their Wall Street buddies

(Bill Gates need not apply. We’ve seen your resume.)

Purpose: It seems that all that is needed to get a seat at the table of education policy is billions of dollars.  You can be a self-serving lobotomized drone and still become a larger stakeholder in education than those whose lives are most greatly affected!

Why we need your money:

Money apparently pays for mass advertising to brainwash public opinion.

Money apparently pays to buy out large organizations and institutions such as, but not limited to:

-mainstream media, -universities, -k-12 school districts,- research institutes, -professional development service providers, and -non profits that pretend to serve children.

Money can manufacture the illusion of “knowledge and professional experience” where in reality none exists.

Money can buy out state legislators formerly known as public servants.

We don’t want a seat at the frigging Billionaire’s Boys Club’s table any more. Quite honestly there’s nothing at the table of the 1% that we want. At your table, if we dare reach into the platter to serve ourselves (as you so coyly pretend we are invited to do), we know you’ll just stab our starving hands with your fork.  We need money to topple the F*&(& table OVER and build a new one for ourselves, a table designed with a transparent, equitable, creative, sustainable and socially just agenda for public education.

Application submitted by: public school parents, teachers, and students

We who are requesting help have knowledge, expertise, facts, experience, dedication, passion, and commitment. But apparently all of that counts for jack shit unless you’ve got the dough. So please Mr. or Mrs. Billionaire out there (who are not already lining your stock portfolio with my child’s educational future)—Please, just send us a few million dollars so we can have a voice too?

When People Seem Extreme

Posted: July 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

This week’s blog includes a personal true story intended as an allegory. I hope my friends and readers, fellows in arms in the fight against corporate reform, will garner some helpful meaning from it. But in the words of song writer Anna Nalick:

2 AM and I’m still awake, writing a song
If I get it all down on paper, it’s no longer inside of me,
Threatening the life it belongs to
And I feel like I’m naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you’ll use them, however you want to

(Please note that the views expressed here are purely my own and may not reflect the opinions of colleagues or organizations with which I am affiliated).

My daughter was born March 8th 2007, and my son was born March 16th 2005.  When they were much younger it was pragmatic to have one birthday party for the both of them.  On the day of the joint birthday party when my daughter turned two and my son four, my husband and I had the worst argument of our shared life.  Let me back track a little.  We had our children rather quickly after our marriage began.  I was of “advanced maternal age” (a term that still makes me cringe) and Len had assured me that he was ready.  So we pulled the trigger.  But it turns out that the idea of having kids was a little different than the reality for Len. He had tremendous struggles adjusting to this new role.  I’ll spare you the details as they do not relate to the purpose of this story directly but suffice to say he was miserable and angry most of the time.

From the time Conor was born until the day of that fateful birthday party four years later we had talked. And talked. We tried various solutions.  We kept assuring ourselves things would get better. But they didn’t.  We are both reasonable people who love each other and are accustomed to using a whole host of tools to find solutions to life’s problems. But none of it was really working.  Finally I just hit a wall.  I had had enough.

The friends and family had gone home.  Wrapping paper was strewn across the living room floor.  The kids, exhausted from the days events were happily seated downstairs watching a movie.  I sat on the second step of the stairs to our split level ranch.  Len was standing right in front of me.  I looked at him and said “You have a choice. Either get your shit together, or pack your bags and go move in with your mother until you can figure out exactly what it is that you want.  This cannot go on.”  I said this not because I WANTED him to leave.  I did not WANT to get divorced!  But in that moment, which was not impulsive but had been building year after year, was born from such exhausted frustration that, at that moment, I could see no other options.  It was a call to do the opposite of what I wanted to have happen because I feared without some extreme actions the end would become inevitable and I wanted to stave that off.     It was a statement of last resort. Sometimes the extreme words are needed to get people’s serious and real attention. Everything else becomes rhetoric.

Maybe your life is more perfect than mine but for me, there are those times, those moments, where extreme statements feel like they must be made.  The ones that make us feel sick as we utter the words, but we utter them nonetheless because we hit a breaking point where anything else less extreme just feels like enabling of the problem itself. Sometimes the other person needs to know just exactly how serious the probably really is.  Len would tell you that in his mind he knew all along that our problems felt insurmountable, that I wasn’t telling him anything he didn’t know. But at that moment, when I gave him the stark choice, the reality hit him on a much deeper level. It brought to a head the grim reality of what would happen if things didn’t change. He could have said “You bitch. What, you want a divorce?” Or, “Fine! That’s what you want? I’m leaving!” But he didn’t. I am grateful.  He knew the truth was that in fact ending our relationship was the LAST thing I wanted.  I had no control over how he would take my challenge-i cannot control what other people do. But I am grateful that he understood my intent.

My ultimatum wasn’t indicating my desire for him to leave but my desire for him to stay, but with deep drastic changes that HAD to happen or the hard reality was that we wouldn’t survive.  Fortunately this allegory has a happy ending.  We are celebrating our 9th year anniversary in August.  We both worked together on the problems.  All relationships are 50/50 and we were both willing to look in the mirror and see what our half of the problem was. But that moment of desperation- where I acted rashly out of emotion, frustration, confusion, exhaustion, and anger,  where I took a huge risk unsure of how it would play out, was a defining moment.

It was a wake-up call we needed.  I know it could have gone another way.  But I didn’t feel we had much else to lose at that juncture.

“I don’t regret setting bombs,” educational activist Bill Ayers told the New York Times in 2001 about his experience with the Weathermen. “I feel we didn’t do enough.”

A lot of relationship counselors might tell you what I did was foolish or ill advised.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  It was what it was.  It was what I needed to do at that exact moment.  Not what I needed to say the day before or say the day after. I wasn’t ready the day before and I might have changed my mind the day after.  Would I say it again? Maybe.  I think the universe is too complex for oversimplified theories about going back in time and changes ones fate as if in billiard ball form we could then predict all the other changes that would ensure. I ascribe to the butterfly effect of time and cause and effect.  We do the best we can with what we’ve got. And we make decisions that at the moment that they seem to make sense, even if we cannot predict what the outcomes might be, intended or unintended.

In our fight against the undaunting attack against public schools, teachers and our children, we have defining moments like these-You know the feeling.  We are angry, tired, frustrated, we feel betrayed, sold out, dupes for the plan of the 1%.  We have breaking points.  Are the statements or actions we make at these moments right or wrong?  I don’t know.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Much of life is a matter of perspective. I don’t think that’s asking the right question. The only response is that “in that moment it felt necessary.”

I end with Anna Nalick again:

Cause you can’t jump the track, we’re like cars on a cable,
And life’s like an hourglass, glued to the table.
No one can find the rewind button, boys,
So cradle your head in your hands,
And breathe… just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe

 

Published by “At the Chalk Face”

Resolution: I will Dismantle Corporate Education Reform.