Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Work Goes On: The Dream Shall Never Die

What Are The Odds? 

Given that the Chicago Cubs came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Cleveland Indians in the World Series, and Iowa just defeated UM in football, I shouldn't have been as shocked as I was to have Trump win.

Rationally, I knew that, as described, the chance of Trump winning was about the same as a college kicker making a 38-yard field goal. I've seen that happen--not frequently, but also--not so infrequently. (I'm not a huge football fan--but I get called in to watch the replays of the big plays.)

So, the election happened.

And I should be happier than I am that two out of three of "my" candidates won the Ann Arbor school board election. Actually, I am very happy that Harmony Mitchell and Jeff Gaynor won seats on the AAPS board; and that Donna Lasinski won a seat in the State House, leaving open an AAPS school board seat, so another new person can join the school board (and, in the process, putting a dedicated education advocate in the state House).

But I would have given all that up for a Clinton victory.

I was at an immigration conference on Friday, and Rep. Stephanie Chang spoke. She represents Ecorse, River Rouge, and part of Detroit, and one of the things she said is, "We need more candidates running for office!"

I think she's right. So I am really happy that we had competitive school board elections in nearly all of our local districts. It takes a lot to put yourself out there--I appreciate that people are willing to do it!

I had forgotten, but even when candidates lose, competitive elections do some important things:
  • draw attention to key issues
  • allow candidates to refine narratives and see what catches attention
  • running for "lower level" seats like school board allows candidates to learn the skills needed to run for higher office

One thing that I had also forgotten is that there are lots of roles for people who want to support candidates, but don't want to run for office. I had also forgotten that canvassing can be fun, especially if you are working with friends. I canvassed for Hillary Clinton in Ohio and Pennsylvania with old friends; made a new friend canvassing for Clinton in Michigan; and got a lot of exercise walking the streets for Hunter, Harmony and Jeff in some beautiful fall weather.

Now What?

The pressing question for me, now, is: what should I work on? Part of me thinks, "Why were you working on local education issues when so many "bigger" issues are more important?" Part of me thinks, "Work on things you can control and that have a chance of success."

Should I be working on climate change? the Dakota pipeline? civil liberties? reproductive rights? I'm exhausted just thinking about it!

Even within education issues, the big question for me is whether we should focus on the short game or the long game. Let's face it--the short game is ALL defense, and it's much bigger than some of the issues that are important to me, like overtesting. [They are related, though.]

Some proposals I have heard are coming down the pike from the state legislature include attacks on teacher pensions and the use of specialized education accounts to pay for private schools.

The long game would be focused on things like ending gerrymandering; improving our Freedom of Information Act law; ending online charters and for-profit charters.

I still believe that our new local group Educate Ann Arbor; the statewide group Michigan Parents for Schools; the national Network for Public Education have a lot to contribute.

More Than Ever

For inspiration, I am sharing Ted Kennedy's 1980 Democratic convention concession speech, in which he says:

"the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." 

After we are done mourning--we've got work to do. So whatever you choose to work on? Choose something.
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  1. Ruth, your list of positives for competitive elections are true, and significant. However, I assure you I will not be running for higher office. (Given our comparable ages, I'll leave that to Elizabeth Warren four years from now.)

  2. Here's an Okemos Parents for Schools article worth reading: