“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no help at all.” —Dale Carnegie
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Buck up, Education Activists.
I see that hopeless look on your faces. I see it because it’s the same look reflected back at me in the mirror every morning.
Donald Trump will be our next President, and he’s filling his cabinet with people who are determined to destroy the very offices where he’s putting them in charge.
His Education Secretary doesn’t believe in public schools. His Labor Secretary doesn’t believe in worker’s rights. His Housing chief doesn’t believe in public housing. His head of Environmental Protection doesn’t believe in protecting the environment. Heck! You pick a department and he’s found someone to lead it who doesn’t believe in doing that job!
And to top it all off, he’s got a literal white supremacist as his chief strategist.
But you know what? I’m not scared.
You know why? Because I’m still here.
The forces of greed and ignorance have been salivating all over the prospect of destroying public education for decades, and they haven’t been able to do it.
We’re still here. In almost every municipality, district or borough, our public schools remain open.
Sure, they’re a bit worse for wear in some neighborhoods. But despite billions of dollars being spent to crush them under foot, we survive to fight another day.
And that day is today.
Why should we despair when we behold the glass menagerie of fools Trump has assembled to populate his administration? Glass breaks.
Take Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick for Education Secretary. She’s a religious fanatic who’s dedicated her life to destroying public schools.
I’m not scared of her. We just fought off Arne Duncan and John King – two of the Democrats Ivy League privateers who actually knew what they were doing! If we can stop those jackholes from giving away community schools to rich corporations, we can take this rich Republican lady who never held down a real job and only knows how to get her way by bribing people to do her bidding.
Sorry, Miss Betsy, but your school vouchers aren’t driving my family out of our neighborhood school so my kid can be taken advantage of by multinational corporations and Christian Cult madrasas. We’re wise to your B.S. “School Choice” fantasies.
Then there’s Rex Tillerson, another corporate vampire who’d like to suck our classrooms dry. The Exxon CEO and Trump’s pick for Secretary of State is a climate denying gasoline peddler who’s dimwitted enough to think he knows everything. Drawing on his zero years of experience with children, he actually said aloud that struggling students were “defective products” as if they were irregular widgets being pressed out on the assembly line and unfit for service at his service stations.
I’m not worried about that gashole. He’ll be too busy enriching himself in backroom deals with foreign leaders to pay much attention to our schools. He’s no threat.
Okay. I’ll admit Steve Bannon makes my skin crawl. Trump’s picked a literal neo-Nazi propagandist as chief strategist, an alleged wife beater who apparently thinks black people don’t necessarily deserve the right to vote. Well, my grandfathers taught me how to deal with jackbooted Eurocentric thugs. Bannon can goosestep his way back to Brietbart and take his orange-faced Reality TV star Commander in Chief with him.
Look, Trump is a monster and he’s assembling a cabinet of monstrosities to back him up. But that doesn’t make him scary. The best way to fight monsters is to turn on the light. And we have the brightest light of all – the light of knowledge, experience, and wisdom.
We’ve been doing it for the past 8 years with the Democrats, people who were supposed to be our friends and allies. You think it’ll be harder with GOP nitwits declaring themselves our enemies!?
For all the cosmetic ways the Obama Administration was better, they were almost as enthusiastic about boosting privatization and making sure every child had a standardized test that was written above their level and biased towards rich white kids. All their talk about championing civil rights didn’t stop them from closing poor black kids schools and forcing them into unaccountable charter operations that often provided fewer services, achieved dismal academic results and boosted racial segregation. All their talk about equity didn’t result in any more funding for minority children – only more Common Core, unqualified Teach for America temps and testing, testing, testing. Yet their donors in the standardized testing, publishing and privatization industry raked in obscene profits.
I’m sorry if this hurts some people’s rosy-eyed view of politics, but Obama was no friend to education. Plutocracy isn’t just a practice on the other side of the aisle. The Democrats are almost as beholden to their corporate masters, and like good servants, they do what their rich donors tell them to do.
This isn’t news to us. We’ve been on the outs before. In fact, we’ve never been on the ins.
Donald Trump? Shit! We lived through an administration that wanted to destroy us and actually knew how to do it! We can take Tiny Hands, the Bankruptcy King any day! This is a guy who couldn’t make a profit running casinos – you know, a business where the house always wins! You expect us to cower in fear that he’s going to take away our schools. Son, we’ve fought better than you!
We just need to stop, take a deep breath and re-energize ourselves.
We need a moment of rededication, time to size up our newest antagonists, and prepare for the battles ahead.
Yes, we’re surrounded on all sides. But it’s never been any different.
Yes, we don’t have any political party that supports us. So we’ll either take over the Democrats or build our own legislative network.
I don’t mean to minimize the threat. Trump represents a clear and present danger to our nation, our people and our schools. But we represent a clear and present danger to him. He hasn’t even been sworn in yet and the clock is already ticking. He’ll be lucky to last four years in the ring with us.
So in that spirit, I offer the following advice. And not just to you, my brothers and sisters at arms. I’m speaking to that broken down father, teacher and activist in myself, too.
Chin up, Bucko. We aren’t done yet. Not even close.
Together we can win this fight. We’ve been doing just that for years.
We have nothing to fear from Trump. He and the neoliberals have much to fear from us.
“Fate whispers to the warrior ‘You cannot withstand the storm.’ The warrior whispers back ‘I am the storm.’ ”
“If you want to make a permanent change, stop focusing on the size of your problems and start focusing on the size of you!”
–T. Harv Eker