As my wife and I attended a Save Our Schools rally recently, I was asked, “What are you doing here?”
The surprised look on my face must have been obvious. The smiling woman, a stranger to me, was a parent of a public school student and an organizer of the event. When I explained that I was a retired teacher from another state and school district which is over a thousand miles away, she asked, “Are you a grandparent of one of the kids here?”
Well, that was a teachable moment.
My white beard, poster and presence are perfectly understandable to other educators of a certain age. We love children, respect public education and despise those who knowingly dismantle public schools to make way for greedy profiteers who claim to be educational reformers. Testing corporations, charters, and the whole gang of purchased legislators and their billionaire hedge fund managers who are pillaging America are privatizers.
They make profits from public taxes and special contracts – by any means available.
We meet the needs of children; all children are our children.
Yes, but my age?
Hey, look around! The ages of thousands of retired educators of all ranks are evident at all the rallies in all the towns and states in this nation. White beards, creaky bones, and other assorted evidence show that we are not in the front lines of teaching any longer. So what! We are at the rallies and boards of education meetings. We know that the sole purpose of teachers and schools is to meet the educational needs of children. Meet the needs of children. Help them grow up to be the most capable people they can be.
Why are the white bearded men and the wise women active in the fight? Why must we remain in the fight?
Alfred, Lord Tennyson said it best in his Ulysses:
Though much is taken, much abides and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
OK. We are not great heroes, and we know it.
But we will continue to do our best to save our children from the greedy grasp of multinational mega-corporations. We fight on.