19 february 2011
As the wind whirls whiteness outside—another winter storm—and as my throat scratches inside—another winter cold—I muse on different forms of courage.
The courage of a student, out of school for more than a decade, GED in hand, ready to earn a college degree.
The courage of young moms in my classes, many of them single, supporting their kids and themselves, excelling at every assignment, and dedicated to providing their families with high quality food and education on a limited budget.
The courage of everyday women and men, who dedicate their lives to serving the public in high profile—public safety, education—and invisible—snow plow drivers, custodians—positions.
The courage of these same people who risk their livelihood in and out of their professions, standing up for others and for themselves.
The courage of 14 elected officials who recognize that doing your job means that sometimes you're not where you're "supposed to be."
The courage of people to travel from around the state, the region, the country, the continent, to peacefully protest and stand up for the very essence of human rights.
When I was a young, unsure teenager in high school, so desperately seeking to fit in, I wished my dad would wear any other coat than his shiny blue one with the union insignia emblazoned on back. My friends' fathers were managers and principals and engineers. My dad was a blue collar worker and a union rep.
Ironically, the farther I traveled through the educational system, the closer I came to truly embracing my parents' values of supporting and celebrating the working people: education as liberation from wrongful aspiration.
Today, my dad advocates for working people every day.
Today, I work diligently to provide my students—many of them first generation college students from working class backgrounds, like me—the education they need to gain entry in the middle class.
Today, I realize that my education and training as an educator, has given me the courage to tell the truth and take a stand for causes I believe in: worker's rights. Women's rights. Human rights. Equality. Social justice.
Beyond that, though, I remember the basic lessons from my parents about the value of all laborers, those with and without degrees. Education does not only come from sitting in classrooms and reading books (as I once believed). It comes from questioning. From observing. From considering possibilities. From being in the thick of things.
And, as I tell my students, deciding what you believe.
Yesterday I stood, marched, and chanted with 68,000 other Americans engaging their first amendment rights.
Today, I stand with my dad as he wears that union jacket (metaphorically, as he's a state away). I would wear the jacket myself.
Tomorrow, I stand with and for my students. All of my students, regardless of what they believe.
19 february 2011