I was recently having a conversation on how my politics have changed in the last 10 years. Because they’ve changed. A lot.
When I was younger if you had asked me how I felt about entitlements, or welfare, or vouchers, my answer would closely mimic the Republican party line. I didn’t identify with the Republicans – I believed too firmly in gay marriage and reproductive rights to align myself completely- but I agreed with the phrases “limited government”, “fiscal responsibility”, “low taxes”.
Then I had Violet. During her 10 day stint in the NICU we needed tests that weren’t covered by insurance, we met with world renowned specialists, we lined up medicines and knew it would be hard and that we’d need help from our parents but the bills would be paid.In the next plastic crib over, there was a very young mother and her baby. One night, I couldn’t help overhearing her talking to someone on the phone about what her treatment options were and what she could afford. She was crying. She didn’t know what to do.
It was then that my “pull yourself up by your bootstraps, accept responsibility for your life, get a job, and pay your bills” belief started to crumble.
My daughter was going to get top of the line care simply because she was lucky enough to be born to a family that could afford it.
I’m not a bleeding heart liberal (though my more right leaning friends say so) and I’m not a cold hearted conservative (despite what some of my more left leaning friends may think). Simply stated, I know that we aren’t all fortunate enough to be born with the same opportunities and I believe that we need public institutions and solutions. I hope for a world where that isn’t up for debate.
The education policies and reforms being put forward by our state government right now are a travesty. And I do not use that word lightly. We are gutting our public education system. The licensing requirements for teachers are approaching those of the normal school era. We are making it next to impossible for our public universities to compete on a national (and global) scale. We’re threatening tenure and watching as amazing educators flee for more welcoming universities. We are smashing the rungs on the ladder out of poverty while protecting our richest citizens. We are doing this at the same time we are making it harder for our poor to get the resources they need to survive.And the governor who is leading our state down this rabbit hole is planning a run for President.
And leading in some polls.
Someone told me the other day that I shouldn’t worry so much about this whole school thing. You send your kids to private school, anyway, so what’s the big deal?
The big deal is that not every parent wants to send their child to a religious institution for a quality education. And they shouldn’t have to.
The big deal is that education is one of the surest stepping stones out of poverty and into the middle class.
The big deal is that the distribution of wealth in this country continues to become more and more uneven and our middle class continues to deteriorate.The big deal is we need a middle class. We need educated individuals. We need to make the American Dream more attainable not less. I need to stop sounding like a third-rate Presidential candidate. Anyway…
I saw this poem today on Facebook. I’ve been a fan of Neil Hilborn for awhile now but something he says in this poem really resonates with me…
I am so lucky.
I wish we lived in a world where even those who weren’t so lucky were afforded things such as health care, food, and a quality education simply because that’s what we do.