Charlottesville. The news is dizzying and horrifying. I've not been able to tear myself away from all the reports and commentary and analysis and all the awful awful things 45 is saying, and by now I'm feeling wrung out from it all and impatient with everything and everyone around me. If it weren't for going trail running the last two days, I might have snapped by now.
Rather than focus on my own feelings, however, I think it's best to channel this emotion and energy into constructive action. I've been contemplating what areas I can best be an advocate for change. I do little things. I bought a Nasty Woman t-shirt from Samantha Bee to support Planned Parenthood. I call my senators' offices on a fairly regular basis these days, and I did so again this week, but I'm not sure how effective that really is.
I've come to realize that the public institution I am most familiar with, in which I have an actual, real connection with and potential influence on, and the place where, unfortunately, I see inequality and injustice on a daily basis is the schools. Public schools are one of the few (the only?) places where you can regularly see a cross-section of society. And because I believe the basis for a healthy democracy is a well-educated public, the first place I will advocate for justice and fairness is in the schools.
So last night I went to a school board meeting, and I was inspired to do so by all the calls to action after the terrible events of last weekend. I'm guessing most of you don't feel that your particular call to action is to wade into bureaucracy in response to neo-Nazi violence. If you're scratching your head right now I don't blame you. But it makes sense to me. I always say I'm a fierce defender of public education because it's supposed to be for everyone. Learning is power and all that.
I do tend to be wary of people in authority. I distrust those with power. Still, for all the critiques I may have about what's going on in public schools, I ought to have a better understanding of how decisions are made that do affect the day-to-day goings-on in classrooms.
It was my first time at a school board meeting. I've had good intentions to attend in the past but always had conflicts or felt too tired to spend an evening in a small room listening to a dozen people spew jargon I couldn't understand. But for all the critiques I may have about what's going on in public schools, I ought to have a better understanding of how decisions are made that do affect the day-to-day goings-on in classrooms.
The agenda for last night's meeting was related to a charter school proposal. I won't go into it, though if you are a super nerd you can watch the meeting here on YouTube. I didn't understand everything they were talking about (see above re: edu-speak), and it wasn't the most riveting 90 minutes I've lived in my life (I left before the second meeting, which lasted another hour, and yes I'm enough of a super nerd I watched the last hour online later that night), but it was illuminating. Running a district of 50 schools and tens of thousands of students is extremely complicated, obviously.
Who knows if I'll ever speak up at one of the meetings where they are taking public input. Maybe I'll only ever just go and listen. But it's a start, and maybe it's a place I can make a difference.