Tuesday, April 19, 2011

An Ever-emerging Nation

On Patriots' Day, before marathoners take their marks on the road from Hopkinton to Boston, before pancake breakfasts are served and parades step off, re-enactors will stir in the morning haze as John Hancock's nimble-footed secretary protects a trunkload of Patriot-activist papers from British Regulars descending upon Lexington's Green.

When the Stamp Act crisis developed in 1765, signaling the revolutionary era, Patriot-activists were quick to respond. Patriot men referred to themselves as “sons of liberty” and Patriot women as “daughters of liberty”. Spurred by the revolutionary cause, all were drawn to political action.

Women re-enactors tell of their participation in boycotts on finer British textiles, dressing their parts in “homespun” linen, wool, or “linsey-woolsey”. The constant spinning, knitting, and sewing, they say, kept the hands busy and the mind free. In their sewing or spinning circles, conversation would naturally turn to political and economic matters.

In her book Founding Mothers, Cokie Roberts asserts that revolutionary women did what women do in remarkable circumstances: they accompanied soldiers to camp; served as spies; organized boycotts of British goods; and defended their homesteads alone. And all the while they bore and buried and reared children. Then, the Revolutionary War was over and there was a country to raise!

How indebted I am to our Founding Mothers and Daughters of Liberty -- indeed, to all women who have elevated and strengthened the level of political thought and civic engagement throughout our democratic history.
Even now, as rancorous and uncivil discourse in Congress over the size of government threatens to quash us, one thing is certain: government is what we agree to do together, whether we are talking about revenue, laws, highways, or public services.

This Patriot's Day, let's be more like our foremothers and forefathers and renew a spirit of revolutionary activism that draws us into political action. After all, government is all of us—sons and daughters of an ever-emerging nation.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Rally for School Funding

Government mandates.  Increased class sizes.  Shrinking budgets.  Curriculum cuts.  Public schools today are challenged to provide every child with opportunities to meet their educational needs ... budgets are tight but government requirements and children's needs are growing.

The state of Massachusetts and local communities, with the federal government as a critical third partner, have a shared responsibility for maintaining public schools and assuring that all children have equitable access to a high-quality public education.

Across Massachusetts, schools lack resources for critical programs they need to reduce the achievement gap and overcome barriers to learning that threaten the quality of education for every child, and leave our most vulnerable children behind.

To keep the promise of public education alive, we must renew our partnership with our policy makers and  promote a more fruitful collaboration on behalf of every child in every public school in every Massachusetts city and town.

The Parent Teacher Association is the oldest volunteer child advocacy organization in the country.  I am a  member of the Massachusetts PTA because we are dedicated to building community and statewide partnerships that work for our schools and our children.  Being a member of our national and state PTA accomplishes great things; as members of PTA we have a unified voice that tells our legislators what is important to us.

Yes, family engagement is about building community and partnering with our child's teachers, and yes, it is also about packing healthy lunches and monitoring screen time and supporting children's activities - - but that's not the whole picture.

We all need to work together - beyond the classroom and school - to help our schools get the resources they need to fulfill the promise that public education holds for every child. 

Albert Einstein is credited with saying, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

Advocacy is like an ever-flowing river, one that you can step into at any place, at any time.  And whether you choose to dip your toe in at the edge of the calm shore, or wade all the way into the deep, your presence has already changed the course.

Now, we must make our voices heard for our children, all of our voices together, in one voice; one voice for children, one voice for children in schools, at town meetings and yes, even at the state house.

Our children deserve no less.