Monday, April 04, 2011

Storm Clouds over Washington

April 1, 2011 -- The Theatre of the Absurd
I wish it were an April Fool's joke, but it's not.  The young, spiky-haired legislative aide with the parochial school background couldn't be bothered to listen or take notes or do his damn job while we presented our impressive data on eighth grade reading gains and fourth graders' writing and a first grade's campaign that kept a neighborhood library open + alive.

He told us his boss, the new Representative, only comes to Washington to vote.  I'm disgusted -- that's not why he was elected, to sit home in New Hampshire.  He was elected, after all, not appointed by God or the King. I can only hope he gets fogged in and misses the key votes.

I'm in Washington, D.C. for my third Spring Meeting of the National Writing Project.  However on March 2, NWP joined the ever-growing list of educational programs cut from the federal budget.  NWP is the only professional development program for teachers of writing on a national scale.  It has been a 30-year investment by the federal government.  There are over 200 sites across the country.  There are a million reasons why this program works, but we are not in the world of reason any longer.

In meeting after meeting, in auditoriums and small offices, we heard how crazy, how difficult, how impossible it is to do the right thing.  This budget is a war where you and I and all those kids lose everything we need for a future.  It's Partisan Politics and no one seems willing to stand up and stop this reckless destruction of our society.

We also spoke with three thoughtful and interested young people who are legislative aides.  I think of them, too, as I offer this challenge.

Study the photograph of these Kindergarten-Grade 1 students. Consider that in twenty years, the boy in red is your tax accountant. How well-educated would you like him to be?

The little girl in pink wants to be your heart surgeon. The girl on her knees will teach your first grandchild to read and love books.  Maybe one of them will be your hospice worker or an automobile mechanic in the age of solar-electric-robot-driven cars.

This is not a frivolous exercise.  These kids are the future -- your future and my future.  I want them to be well-educated, compassionate, creative, and smart.   I'm willing to pay so these children have a quality, public education.
What about you?  


Meg Petersen said...

Yes. Well said, Gretchen. Thank you for all of your work on behalf of the writing project and those children.

kate said...

beautifully written, Gretchen. thank you on behalf of the NWP and the Greater Kansas City Writing Project.