Saturday, January 7, 2012

Reflections on National Opt Out Day

I was proud to be in Denver today. I love the educators in this state. There were quite a few at National Opt Out Day. During my last few years of teaching while I supported teachers, there was nothing more amazing then to get to peek in to another Colorado teacher’s classroom. These teachers are smart.  They are creative.  They are funny – you have to be to juggle 30 or more kids every day. They can be bold.  And they have heart.  When you get to spend time in a teacher’s classroom, you can feel that heart. I felt that heart again today as we gathered for National Opt Out Day.  I miss it.  There’s a lot of sadness that comes with fighting corporate education reform.  There is the personal sadness in knowing that my teaching days are over, prematurely.  And there is the sadness of remembering that feeling of teacher camaraderie that I sorely miss.  There’s nothing more amazing than working with a good team of teachers.  Together, teachers can move mountains.

Today we moved mountains in a different way.  And we had grandparents, parents, students and community members with us. We talked about our personal stories. We talked about the corporate education reform in Colorado. We talked strategy. Teachers shared their fears. Some day I foresee a therapy group for teachers.  If we could have pulled up chairs in a circle today, I would have readily started with “Hi, my name is Peggy, I’m a former teacher….”  Ah….the stories that could be told here.  Teachers Anonymous.  That’s not a joke. It’s becoming a necessity.

Much of what happened today in Denver will remain in Denver.  A lot of it was confidential.  Not a lot of pictures could be taken – teachers who fight corporate education reform must be careful.  Information on opting out was shared.  Everyone was eager to know – when will we meet again? 

We will meet again.

We live in the Rocky Mountains.  We are rugged.  We are daring.   We have initiative.  We have guts.  And we have gusto.  As I left National Opt Out Day it started to snow.  I had planned to go to the store already, and so I headed there, feeling tired but unable to quit thinking about the people I had met, and the hope I had felt.  When I got in to the store I was surrounded by a flurry of Coloradoans rushing to get groceries before the big storm.  I love going to the store before a big storm.  People maneuver their grocery carts with intent.  They are serious.  This is no joking matter.  This is a storm for God sakes!!  So filler up!!!!  Suddenly I found myself feeling the energy as well.  I piled my cart high.  Time to stock up…hunker down...for the big storm.

The check out girl just looked at me and shook her head.  “It’s always like this before a big storm.”  I smiled, she was right.  I had enough groceries for a month.

We know how to prepare for a big storm.  I personally love nothing more than a blizzard.  Over four feet of snow, with trails dug, like a maze from the mailbox to the front door makes me downright giddy.

Yet, we're already in the midst of the big storm.  We're all stocked up.  We are digging a trail, and we are going to find our way out of this corporate education madness. Today was just the beginning in Colorado.  A special thank you to everyone there, and a heart felt hug for a certain someone, who made me cry, but made me very grateful to be a teacher, to be a Coloradoan and to be counted with a group of educators, parents, students and community members who feel a moral obligation to do what is right for Colorado’s children.

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