Stop vilifying pro-ed reform Democrats

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

I wrote about Governor Deal’s Opportunity School District bill in these posts: Opposition to Gov Deal’s Opportunity School District wasn’t strong enough to prevent passage & GA follows LA & TN to an Opportunity School District

It’s passage was close and in a heavily Republican state still needed key Democrats to vote. The GA House vote was very close with one vote to spare to meet the 2/3 majority needed. Of course it brought out the worst in people.

My FB feed was full of people bashing Democrats for their vote on this bill and claiming for “new leadership.”

Here is what one of the Democrats who voted for the bill wrote in a press release:

ATLANTA- March 25, 2015 – Today, Representative Erica Thomas (D- Austell) commented on the passage of SR 287.

“Moments ago, I voted “YES” on SR 287, the Opportunity School District (OSD) resolution,” said Rep. Erica Thomas. “I believe – and will always believe – that as a representative of the people of Georgia – we – as legislators – must do our best to serve the interests of our constituents.

While I understand that everyone won’t be satisfied, it is important that we give the people of Georgia alternatives to the current model of education. Plainly stated, what we are currently doing isn’t working. We have to try something new, something big. A lot of people have been lobbying me on this issue, and one thing that concerns me is that the fate of the children – the actual human beings involved – comes up very little. Our children need to be central to the conversation. And so it is through prayer and reflection with our children in mind that I decided to vote “yes.” It isn’t popular, but it’s a chance we have to take to get these schools – and more importantly – our children back on track.”

I thought it was extremely telling that she wrote that when the folks lobby her on this issue the fate of the children rarely comes up. Its all just rhetoric and politics. What we know is that what we have now, isn’t working. And the most powerful stories come from those who tell stories like this from this post: When the only option is a failing school

She is entering Kindergarten next year. It’s too late for her to go to a public charter school to get picked for the lottery. The schools around one of her homes (she has 3—long story, don’t ask) is BAD, the school around her other home is WORSE and the school around her last home is THE WORST. She’s a smart kid and I only want the best for her. Private school isn’t a viable option at this point.

These stories are real, and from all over the country. And these parents deserve a great school for their child. Let’s give it to them NOW, not the “wait and see” method.

How dare you accuse me of not being a Democrat?

In this last blog, a commentator went so far as to question my place as a Democrat.

First, I’d like to say, if Democrats came across a pro-choice Republican they would be applauded, but a pro-education reform Democrat? Not so much.

I agree the my stances lean closer to the middle of the isle, but I am in no means a Republican. Does that make me belong to no political party?

I always end back up under the Democratic umbrella if you will after seeing that the Republican side is just too radical. But that does not mean that all Democratic policies are well implemented or correct. And I have a responsibility to myself, my community and my party to point out those differences and stand for what I believe is right. That’s how change happens.

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

I grew up in a Democratic family. My father watches Rachel Maddow all day long on MSNBC. My mother is a Democrat but can make an educated decision towards a moderate Republican as appropriate. I went to college with the idea that I would get teachers more money as a politician! I interned for Democratic Senator Jack Reed my first semester in college in Wash. DC.

I became officially a Democrat when a friend of mine in college recruited me to go on my first DCCC trip to Kentucky to help elect Ben Chandler in 03 or 04. On this trip I saw young democrats working hard and old wrinkly republicans working sparsely in that election. I decided then that Democrats worked hard and Republicans were lazy. I ended up involved in more Democratic activities and decided I wanted to be a Democrat. My college advisor was a Democrat as were most of the college friends. I went on a couple of other DCCC trips in college. I participated in a was president of my College Democrats at my college. Nancy Pelosi graduated from my college, along with Kathleen Sebelius.

My first real job was with a Progressive grassroots organization, USAction – heavily democratic leaning. I attended a variety of election trips to Erie, PA, and Manchester, NH for GOTV operations that were 501C3, but were Democratic leaning. When I first moved to Atlanta, I got in touch with Young Democrats and asked how we could get a Dekalb County Young Democrats started again, as it had faltered.

I believe in the social safety net and actually think it needs to be better. But we CANNOT tolerate fraud and wasted monies.

I believe in public education and have committed my life to improving it.

I believe in spending government money, but also to be fiscally responsible. Everyone should pay their fair share. Anyone who has managed their home budget understands that you can’t spend money you don’t have so you have to be smart with it.

I believe in LGBT rights, including adopting children and getting married.

I believe in doing everything possible to reduce the need for an abortion, but am not for restricting the rights of women in that way.

I support greenspace and healthy earth and am big into recycling.

I am not well versed in international issues, but I generally believe in diplomacy before war.

I believe in public transportation and making infrastructure investments in our communities.

But yet, because I support the proper spending of money in education and the ability to let parents choose the best school for their child – you claim I am not a Democrat?

You better think again.

 

Democrats are cavalier about students

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

I’ve been looking for a comparable circumstance for a long time and finally found one watching the news recently. There has been a great deal of coverage about international issues and the US’s engagement overseas. A reporter was asking a Republican member of Congress about President Obama’s intention not to put “boots on the ground” overseas. The Republican Congressman talked about how he thought it was inappropriate to say we wouldn’t send troops because we don’t know the extent of the security risks…etc. Basically, he was saying he was willing to put US troops on the ground to accomplish a mission. Republicans have always been a bit cavalier about sending our men and women overseas and for extended periods of time. Like they just don’t give it s second thought.

This is exactly how I feel about Democrats who stand in the way of education reform. I’ll ask them what they would tell their constituent if he/she came to him and said they wanted more options for their children, that their assigned school is underperforming. I here time and time again, “Just wait, give us time, they’ll get better, we need to invest more funding in our schools and they will be better.” This is a very similar attitude I heard from a Warwick City Councilor in her response to a post about my HA experience. One legislator told me, “They need to wait for the betterment of the school system as a whole.”

Well, you know what? How rude is it to tell a parent “I know the school isn’t very good, but please stick with it, we’re going to fix it.” Kids don’t have time to waste or wait. Every minute a student sits in a classroom with an ineffective teacher, every day that student does not receive a quality education, is a day they will never get back. We can’t just “wait” until the schools are better and then take our kids back to school. This is an unfair notion that does not move education forward and really sets our kids at a disadvantage. I asked that legislator if he would say that to a constituent, and he said yes. Somehow, I doubt that!!

Our kids deserve the chance have a high quality education everyday, not just once the school gets around to it. I feel like Democrats are cavalier about our kids getting a high quality education right now, in the same way that Republicans are cavalier about sending our men and women to war.