Thursday, June 1, 2017

Civic Engagement - Petition Style

Friends from The Happy Ladies Club have formed an Indivisible Team.  Prompted by the outlines and suggestions from the former Congressional staffers who created Indivisible to mobilize citizen action against the Trump agenda, 20 or 30 of them meet and talk and plan.

Action items seem to elude them, for the most part.  Some want to read philosophy or criticism or current events and spend the time discussing the ideas.  Some want to protest, with signs and chants and marching.  Some want to write letters and postcards, some want to visit the offices of our elected officials, some just enjoy the time spent with others.

None of that was attractive to me; I'm happy spending my Fridays with JannyLou, harassing our legislators and registering our opinions without waiting for the agreement of a group.  Even now, with my partner in crime spending the summer in Colorado, I've been dropping in on Sen. Flake and Rep. McSally, sharing my views.  I'm still writing postcards and commenting on-line.

Yesterday, I added a piece to my bag of tricks.  I am now an official volunteer with SOS - Save Our Schools.  Today, I carried two petitions to my Humanities Seminar, collecting signatures from my fellow classmates for an initiative to put the rammed-through-by-our-Legislature school voucher program on the ballot in Arizona, with an eye toward revoking it.

There were a lot of public school enthusiasts in the room.  Half of them reached for their wallets as I explained the proper way to fill in the form; the name on the petition has to match the name on your driver's license.  Don't judge; do you know if your middle initial or middle name or the Junior or III is on your photo id?  A blue or black ink pen must be used.  No markers or felt-tips or Sharpies are allowed.  Each petition is county specific; were I traveling to Phoenix I'd have to take a virgin packet along for the ride.

I heard stories about immigrants and public education, about state sponsored scholarships for college, about years in the classroom and the lack of funding and support for the most basic of services our country provides - education.  Mostly, we talked about the dreams that public education makes possible, the opportunities for learning which are available to everyone, the way public schools changed our lives.

Yes, we agreed that there are bad teachers and poor administrators and failing schools, but our experiences were more positive than that.  We agreed that the charter school movement here in Arizona has close financial and personal ties to both our Governor and our Legislators.  We agreed that test scores don't bear out the success stories Betsy DeVos and her ilk promulgate.  We laughed as we tried to read our licenses without our glasses.

We have the Trump Presidency to thank for this post.  Civic engagement is at an all time high - at least in this house.

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