Which side are you on?

November7

2012-11-03_11-05-44_217
This was a long, hard, slog of a campaign in California, even without there being a contest at the top of the ticket. Winning on 30 and defeating 32 was not done by magic, or by throwing money into a media campaign, it was done one phone call at a time. If you were one of the 500-700 teachers and education supporters that I called (and I was not even one of the most productive callers at my local), I’m sorry I interrupted your dinner, but phone calls are how elections like this are won. People glance at mailers, and toss them in the recycling. ┬áDVR/TIVO technology is making tv less important. Human contact is how we get the job done. Just as it was on the top of the ticket.

Why am I sharing this? Proposition 32, The Special Exemptions Act, a wolf-in-sheeps-clothing initiative that sought to choke-off teachers’ ability to participate in policy and politics discussions (money being the mother’s milk of that), while letting out-of-state millionaires hide behind the “beard” of so-called “public-benefit corporations”. But it’s not just a California problem. Wisconsin and Indiana show how far folks are willing to go to roll back teacher collective bargaining. Expect ALEC model legislation, like Prop 32, to come to your state too, in whatever form it takes to take away teachers’ right to organize. What will you do? Here are some of my suggestions…

  • Stay in touch, and share with other teachers in other areas. Learn from their battles;
  • Inform non-educators you know, and colleagues who are not politically up-to-date, about the state of things so they have the background knowledge to discuss more convoluted topics, like a Proposition 32 when that comes up;
  • When the battle comes to your state (and it surely will, or has already), participate: testify to law-makers, write letters, if it’s a legislative battle, phone-bank and precinct walk if it’s a political campaign — what you can’t do is sit on the sidelines;
  • Make allies with others, non-certificated staff, non-teacher unions, community groups, parents, and make it clear this is NOT just about your paycheck, it’s about your ability to speak for their children, and their jobs.

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I do not like to phonebank, it’s not how I would choose to spend my evenings, but sometimes circumstances take away our choices and we’re forced to do what has to be done. When fate knocks on your door asking you to stand up it’s not going to be to do easy things, it will be to do the difficult but necessary work that is involved in organizing. There are no sidelines to sit on when that happens.

2012-11-03_11-05-44_217 by SacTeachers, on Flickr

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All of Ms. Mercer's work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.