Guess what? I went to a “Tea Party” today!


Once again, in case you’ve been living under a rock—to celebrate the 4th of July and America’s independence from tyrants—Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Republican party thought the people in Wisconsin were getting tired of translucent government and used the budget process to declare legislative discussions to be “free” from public scrutiny.

Surprisingly, (to Walker and his henchmen, cronies, colleagues in the Republican party) a diverse group of citizens (here and here) said WTF? And by Saturday morning the “official” announcement was that “somebody” slipped that language in and that the party of translucency was pulling any language that would have made the public discussions about public policy publicly off limits to the public.

Now, Representative Vos is not so sure that keeping the public aware of public policy and the public discussions about public policy is the best policy for the public.  In fact as he said today, there was“nothing sinister” about the proposed open records changes and went on to suggest that this was a way to—get ready—”protect” the legislative process and stop “citizens” lobbyists from being unfairly “targeted.”  Yes, this is now daily life in the weasel badger state of Wisconsin.

But let’s also be real about something.  The decision to pull back publicly opaque government was not simply the result of a progressive backlash but probably had more to do with the Tea Party and Libertarian outrage.

Which actually brings me to the real reason I decided to write this post?  What’s a good liberal minded progressive to do when tea partiers and libertarians make sense?  Seriously?

Well it happened to me today (Actually a few days ago but it was made public today) when An Open Letter to Governor Walker: No More Games on the Common Core was hand delivered to the governor’s office and it was revealed that Dr. Timothy D. Slekar—one of the founding members of United Opt Out and creator of BustED Pencils was the second signature.  Yes that’s my name among a sea of mostly tea partiers and libertarians.

And guess what? When I was asked what I thought about the letter (before it was delivered)? I responded that I really liked it.  And then when I was asked if I would be willing to add my signature to the letter I did not hesitate to agree.

Why?  Well did you read the letter?  If you did, isn’t it clear why I signed it?  It was spot on. There is nothing in the letter that any liberal or progressive would find problematic.

However, what I found out during the day was that the problem was not the actual letter the problem was with the authors.   A few colleagues, friends, allies and facebook friends wondered if I had known that tea partiers and libertarians would be mostly signing the letter and if so did I really think they supported public education?

For the record I had full knowledge of this fact, however it was the content of the letter that I was signing.  Am I skeptical of the true commitment to public schools? Yes.  However, I am skeptical that anybody or any party really wants the revolution that is needed to save our public schools.  In fact I posted this on a Facebook thread today.

The common core is a slippery issue because we get trapped in defending the standards instead of the looking at the purpose behind the standards. If you ask a simple question about the integrity and intent of some of the standards (citing evidence in historical essays) even I will defend the “intent” of the stated standard.

However, that is never what the common core was ever about. They were intended to be tested and they were intended to deprofessionalize teaching and they were intended to siphon money away from real learning and they were intended to be used in a system of blame.

If the common core are implemented as currently proposed they will create a horrific blame machine directed at teachers and public schools.

And let’s be honest, writing new standards and tests will do the same damn thing. The problem is scapegoat accountability systems. At some point WE will have to move beyond being for or against the common core and truly supporting a revolution that transforms public education. Our system must first deal with equity and then proceed to teach a curriculum embedded in the liberal arts and critical of the status quo economic, education and government systems that protect the emerging plutocracy and their fascist like ways of dismantling our communities!

How’s that for STANDARD #1?

So I guess the real question goes something like this: What will I do if tea partiers and libertarians fall back into simple neo-conservative attacks on public schools if (BIG IF) and after they successfully dismantle the common core accountability machine?

When and if that moment ever arrives I will deal with it.  Right now I still have a bunch of neo-liberal democrats (including Barack Obama and Arne Duncan) that I am battling against daily for the survival of our public schools.  But don’t worry.  I can be a “vengeful one!”