Monday, February 22, 2016

I'm Angry

I’m angry.

No, I am blindingly furious right now. I usually do not allow myself to get truly angry (no one can make you angry; it’s a choice). Instead, I get irritated, I rant, I let off steam—then I like to get to work solving problems; however, when I finally get incensed, I do not blaze; I become cold and calculating. I aim for the heart and the deathblow.

I’m not the first #oklaed blogger to attempt to capture the rage many of us currently feel. Recently, other educators like Rick Cobb, Rob Miller, and Blue Cereal dared express their outrage at the people and circumstances responsible for the travesties in Oklahoma. A publication I’ve never heard of before (The MiddleGround) responded with pablum, telling the three bloggers, and #oklaed in general, to be polite and use language inoffensive to the morons who caused our state’s myriad issues.

*I’m not including a link because I don’t want their hand wringing, prissy nonsense to have more traffic

As a woman, I’ve been told to be kind, to not be aggressive, to watch my mouth. You might as well wave a red flag in my face. Generally, intelligent people choose expletives and diatribe when our honey won’t even catch flies—or legislators. People raise their voices when others refuse to hear polite conversation or when others refuse to enter into healthy discourse. Then, we begin shouting and swearing, hoping something will filter through the deliberate deafness and obtuseness. Curse words are not my default setting. Knowing the three men, I doubt they simply cuss for fun (well, maybe BCE… J). They are writers and revisers who pick their words with care. They know the value of words, the power words can carry. Profanity shouldn’t be (and so far hasn’t been) tossed around lightly when addressing a profoundly serious topic like the complete defunding of our schools.

That is only one reason I’m angry. So, for those with sensitive sensibilities, let me warn you: I’m not pulling any punches.

I’m as angry as a wounded animal and as vengeful as a scorned woman; however, I am not the one wounded. Instead, I’m forced to stand politely and quietly by while people I love suffer: my students. I’m expected to sit silently while my elected leaders strip the rags hanging from the emaciated body of public education and cast lots for those rags. If you aren’t familiar with that allusion, try picturing our illustrious leaders as vultures circling the dying, wasted body of public education, greedily eyeing the flesh. The body determinedly crawls forward, crying for a drop of funding while the vultures avidly wait for the last gasp so they can swoop in and rip what is left of the corpse to shreds.

Now, imagine that corpse is your child. Oklahoma’s government is slowly strangling the educational life from YOUR CHILD. This is not a hyperbole. Our leaders actively refuse to tax those who can afford to be taxed. They cheerfully and blindly continue digging Oklahoma’s grave--and stubbornly and willfully refuse to make changes. We will all soon lie in that grave, including your child and the state’s future.

As a writer and sometimes poet, I like to rely on imagery and synesthesia to tell my story. To further this horror story, picture our personified state lying on the operating table, hemorrhaging, yet Fallin and our leaders think the state still has enough blood to donate it. They opened the artery and have turned sightless eyes as the crimson flood pours from the state’s body.

Our leaders have become vampires. Not the sweet sparkly kinds with perfect hair who make you feel all tingly inside. No, they are Dracula incarnate or Lucy Westenra who joyfully and greedily sucked the blood from children to satisfy her own needs. We see this in the form of ESA (voucher) bills, school consolidation bills, bills discriminating against some of our students…basically our leaders are attempting to do anything and everything EXCEPT help create, fund, and nurture healthy public schools. Rather, they’re sucking the life from our schools—and then blaming the victim for shriveling up and dying.

I’m thoroughly sick of making do, of keeping a stiff upper lip, of pulling myself up by my bootstraps, or smiling through the pain…and all the other inane things a**holes say when they fake sympathy. Why should I have to continue drawing a salary that falls below the poverty line—after a decade of teaching? Why should I then continue buying supplies and classroom sets of books with that same laughable salary? Why should I work a full day, then work in the evenings and weekends—for free? Why should I continue being the state’s, and nation’s, whipping boy every time America doesn’t measure up to other countries on something as ludicrous as a standardized test? 

At this point, platitudes and promises are nothing. Do not beg for money to fix the Capitol so tourists can be impressed with a building. Do not even go there when schools are dimming lights and trying to scrape the bottom of nearly-empty barrels. I guess tourists will be the only ones coming to this backward state—no businesses are stupid enough to settle in a state “training” an illiterate workforce…no matter how many tax cuts you pimp to them.

Also, Don’t tell me you’re planning on raises for teachers because you understand how important we are. I have teacher friends working second and third jobs and/or on welfare. The thought alone does not count when we’re talking a living wage. I spit on your pretty words. I wipe my feet on the trash pouring from your lying mouth. Yes, words can have power. Your words do not; they are lumps of banality and vanity, designed to help allay your conscience so you can sleep at night.

Sleep. Hmmm, that’s another thing I’m missing as I worry about my students and their lives and how to prepare them for tests no one cares about and how to try to make the rigidity of school actually apply to their lives…but that’s a topic for another post.

Let me wrap this up by asking a few questions and leaving you, dear reader, with a few ideas to ponder….

What good are the “best standards in the nation” when there are no teachers to teach them or if the schools are empty? Of course, they won’t be empty once Oklahoma’s leaders sell our schools and children to the Waltons or Bill Gates or some other money grubbing Ed reformer for thirty pieces of silver.  

Education is the backbone of society. Without educated citizens, Oklahoma’s future looks desolate, bleak, depressing, foreboding...fill in your own appropriate synonym….  

I’ll end with a lovely pithy saying for your next meme: Public schools aren’t failing. Oklahoma’s leaders are failing the schools, your children, and their future.

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