"One Ring to Rule Them All! One Ring to Find Them. One Ring to Bring Them All and in The Darkness Bind Them."
In these times in which the few but fearsome forces of greed are aligned against school children, public education, the teaching profession and the unions that protect so many of us, we must find common cause, coordinate our activism as much as possible and strive towards a more democratic society. It seems some of our own have either lost their voice or turned against us, but the evil will not triumph for "the only measure that he knows is desire, desire for power; and so he judges all hearts. Into his heart the thought will not enter that any will refuse it" (Gandalf). I have already seen many do so.
I look to my UFT for more direction in our defense, but on some of the most important issues I feel adrift in a sea of scum-filled educational reform. Yet, I know that I am not alone. "All that is gold does not glitter. Not all those who wander are lost." I might say like Frodo, "I wish it need not have happened in my time." But I hear more words, "so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."
I am deciding these things now. Indeed, each of us must decide what role we will play in this battle to save public education and the foundations upon which our democratic society are built. It makes no difference whether we feel ourselves small or great in this great course of events: "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future" (Peter Jackson's Galadriel), particularly if we all bind ourselves to fight the common foe.
We must stay the course together. "On nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him" (Haldir). Yet, most of us are united in opposing the abuse of children through standardized testing wrought with a vengeance. We oppose the demoralization and destruction of the teaching profession through VAM models and the APPR. We oppose calculated attacks upon the Unions that protect us from nineteenth-century-style abuses. We oppose the calculated destruction of the pension programs workers have paid into for their own security in their golden years. We oppose One Common Core to Rule us All. We oppose the destruction of the public-school system and the deregulated, profit-making privatization replacing it. It strikes at the heart of the most sacred foundations of our democracy, the public school system.
In this climate, I would much rather bind my fate with that of "little hobitses" than any Gollum, Wormtongue or the Dark Lord. It is impossible to say for certain where this road leads, but I take comfort in the fact that although our forces are disparate, they are heading in the same direction.
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say (Bilbo).
The forces to destroy public education in the United States are aligned clearly against us all. They push on ahead with superior money in an unapologetic, openly undemocratic way. They push on ahead with superior money and unrestrained greed. They sway some with the promises of wealth, and leave others in despair. "I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil" (Gandalf). Find hope though. I do not envision their ultimate triumph because legions hold to the same values of Sam Gamgee from the great stories of old, "the ones that really mattered," that "there is some good in this world...and it's worth fighting for."