The Goalie vs. Our Worst Nightmare

I’m at the Netroots Nation convention. I spoke at an open discussion on doing the right thing for our students. The audience included passionate activists in health care, justice, the environment, education, retirement protection, unions, you name it.

There was palpable frustration with President Obama. There were lots of questions for me regarding Education Secretary Arnie Duncan and his policies to continue the inappropriate use of testing and pushing competitive grants with winners and losers instead the rights for all students to needed services regardless of whether or not your district had a good grant writer. We have a lot of fights with Secretary Duncan.

I was asked about the coming election next fall. I was asked why educators should support President Obama’s re-election given our fights with Secretary Duncan.

I answered with the hard truth: Our choice will be between President Obama and our worst nightmare.

Why am I so sure that the Republican Convention will produce a candidate who is our worst nightmare? I answered with the experience I’ve seen this year. Billionaires like the Koch Brothers and their cronies have influenced governor and legislative races across the country.

They are focused. On the national level, they are determined to keep the House, take the Senate and replace President Obama at all costs. They have used their influence to specifically attack our country’s strongest unions which are public sector unions. Among those unions, they have singled out education unions.

When they won the House, Senate and governor’s seat in Wisconsin, we saw what happened, so we know what will happen. Within a heartbeat, they took after the unions that did not support them. They stripped them of their rights to even sit down with their school districts and, in good faith, have a voice in negotiating the district’s priorities by restricting collective bargaining.

In Alabama, the same type of stranglehold on a House, a Senate and the executive mansion brought legislation that restricted how unions could use their dues dollars in even alerting their members about political events that affected them. In New Jersey, they’re trying to close down the pension plans of teachers who made career decisions based on a key benefit. The Band of Billionaire Brothers wants to turn the entire country into Wisconsin.

Ask yourself why the Koch Brothers care about whether or not a 2nd grade teacher has a union to advocate for a decent class size. They care because organized unions, especially education unions, advocate for broad middle-class public services and protections. We fight for a secure Social Security, a comprehensive Medicare, worker and consumer protections that keep us safe, a living wage for families. If you’re trying to get rid of those things, you start by getting rid of the unions.

Right now, attempts to strip the middle-class of their rights, have been stopped by a shaky Senate and President Obama.

Smart folks are predicting the Senate may well be taken over by the same forces that took the House. That’s not to say “Republican”. That’s to say “Radical Republicans”. My definition of Radical Republicans? Folks who think Senator Orrin Hatch has to go because he’s too liberal. I am not making this up. I’m just saying. Radical.

If we lose the Senate, we must move to playing defense. We must protect our Goalie.

A goalie doesn’t make points. A goalie keeps the other side from making points. If we keep the Crazy House (i.e. House of Representatives); if the Senate goes Crazy, they will pass legislation to kill unions and to kill Social Security and to kill Medicare, and there will be only one hope that this radical legislation will not become laws that kill the middle-class. Our Goalie, President Obama, holding the veto pen.

Let’s bring Secretary Duncan back into this conversation. I have a lot to fight about with Secretary Duncan about policies where I think he’s absolutely wrong. And he’ll argue with me. And I’ll show him all the research and evidence and the common sense that shows why I’m right and he’s wrong.

But without our Goalie, we will not have the opportunity to have that open, honest fight with Secretary Duncan. We will be facing the Radical Koch Brother’s choice for president. That president will use his or her pen to sign the execution order for my union and middle-class protections that it took generations to build. This loss is our worst nightmare.

We must protect our Goalie, or it’s game over.

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3 Responses to “The Goalie vs. Our Worst Nightmare”

  1. kevin sage

    heard you on Tom Hartman and was quite impressed with the clarity which you spoke. Very well done. My daughter is a second year elementary school teacher in NJ and a new union delegate and will love your site.

    Reply
  2. Jeannine

    Please don’t punish me. If you want my full name, email me. I posted your narrative verbatim plus the following on my Facebook page:

    Ask yourself why [certain forces] care whether a 2nd grade teacher has a union to advocate for a decent class size.
    by on Saturday, June 18, 2011 at 4:00pm

    I’m posting this transcript because 
    YOU NEED TO BE PERSUADED ! ! !
     
    I especially appeal to my Third Culture Kids friends.
    Remember the great teachers in your lives! 
    Please copy and paste this note into your own FB page.
     
     
    The Goalie VERSUS Our Worst Nightmare
    June 17, 2011 at 4:03 by Lily from Lily’s Blackboard
     
    For links cited within the narrative, go to: 
    http://lilysblackboard.org/2011/06/the-goalie-vs-our-worst-nightmare/
     
    I spoke at an open discussion on doing the right thing for our students. The audience included passionate activists in health care, justice, the environment, education, retirement protection, unions, you name it.
     
    There was palpable frustration with President Obama. There were lots of questions for me regarding Education Secretary Arnie Duncan and his policies to continue the inappropriate use of testing and pushing competitive grants with winners and losers instead [of] the rights for all students to needed services regardless of whether or not your district had a good grant writer. We have a lot of fights with Secretary Duncan.
     
    I was asked about the coming election next fall. I was asked why educators should support President Obama’s re-election given our fights with Secretary Duncan.
     
    I answered with the hard truth:  Our choice will be between President Obama and our worst nightmare.
     
    Why am I so sure that the Republican Convention will produce a candidate who is our worst nightmare? I answered with the experience I’ve seen this year. Billionaires like the Koch Brothers and their cronies have influenced governor and legislative races across the country.
     
    They are focused. On the national level, they are determined to keep the House, take the Senate and replace President Obama at all costs. They have used their influence to specifically attack our country’s strongest unions which are public sector unions. Among those unions, they have singled out education unions.
     
    When they won the House, Senate and governor’s seat in Wisconsin, we saw what happened, so we know what will happen. Within a heartbeat, they took after the unions that did not support them. They stripped them of their rights to even sit down with their school districts and, in good faith, have a voice in negotiating the district’s priorities by restricting collective bargaining.
     
    In Alabama, the same type of stranglehold on a House, a Senate and the executive mansion brought legislation that restricted how unions could use their dues dollars in even alerting their members about political events that affected them. In New Jersey, they’re trying to close down the pension plans of teachers who made career decisions based on a key benefit. The Band of Billionaire Brothers wants to turn the entire country into Wisconsin.
     
    Ask yourself why the Koch Brothers care about whether or not a 2nd grade teacher has a union to advocate for a decent class size. They care because organized unions, especially education unions, advocate for broad middle-class public services and protections. We fight for a secure Social Security, a comprehensive Medicare, worker and consumer protections that keep us safe, a living wage for families. If you’re trying to get rid of those things, you start by getting rid of the unions.
     
    Right now, attempts to strip the middle-class of their rights, have been stopped by a shaky Senate and President Obama.
     
    Smart folks are predicting the Senate may well be taken over by the same forces that took the House. That’s not to say “Republican”. That’s to say “Radical Republicans”. My definition of Radical Republicans? Folks who think Senator Orrin Hatch has to go because he’s too liberal. I am not making this up. I’m just saying. Radical.
     
    If we lose the Senate, we must move to playing defense. We must protect our Goalie.
     
    A goalie doesn’t make points. A goalie keeps the other side from making points. If we keep the Crazy House (i.e. House of Representatives); if the Senate goes Crazy, they will pass legislation to kill unions and to kill Social Security and to kill Medicare, and there will be only one hope that this radical legislation will not become laws that kill the middle-class. Our Goalie, President Obama, holding the veto pen.
     
    Let’s bring Secretary Duncan back into this conversation. I have a lot to fight about with Secretary Duncan about policies where I think he’s absolutely wrong. And he’ll argue with me. And I’ll show him all the research and evidence and the common sense that shows why I’m right and he’s wrong.
     
    But without our Goalie, we will not have the opportunity to have that open, honest fight with Secretary Duncan. We will be facing the Radical Koch Brother’s choice for president. That president will use his or her pen to sign the execution order for my union and middle-class protections that it took generations to build. This loss is our worst nightmare.
     
    We must protect our Goalie, or it’s game over.
     
     
    http://lilysblackboard.org/about/
     
    About Lily
     
    Lily Eskelsen, an elementary teacher from Utah, is Vice President of the National Education Association. She is one of the highest-ranking labor leaders in the country and one of its most influential Hispanic educators.
     
    She began her career in education as a lunch worker in a school cafeteria. She became a kindergarten aide and was encouraged by the teacher to go to college and become a teacher herself.
     
    She worked her way through the University of Utah on scholarships, student loans, and as a starving folk singer, graduating magna cum laude in elementary education and later earning her master’s degree in instructional technology.
     
    After teaching for only nine years, she was named Utah Teacher of the Year, using that title as a platform to speak out against the dismal funding of Utah schools. A year later she was elected president of the Utah Education Association.
     
    Lily was president of the Utah State Retirement System, only the second woman to ever be elected to the position; president of the Children at Risk Foundation; and was a member of the White House Strategy Session on Improving Hispanic Education.
     
    She has built alliances with parents, business and civil rights organizations, and with advocates for the disabled and the poor. She often works with coalitions to engage the public in the political process, and she herself was the first Hispanic to run for Congress in her state, raising almost $1 million and taking 45 percent of the vote against the incumbent.
     
    Lily writes a blog, “Lily’s Blackboard,” covering the latest education issues. Her advice has been published in Parenting magazine, and she serves on the advisory board for Parenting’s Mom Congress.
     
    She has been featured on MSNBC and CNN en Español. And she has been the invited keynote speaker for hundreds of education events in virtually every state, earning her recognition by Education World in their “Best Conference Speakers” edition.
     
    Lily was a finalist for Hispanic Business Magazine’s 2009 Woman of the Year – she was honored for her “unwavering dedication to the teaching profession and commitment to improving the lives of all children.”
     
    She believes that no matter how students arrive, and no matter what their learning conditions, their home conditions or their health conditions, that educators have the sacred duty to be professionals and to care for the whole child. And she believes that professionalism carries the responsibility to take action, individually and collectively, to fight to make the promise of public education a reality and to prepare every student to succeed.

    Reply
  3. Ya-Mia Dawson

    Lily,

    I agree with you on so many points. I was raised in Wisconsin and I have friends and family affected by what has happened in Wisconsin. I know first hand how it affects children to be in an oversized classroom. I now live in the Los Angles area and I see the same issue I had growing up in Wisconsin. The students are suffering and as a middle-class mother who was raised in lower class , I can not believe that my child will have to go through this 32 years later .

    Reply

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