Monday, January 11, 2010

Reactions from my recent emails:

I have to laugh at the impression new folks on this email list (and there are many) might have of me, based on the tone of my Meier/Ravitch emails a couple of weeks ago (,, and 


Angry white man anyone? One of my friends even speculated that I might be having other issues in my life...  Nope, I couldn't be happier.  I've been the luckiest guy in the world since before I was born (and ever since), and my main goal in life at this point is to just not screw it up (as so many people – mostly men – seem so adept at doing, the latest example of which is Tiger Woods).


Someone sent me a collections of quotes about new year's and I wanted to share this one from Ben Franklin: "Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better man."  And my mom always says, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it."


In light of this wise advice, why are some of my emails very angry and why do I risk the possible consequences of calling out particular individuals?  There are a number of reasons:


A) The more I learn about our K-12 public educational system, I madder I get.  It reminds me of the bumper sticker, "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention."  In so many ways, we have allowed a system to develop in which our most vulnerable children are repeatedly thrown under the bus due to bureaucratic and political imperatives and the interests of adults.  Exposing this evil – and the people behind it – is the second-most common theme in my writings (after the celebration of those who are reforming our broken K-12 system and saving kids).


B) To quote a friend: "No social progress has ever happened without conflict.  Thus, I believe well-chosen conflict is a prerequisite to real social change."


C) My goal is to get as many other people as possible engaged in this fight, so I want my emails to be provocative for two reasons: first, so people read and forward them, and second, so people who do read them are inspired to get involved.


D) I can say things that need to be said, but that other reformers can't say for political reasons.  Plus I don't mind the resulting attacks (in fact, I view it as a badge of honor when folks come after me on their blogs). 


E) I deliberately push the boundaries because it moves the middle in our direction.  When I'm throwing bombs, it makes other reformers appear more like moderates (even though they're not – we're all zealots!).  For example, I support targeted voucher programs – still the third rail in the Democratic Party – not only because I think they help kids, but also because if you can put vouchers into play, the unions are willing to compromise in a lot of other areas.

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