Today’s post is from Ed Speaks editorial board member, Jill Aurora
It really resonated with me, because recently I had an interesting experience with a NYS Assembly candidate who showed up in my driveway during my daughter’s birthday party wanting to talk about “the issues.” He asked what I cared about most. Looking at the screaming 7-year olds running around my front yard, I said, “Ummm, education.” (I really wanted to say, “Getting through the next 30 minutes with my sanity intact,” but that didn’t seem like the kind of answer he was looking for.)
I am glad I mentioned education instead of my desire to see all of these children safely home, because the candidate got SO excited. You know why? Because, of course, he “really cares about education” too! And “if we don’t make the future good for our kids, what are we really accomplishing as a society, isn’t that right?” So if I support him in his primary, then he is “TOTALLY going to support education!”
I wondered what “TOTALLY going to support education” actually meant. So, I started asking him some pointed questions about school funding at the state level, and the issue of equity in state funding that has been exacerbated after the first year under the tax levy cap. I then segued into specific inquiries about the future of the school district I live in.
Poor guy. His eyes glazed over. He began shooting ”get me out of here!“ looks at the man who was accompanying him. And then he slipped into “yes mode.” For those of you who don’t know what “yes mode” is, it’s when someone is talking at you and you just keep agreeing with them to get them to just be quiet already! (I am quite familiar with “yes mode”: I did it to my parents as a teenager and my husband does it to me on a regular basis.)
I finally took pity on the guy, thanked him for supporting education and sent him on his way, I’d forgotten about the event, until I read Peter’s blog post. He encapsulates my thoughts on this experience brilliantly when he says, “I have a strong belief that we deserve more than a guy who shows up saying he supports education. As a voter, I deserve a person who can tell me how he will support it; even if that means that he disagrees with my beliefs.”
So what do politicians really think supporting education entails? And how can we work to educate them on the issues?