This post is not sanctioned by ROPE's board. This is a personal post I have wanted to make for weeks.....
One week ago Wednesday, I couldn't go on. I mean, I got out of bed knowing I needed to dump my kids again to go to the Capitol for filing day (we wanted to be there to distribute our thoughts on Common Core to the new filers for public office) but my heart wasn't in it. I dutifully fulfilled my household morning chores and got out the door with the kids in tow complaining about having to sit at the Capitol - yet again - and either wait for me to finish my work or for their Mimi to come pick them up.
Once we got there, I got them seated at chairs around a table and turned toward our group outside the doors to the new senate offices on the second floor. As I walked toward them, I turned around one more time to check on the kids. Betty (12) had school work, Coleman (nearly 12) had his MP3 player and Sam (9) had - as usual - Lego's. All of them sat there with such dejected - and bored - looks on their faces it made me feel like the worst mother in the world - like I was dumping puppies along the side of a deserted road. In fact, it made me really wonder what in the world I was doing.
For four years now while ROPE has worked to educate people about Common Core, these poor kids have been shuffled here and there - dumped off on Mimi, Grandmama and Grandpapa, neighbors, aunts - anyone who would/could take them - so I could go to the Capitol for a meeting or a rally, or to speak. Though I began to homeschool all three of them two years ago, they have hardly been in their books since January as my fight to stop Common Core has escalated to a blood sport and I have been 'needed' here and there seemingly 24/7.
That week I had a speaking engagement in the city Monday night (necessitating arrangements to get Betty back and forth from tumbling), Tuesday night I drove to Claremore to speak (I cooked early to have dinner on the table for everyone before I left), Wednesday night we had church, Thursday night both Coleman and Sam had baseball games (necessitating great planning since they were completely on either side of the city), Friday night I had plans to attend the GOP Delegation Dinner, Saturday morning I had plans to attend the GOP rally and Saturday night was the wedding of one of my husband's friends.
I had also been up nearly every night until well after midnight researching and writing blogs to show legislators why Oklahoma needs to keep PASS and dump our contract with Measured Progress since these messages need to be reinforced once we leave and aren't there 'on site' to lobby. In fact, most of the last several months of this year I've been unable to get up in the am for my regular workout because I've been too tired to get up after being up late writing.
Despite all this, I still had laundry to do, homeschool lessons to start, phone calls to make and return, articles to read, emails to create and send, a turkey pen that needed to be finished, a pen for two new puppies that needed to be built and a garden to get in. After Wednesday, I knew something had to give. I knew I simply couldn't carry on. More than that - I knew I didn't want to carry on. Consequently, I canned the events of Friday night and Saturday morning - and a number of ROPE duties since.
Oddly, it was just several weeks previously, I had given serious thought to filing for State Superintendent at the last minute. I simply cannot see Janet Barresi re-elected knowing what I know about the machinations of the state Department of Ed since she took office. Though I like Joy Hoffmeister a great deal as a person, few people have studied the NCLB waiver, State Longitudinal Database System and Common Core in depth, thus I had worked myself into believing I needed to run to do whatever I could do to make sure this current elitist-inspired-micromanagement-heavy-education-'reform'-nonsense stopped.
When I brought the idea up to my husband - this better-than-I-deserve man who has carried on in my continued absence over the years raising kids, cooking meals and folding laundry all while cheer leading my efforts - reminded me that our kids wouldn't be kids for long, but said he would support me if I felt I really needed to take that hill. My mother told me absolutely no, for the same reason my best friends told me no - I would more than likely stir the ire of Dr. Barresi further, inciting a media campaign I couldn't hope to challenge without money - and I wouldn't have any. It was too late in the season and the only money to which we'd have access would come from individual donors while Barresi self-funds her campaign in the millions.
I think this was one of the final straws on this camel's back.
How many elections are truly won by the grassroots anymore? Some to be sure, but most individuals from the rank and file taxpayer order who deign to enter to role of 'public servant' are bloodied and bruised by ugly and outright mean-spirited campaigns run by monied individuals and groups such as the Chamber of Commerce who simply love the status quo (I'm thinking specifically of the Paul Blair/Clark Jolley Senate race last cycle) more than they care about the Constitution, or Liberty or Republican principles of government. The election machine has become one that chews up and spits out not only the Founders original ideals for the process, but the very individuals it was created to protect and serve. This infuriates me. It actually infuriates me to have to throw plans to run for an elected office out the window because another candidate could/would attempt to sully my name just to win an election, hurting my family and the work I've done over the years in the process.
Since I began my foray into politics in 2008, I haven't been blinded to this notion, but I guess after years of seeing regular everyday folks getting trashed in the name of politics - or shut out Iof the process altogether by those who have more money than they - I'm just sick of it. But I'm also sick of banging my head against this wall while most everyone else is sitting in their easy chair watching with bated breath to see who wins American Idol.
The other straw was exactly that...this last Tuesday, I was invited to speak in Norman. I was going to speak on Common Core and a bit of its history and where our current bill (HB3399) is now. Barely 20 people showed up and only two sets of those were actual parents with kids in school. Where was everybody else? Where were all the other parents? God bless these families who attended, but for Pete sakes, there are thousands of parents whose children go to Norman public schools. Where were any of them? Do they care? If not, why am I leaving my kids at home and my chores undone so my husband who works a full time job and then has to come home and do my work for me, just to tell people about something they clearly care little about - for free? Yes, everything I do, from research to travel to writing to lobbying to attending conferences - is all done for free unless someone donates money to the cause. In fact, all of us at ROPE use our own household budgets to cover our expenses. We certainly appreciate those who have donated their hard-earned money over the years, but our expenses have always exceeded our donations.
Yes, over the last year, we have made great strides in our attempt to Stop Common Core in Oklahoma. We've had people attend functions at the Capitol in numbers we've never had previously, yet of all those hundreds of faithful who have showed up for our functions this year, nearly 10,000 attended a rally at the Capitol under the auspices of providing more funding for public schools. This frustrated me enough to write about it, yet when I did, I was condemned by teachers (some of whom felt so angry at me they deemed it necessary to use profanity - others who unsubscribed from our email list) who were offended that I was frustrated. Yes, I've been called names and berated for my work previously and I could care less what the Oklahoman, the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce and Stand On Children think about me, but I've never been berated by teachers before - on our own Facebook page - by people we are trying to help - for free. How may people really want to do a job where you're subjected to an emotional beating for free?
True, some of the attendance at our functions has to be due to the seeds we have been planting since 2010, but a lot of it is the fact that this is the first year Common Core has really been implemented in schools to any real degree since next year is set for full implementation. Many parents were awakened by Oklahoma's 3rd grade reading retention law - many by testing - but whatever the reason, most were activated as the problems came knocking on their door. ROPE didn't awaken them - we may have been here to answer questions in some cases - but I honestly feel we have 'awakened' few parents over the years.
I know how this sounds. At least I can imagine. I'm sure it sounds like a bunch of whining and complaining about something I don't have to do if I don't want to do it. Well sure. This was a blow-off-steam kind of a blog. However, the disheartened burnout phase is real - mitigated by the very real circumstances described above.
I'm not about to quit yet - we haven't gotten HB3399 across the finish line and a new Superintendent (and hopefully a new governor) - but it may take a while to get the wind beneath my wings again. Thinking about the prospect of the next time I have to drop my kids off to do something for ROPE makes me cringe as much as the house, school and farm work piling up while I'm doing it - but it's more than that. Until people in Oklahoma (and America, frankly) wake up to the clear and present danger posed by our ever-increasing government and our ever-shrinking sphere of liberty, we're toast. In fact, we're fast becoming Rome and the pressure of trying to bring in water while Nero fiddles and the plebs file into the Vomitorium, or the Colosseum to watch lions eat Christians, is exhausting.