Thursday, May 8, 2014

If You DO Nothing, NOTHING Happens


Yesterday I was on our family's monthly shopping adventure.  As I waited on line at one of the stores, a woman standing behind me looked at me tentatively and very quietly asked, "Aren't you that Common Core lady?"

This isn't the first time this has happened actually - I think it's because the white hair makes me easily recognizable - but it's always odd when it does.

"Yes, that would be me...", I laughed, as my son tried to hide behind the cart.

"I just really appreciate what you're doing to try and stop Common Core," she said quietly, but fervently.

She then turned to the woman she was with and began briefly explaining Common Core - that it was a national take-over of education and that it would help to quash parental involvement in education.

"You know, we're up against another hard deadline," I felt compelled to say.  "The bill should be going to the floor of the House today or tomorrow and if we don't tell our legislators to dictate the use of our old PASS standards and PASS-aligned tests during the time new standards are written, it will be very hard not to end up with revised Common Core standards as Oklahoma's NEW standards."

"Really?"

The woman seemed concerned, so I couldn't help but ask, "Have you contacted your state Senator and Representative to tell them you don't want Common Core?"

"No," she answered, as though she wasn't really sure that was her job.

"Well, if you don't call and make your voice heard," I explained, "we could end up with no change in Oklahoma's standards at all excepting the name."

At that, I realized I would be late picking up the other two kids at band, so I exited the conversation with that admonition and a friendly smile and ran for the door.

It has been said that only a very small fraction of the population participated in America's Independence from the British in the 1700's.  I suppose that's the nature of human beings - a desire for self preservation of not only the corporal body but the soul.  Most Americans can't grasp the notion of incurring bodily harm asserting their liberties, yet they also seem unable to overcome the emotional barriers of embarrassment or possible consternation resulting from conversation with an elected official in commission of their civic duties as well.

It seems there are now way too many categories into which Americans fall on the citizenship spectrum:

  • Those that don't vote at all because the whole notion of political involvement is now blase in the least and despicable at its worst.  Besides, there are 650 TV channels and major sporting franchises on which to spend the majority of their time.
  • No information voters base their votes on TV commercials and the physical appearance of a candidate.  Anything outside of, "Gee, he's cute and seems nice", are non-starters.  They have no clue who their elected officials are in any category.
  • Low information voters believe their vote solves every issue.  In fact, voting is their only civic duty.  I couldn't possibly count the number of times I've heard people say - when I ask them if they've contacted their legislator - "No, I don't call them.  I voted them in so I expected them to (a. do what they said they would do) (b. follow the Party line) (c. do what I want them to do)."  They may know their Congressman and Senator, but have no idea who sits in their district chairs at the state capitol.
  • Engaged voters are up-to-date on current issues.  They know what they want and they even know which politicians are going to get them there.  They've studied voting records and read intently about their subject and the issues.  They will tell their friends for whom to vote and put signs in their yard.  They might even give money to a candidate.  They know the names of nearly all their elected officials.
  • Active voters are not only current on political issues and who is and isn't voting the way they want, but these people make phone calls and office visits not only to their legislators, but others as well.  They know all their elected representatives and are on a first name basis with each.  They get heaps of pushcards in the mail from active candidates and might even be consulted by a political candidate in their district.  These are the people who help their legislators make decisions in their best interest.
Pop quiz.  In which category should EVERY American citizen be today?  Answer:  THE LAST.

Where are you?  It's important to know.  Those that do, change the world.  Those that complain change nothing.  Now get out there and change the world by contacting your representatives and tell them to STOP COMMON CORE!