06 March, 2015

In the Footsteps of Earth Shakers Along the Dirty Sacred River

[Link to the previous post]
The Louisville Teach-In
I couldn't do anything like this without her love, support, and spark.

When I decided to re-enter the harrowed halls of higher education , it was not without some hesitation. None of the problems that caused me to leave had been resolved... and, as a matter of fact, had gotten worse. The corporate take over of higher education has essentially infiltrated every aspect of the grand institution to the point that the powermongers are getting their fingers into the classroom. Because that corporate mentality dictates that money trickles up while shit and labor trickle down.

Being a passionate educator is doing the Good Work of the World. I believe that as firmly as I believe that Capitalism does more harm than good that the only thing the government ought to be doing is divesting itself of power and dumping all of the money wasted on congressional salaries into schools, hospitals, homes for the homeless, jobs for the jobless, and help for the helpless. I also believe that the corporate take over of education is nothing short of an attempt to undo the last bits of Democracy existing in our grand corporatocracy.

When I decided to re-enter higher education, I promised myself that I would do more than be an armchair anarchist, more than some philosophical fondant, the acceptably compromised and disaffected liberal -- that niche of teachers who made me as sick to my bones as the neofascists out at Arizona State University. It's not enough to wear the hat, to talk the talk of (r)evolution.

I knew I'd have to put up or shut up.

 Me at the Teach-In Courtesy @ElizabethLGlass

I've been keeping my ear to the ground to get a sense of noise. Kentucky is a notoriously anti-union state and it's only getting worse with the Randian/McConnell push for "right-to-work"* legislation. Fear of reprisal and job loss keeps a lot of union-minded teachers quiet while the Libertarians strut around misleading people into believing that all unions are bad and that the power paradigm cannot be shifted. In other words, folks are adopting the same attitude that made the Middle Ages so fun and full of warmth.

When I heard the rumblings of National Adjunct Walk-Out Day (#NAWD) I knew that was an opportunity to finally start having the discussion in public that I'd been having in group offices, Facebook feeds, emails, and in bars for more than a few years.  I knew it would be a hard way to go all by my lonesome.

But I knew I wasn't a lone. Not really. Amanda, true love of my heart, cast her lot in with me knowing full well my inclinations. When I told her about #nawd and my intention to organize some event, she immediately thought it was good idea.

FW Kate. Courtesy, Patrick Danner
It wasn't long before I met other like-minded and action-oriented folks, Fellow Worker Kate Lafferty,
her boyfriend FW Patrick. I met Elizabeth Glass, who is no stranger to tilting at windmills and other large social causes. When Kate and I started talking about #nawd -- to be honest, I don't remember who brought it up -- I immediately discovered a friend who would do more than talk. There is nothing more comforting for a would-be organizer than to find other like-minded people.

We not only got the college president to vocally and publicly support the Teach-In, we organized simultaneous events at two campuses; got endorsements from the Kentucky IWW, Kentucky Jobs with Justice, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, and the SEIU; the put together materials so that our colleagues could present in their classes on the day of; attracted enough attention to merit the attention of one local media outlet, as well as being included on the #NAWD map

We spoke to a decent sized crowd at JCTCS, and there was a small meeting at the University of Louisville, led by FW Reagan and Daniel Runnels, a part-timer in the Spanish Department.  It was an important and declarative first step in what is nothing short of (r)evolution.

Margaret Mead is often quoted as saying "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." I'd say that's about right.
*Right-to-work: really means the right of the boss to fire you without reason, pay you less than what you're worth, and strip you of your right to free assembly in a union.
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