I am pretty sure that in the days before a certain artificial holiday I am supposed to be actively promoting my book about looking for love (and letting it find you).
But as much as I care about Are You My Boyfriend?, and as much as I believe in its ability to entertain and uplift others, this #thankyouthursday I am grateful for something else.
I am grateful for public education.
And really, it’s not much of a stretch to attribute the success of #AYMBF to the importance of public education.
My K–12 experience in the public education system fundamentally shaped who I am as a writer.
My second grade teacher told me I had talent as a storyteller, and she conspired with my third grade teacher to make sure my ability was encouraged.
By the time I hit fifth grade I knew I could be a published author—my whole class created books. In junior high my aspirations rose even higher, the support of a particular teacher boosting my confidence so high that I didn’t hesitate to join the newspaper staff when I hit high school.
And what a turning point that was: thanks to the leadership of my journalism mentor, the incomparable Carol Richtsmeier, I gained professional-level experience at the Eagle Eye, which helped me gain admission to the best journalism school in the country, which helped me get a publishing job in New York, which set the stage for my dreams of authorship to become reality.
So, yeah, public education is important.
I am worried that the newly (barely) confirmed Education Secretary does not agree.
I am not worried for kids like me (i.e., kids whose parents, push comes to shove, can afford to make sure they get a quality education). And I am relieved that DeVos’s appointment is largely symbolic, at least on the K–12 front, since most education funding comes from the state and local levels.
But I am deeply concerned about the symbolism: appointing a figurehead who prioritizes privitization is in direct conflict with values of inclusiveness.
America is supposed to be a place where ALL people—not just those with enough money—have access to liberty and justice, which can’t be truly be had without education.
Of course, those ideals have never really been true in America; white, male property-owners had all the power from the get-go, and still today, wealth goes a long way.
But I nonetheless believe we can be better. We ARE better than we were two centuries ago, and just because we are experiencing some temporary setbacks in leadership today doesn’t mean we can’t change what happens tomorrow.
I am so grateful I was able to receive a quality public education. I know not everyone gets one, and I am worried that it will get harder before it gets easier when it comes to ensuring that all Americans have access to the educations they deserve.
But I will not worry too much.
We can speak up, and we can persist, and we can use the education we have to help make it available for everyone.
Love > fear,
p.s. Okay, but since it really is peak promotion time for Are You My Boyfriend?, allow me to indulge in one tiny pitch: If you know anyone who might appreciate a little mood boost on February 14, consider giving them a book that I wrote for that very purpose.