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Going to the mattresses

January 9, 2010

This political action thing is exhausting. It’s not that I’ve never been involved with a project like this before, but I’ve never started it up myself. Yesterday morning, after touching base with a couple of teachers, I sent out an email to about 350 people, names taken from mailings lists I’m on for my neighborhood, our library book group, and Cub Scouts. Within minutes, I started to get responses, both by email and phone. By the end of the day I had 15 people wanting to come and help work and a bunch of others who wanted to be kept informed, but didn’t have time to volunteer. Today the emails kept coming. We’re up to 25 families on board and I’ve delegated a bunch of research tasks and have taken on the more organizational ones myself. I got a call from a school board member who’d already heard about it and wanted to give us some advice for how best to approach the board. I met with some teachers and sent out a news bulletin to the list with the dates of upcoming meetings and a list of things that needed to be done. Amazingly, I have not had one negative comment, not for the unsolicited emails, not for talking with teachers during school hours (prep time, not class time — and it was their idea), not for anything.

This project is exhausting and energizing at the same time. Some of the people really encourage me to keep going with their enthusiasm. Others spur me to keep going to pick up the torch they’ve become too tired and too burnt out to carry. Yesterday, I sat and listened as one woman told me how she couldn’t help because she’s been going to meetings and talking and no one will listen. I told her I feel like the B-string team coming in off the bench. I’m a lot less experienced, but also a lot less bruised. I got off the phone and wondering if I’m up for this. Am I prepared to go hell-bent-for-leather and then lose? Because you have to be willing to lose to win. I firmly believe that. And the next minute, I got an email from a woman with three kids in the program who thanked me for doing this and said she’d had no idea how to find other parents or where to direct her concerns.

And that’s the thing about being a parent of a gifted kid. A lot of the time, you just can’t admit it. You can’t go talk to people on the playground and ask, “Hey, is your kid in the gifted program?” because sometimes they don’t want you to know the answer is no. There’s a certain amount of secrecy about the whole thing. I know the two other kids in AJ’s group, but that’s pretty much it. I think even if we don’t manage to get anything through the board, that we might have accomplished something important just in bringing the parents together.

And then a few minutes later, I got a message sent to the whole list with some excellent advice I’d never thought of from a veteran parent and teacher, who emailed me privately a few minutes later to tell me she wouldn’t be at the meetings because she’s recovering from chemotherapy and can’t be in large groups, but “let’s get the ball rolling!” I emailed her back to thank her for telling me. “I for one, am glad,” I wrote, “that you can work from your computer. You are invaluable.” And then it was back to business.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. freshhell permalink
    January 9, 2010 9:24 am

    I got involved in a similar effort to try to save Dusty’s preschool but the decks had already been stacked against me and decisions had already been made. I lost but I have never regretted fighting for something that important. I’m still very sad that the preschool wasn’t around for Red because she would have greatly benefited from it.

    But…..I say don’t think about losing the battle before you’ve fought it. The fact that you’ve gotten nothing but positive responses means that even if you don’t get what you want, something good will result. A community has been created and people will have been pulled together and that’s never a bad thing.

    Best of luck!

  2. The Lass permalink
    January 9, 2010 11:21 am

    If there is anything at all I can do from here in the way of research or anything else, please let me know. I’d be happy to help.

  3. January 9, 2010 1:39 pm

    I have nothing useful to offer, but I am cheering for you. A 100% positive response is really something, especially with so many people involved.

  4. teranika permalink
    January 9, 2010 2:52 pm

    Yes, excellent for you. Just as freshell puts it – you’ve motivated a community and gotten everyone behind something.

  5. January 9, 2010 3:36 pm

    I do feel like even if we don’t succeed with the board that we’ve already won at something. I’ve been feeling really isolated and it turns out, so have many others. Even if we don’t get what we’re working for, we will be in a much better position. Thanks for all the support.

    I didn’t mean that about losing exactly, freshhell. It’s more that I feel like if you are passionate about something, you will fight for it even if you might lose. If you care less, you may decide not to bother. Does that make any sense? I am willing to fight even if I might lose.

  6. freshhell permalink
    January 9, 2010 3:54 pm

    Yes, that’s my feeling exactly.

  7. crankygirl permalink
    January 9, 2010 4:02 pm

    i’m really glad that you’ve gotten a positive response from people. it’s important that TPTB know that parents are ready to fight for their kids and their services.

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