|Dinner with giants|
It seemed every 5 minutes I was meeting someone - like at lunch yesterday a woman came over to say she liked what I said at one panel about how we have to not only fight the deformers but our own union leaders - something I will have a lot more to say about in followups - one of the reasons I went down there was to check the pulse of people in NPE on how they view Randi and Lilly and their respective AFT and NEA. But more on this in tonight's post. Back to the woman, a teacher in Albuquerque. We decided to have lunch together and I learned so much from her about a nascent caucus running against the leadership and we found we had someone we knew in common - someone I got to hang with at the UCORE conference in Newark last August - a great activist in New Mexico who was very active in promoting our film.
How can you go wrong getting to chat with Leonie Haimson, Carol Burris, Katie Lapham, Michael Elliot, Fred Smith and so many others I am blanking on. I hung out with Beth Dimino and through her got to hang with the amazing Long Island and Westechester NYSAPE/Opt-Out leaders like Terry Kalb, Lisa Rudley, Jeannette Deutermann and new friends like Leslie Rose and Marlene Natale, a great mixture of parents and teachers. Seeing former Brooklyn parent activist Khem Irby and meeting her husband Melvin, now active in North Carolina, on Friday night and over the weekend recalled the days of GEM activism. And I met BATS galore from Ohio, Virginia and got to chat with BAT leader Marla Kilfoyle.
Since BATs are not big here in the city I hadn't realized just how much of an impact they have had in certain states where teachers who felt isolated have found a home. I have to do a separate post on the growing BAT influence - I think I am now an official BAT - I have my BAT pin.
Saturday night dinner at Jimmy V's in the Sheraton - each table seemed to have power people. In one corner a big crew from Chicago. In another a bit BAT crowd. At our table, Carrol Burris and the big opt out crew mostly from Long Island.
Everyone seemed to feel so good to be in the company of friendly forces - in essence leaders and ground troops in the battle over public education. There were so many great conversations and insights and I want to get some of them down before they disappear from my brain. I was so busy I didn't have time to blog like I wanted to or even take video like I intended. The workshops and panel discussions were overloaded with too many good choices.
Well, vacation over. I think I am scheduled to go to a school to speak about the elections one day this week and tomorrow I am picking up thousands of election leaflets and Wed is the DA and the PEP and Friday we have 25 people coming for Passover - and I have to be at the theater soon to help with construction of the set - and - and - and - jeez, I should spent a few more days in the car.