A morning inspired by Pete Seeger

On this morning of Obama’s State of the Union address, I hear that Pete Seeger has died. I immediately hear a banjo in my mind.

I think of Bruce Springsteen. I remember Pete leading the country, along with Bruce, at the Lincoln Memorial at President Obama’s inaugural concert. I was so proud of our country, so filled with optimism about the direction this anti-war, progressive president might take our country.

Six years and a full election cycle later I’m proud of our president’s Health Care initiative, but I’m mostly disappointed. I imagine Mr. Seeger is too for President Obama’s drone strikes, continued militarism, corporate bailouts, and privatization of our public schools.

Twitter asks what I hope to hear from our President tonight. I’ve learned from five previous State of the Union speeches that high hopes will lead to great disappointment. It’s not like it was during Bush when every sentence brought offense. No, with this POTUS I have to listen carefully because it is the subtext I need to decipher, particularly in the education section of his speech. He will surely address accountability in our schools which really means disempowering our unions and rewarding teachers based on test scores. He might say we must not teach to the test, but he will likely emphasize just how these crucial these tests are.

So, before I head to work in my union red this morning, I listen to Pete Seeger, and I’m reminded why I write, why I’m a union activist, why I teach in a pubic school, and why I’m compelled stand up for what I believe, even when it gets lonely. 

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