16 January 2012

Why all the hate?

I have been happily volunteering as a legislative chair for the PTSA at my kids' school.  It is this political goulash lumping everything I love and hate about politics all rolled up into the same overwhelming experience.

The representatives from each PTSA get together annually to set the agenda for the Washington State PTA (WSPTA) at their assembly.  The process is dripping in parliamentary procedure and coffee stains as the most meaningless dribble is debated to no end.  Sure, that is terrible, but the people there are genuinely enthusiastic about doing everything possible to improving safety and education for our kids, even if they cannot agree on how to accomplish the goal.  We talked about having consistent school signs for motorists (duh!), shifting focus away from standardized testing, getting more funding for our school districts and ... Charter Schools.

You know how nationally our political parties love America, want to help the citizens and are there to worth together to improve our country?  They do.  But they also seem to want to kill each other in the process.  That same thing happens all the way down the political chain including within the education advocacy group.

A measure to have the WSPTA support charter schools and the vote was ridiculously close - so close that they had to close the doors and hand count every single vote.  The measure passed by less votes than can be counted on two hands.  The result has been non-ending war between PTA members everyone in the Evergreen State.  They beat each other up in forumsmeetings, blog posts, message boards, email lists - you name it and you can find them hating each other.

It all highlights the thing I cannot stand about politics: Absolutes.  It is either my way or your way and screw you for thinking there is a middle ground.  If you lose one battle why is it necessary to then question the process that brought that result?  Why not accept the result and try to focus energy on (a) finding a way that it can work or (b) work constructively to fix the situation that brought a result you did not like?  Instead we have never ending discussions questioning the credentials of individuals, institutions, money trails, voting procedures, motives -- it just never ends.

Despite all of my whining, we are truly improving education for our children and recently won a Supreme Court ruling in our state that will guarantee additional funding.  It is an amazing victory that I am proud to be part of .. I just wish these otherwise wonderful advocates would do more celebrating and less hating.