Winter Is Coming – POTUS and The Game Of Thrones

Winter is coming.

No, seriously. Winter is coming. December 21st. Winter solstice. Happens every year.

However, for you Game of Thrones fans, winter has been coming for quite a while. The Wildlings have crossed through the wall, strange alliances made, and preparations for the coming apocalyptic standoff between the living and dead.

It’s weird stuff. Kind of like 99.5 starting its Christmas music slate for the holiday season a couple of days after Donald Trump won election as the POTUS.

Winter is coming.

The parallels between George R. R. R. R. R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series and reality really are not hard to forge. In fact, they are almost prophetic. Think about it for a minute. We have had families vying for control of the White House here in the past few years. House Bush, House Clinton, House Baratheon, House Targaryen, etc.

See, it’s easy.

GOTR is really a lot like the metaphorical representation of the American political terrain. There is the struggle for power by gathering as much support as possible. Strange alliances are made and resources mobilized to defeat factions vying for control of the Iron Throne. Sorry, the Oval Office. There are:

  • Powerful Women. The number of women leading forces in GOTR cannot be overlooked especially when a woman won the popular vote for the election on November 8th. Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons, doesn’t really have to worry about elections. That whole “can’t be burned” thing and the control of dragons is actually more powerful than a ballot box. Trump would love those dragons. He probably thinks he could defeat ISIS with them.
  • Religious Voters. The role of organized religion in our current election season was again huge. With the evangelical vote and the backing of people like Jerry Falwell, Jr., Trump carried certain segments of the population. Imagine the power the High Sparrow could give a presidential candidate. Even the Many-Faced God has an effect over people.
  • Sexual Improprieties. Many people have called GOTR “medieval porn with a plot.” I present to you “locker room” talk and the rumors of affairs by people associated with both parties.
  • Wild Weather. Grayscale is probably caused by climate change.
  • WALLS! No further explanation needed.
  • Downcast People. There was the “Basket of Deplorables” and The Unsullied.
  • Politics. Again, no further explanation needed.
  • Hair. Would Trump look like Varys if a gust of wind came and blew his combover away?
  • Outsiders. Trump is not an established politician. But then again, Trump was not brought back to life like Jon Snow was.
  • House Signs. Trump will have one. Trust me.
  • Dragons. GOTR has real ones. Our political scene has lots of people who spew venom and fire.
  • Prophets and Seers? Bran is the Three-Eyed Raven. Nate Silver really sucked at predicting the results of this election.
  • Mottoes. “A Lannister Pays His Debts.” “Make America Great Again.”
  • Causalities. In GOTR, no one is safe. Especially the good guys. In today’s political climate, no one is safe either.
  • Doppelgangers. If you can’t see how people from today’s political campaigns could easily be spoofs of characters like Littlefinger, Varys, Brienne of Tarth, Cersei, Joffrey, and Melisandre, then you need a good two weeks of binge watching.
  • Subplots. Every character has subplots in GOTR. That’s why the books are so damn long. But think of Bridgegate, Whitewater, “Grab Them by the *****,” settling on the moon, etc.
  • The Emasculated. Theon Greyjoy aside, think of the political careers that have now been rendered ineffectual. Chris Christie anyone? Sure, he will probably get a post, but he may have lost any cred in Jersey.
  • Beards. Lots of them in Game of Thrones. None really in the POTUS ELECTION but it’s also “No Shave November.” You never know.
  • Hands. Jaime Lannister has a fake hand. He is also the “Hand of the King”. Donald Trump’s hand size have been called into question.
  • Honey Badgers. Trump has run for president before. You cannot ever doubt his resiliency and pursuit. And you can’t keep him down. Same with Hillary Clinton. Tough as nails. But try putting out the fires of the Clegane brothers (“The Mountain” and “The Hound”).
  • Bathrooms. Remember that scene when Tyrion shot Tywin while he was answering Nature’s call?  Yep. That reminds all of us that even the most powerful person of the free world has to answer to Nature. However, I imagine there is Secret Service around.

But there are some unique characteristics of certain characters that Game of Thrones has that cannot be translated into our current reality. And that is the loyalty that some of the more endearing characters in GOTR possess. And if I was running for political office, I would want them on my side.

  • Give me a Tyrion Lannister who is smart, savvy, dry, and committed to at least make you love him as a character. He possesses intangibles that no campaign slogan could ever embody. That and he defies his appearance. And he is by far the most intriguing person in the entire series.
  • Give me Arya Stark who is tough as nails and thinks for herself and completely devoted to a purpose.
  • Give me Jorah Mormont and Davos Seaworth who see the need to combine forces for a greater good.
  • Give me Samwell Tarly because not all heroes look the same way. That and he reads a lot. Always good.
  • Give me Hodor. Enough said. Yep, I cried at that one.
  • And throw in a couple of those dragons. They do kick ass.

Yes, Winter is coming. Go hug your family and live life.

gotr

Why The Screwtape Letters Matter Now – OR, What C.S. Lewis Said About The Current Election

There is a Facebook posting circulating that places the current political climate (notably Donald Trump) in the context of C.S. Lewis’s iconic book The Screwtape Letters.

Most people may know C.S. Lewis as the writer of The Chronicles of Narnia, seven books of Christian allegory that chronicle the battle of good versus evil and filled many a young mind with adventure.

In fact, the book is dedicated to another writer of spiritual allegory – J.R.R. Tolkien.

The book itself is a collection of fictional epistles penned by a “senior” devil named Screwtape to his nephew, Wormwood, advising him on the best tactics to use on humans to bring their everlasting souls to hell.

screwtape-letters

And since Trump called Hillary Trump the devil in the second debate, it only seems fair to explore how others depict the ways and means of the demonic entities that reside in hell.

Here is the Facebook posting mentioned beforehand:

screwtape-letters-2

And it is fabulous. On point. Totally in sync with the original message.

But it is not an exact quote. It emulates Lewis’s style – his word choice, imagery, details, language, syntax, etc. But the closing “Keep up the good work” is not used in the actual book. Screwtape always ends his letters with “Your affectionate uncle.”

But that’s beside the point because the point is already made.

However, there are many other actual quotes from the book itself that are applicable to the outrageous campaign that one particular candidate is running.

This one from Letter I immediately caught my eye because it frames humankind in such a way that Wormwood can begin his apprenticeship in soul-stealing with a good blueprint of human nature.

“[M]an has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to having a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn’t think of doctrines as primarily “true” or “false,” but as “academic” or “practical,” “outworn” or “contemporary,” “conventional” or “ruthless.” Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church. Don’t waste time trying to make him think that materialism is true! Make him think it is strong or stark or courageous—that it is the philosophy of the future. That’s the sort of thing he cares about.” 

If one was to rhetorical analyze this passage solely for the diction then surely certain words would be highlighted: “incompatible philosophies”, “doesn’t think”, ”outworn”, “ruthless”, “jargon”, and “materialism” to name a few.

Certainly a man who says one thing and then denies it later depending on the audience certainly qualifies as someone who has “incompatible philosophies.” And certainly the words “materialism” and Donald Trump collide in any sentence.

But it is the two-dimensional aspect that this particular paragraph casts spiritually vulnerable humankind within. The use of the multiple “or’s” show that those susceptible to being lured by the dark side see the world in black and white when God created such a palette for us to enjoy.

Donald Trump, in my opinion, is the most two-dimensional presidential candidate in history. He resides in extremes – his narcissistic self-aggrandizement to his paranoid conspiracy theories. His lavish wealth worn on his sleeve to his hidden hairline and tax returns. His late night tweets to his name calling in debates.

And when he swings from one side to the other he nevers stops in the middle to consider that the extremes aren’t where most people exist.

The word “jargon” from the Lewis excerpt is most appropriate. Trump has used his catchphrases and “terms” to create a comfort zone that clouds reality.

  • “Rigged”
  • “Build a Wall”
  • “Lock her up”
  • “Crooked”
  • “Huge”
  • “We don’t win anymore”
  • “Miss Piggie”
  • “Stupid”
  • “Loser”

Those words don’t sound inclusive. They sound exclusive. They don’t unite. They divide.

But the last part of the excerpt really defines Trump for me.

“Don’t waste time trying to make him think that materialism is true! Make him think it is strong or stark or courageous—that it is the philosophy of the future. That’s the sort of thing he cares about.”

His presumed wealth despite the lack of released tax returns and his opulence seem to give Trump his plastic confidence, the same confidence that is shaken when he is confronted with the truth, especially in the form of a smart lady.

C.S. Lewis’s book was originally published through the magazine The Guardian in 1942. Nazism. Hitler. WWII.

The Brits at that time knew a thing or two about resiliency, fighting for those who did not live on their soil, and staring at a foe refusing to give in.

And C.S. Lewis’s spiritually apologetic satire is so relevant today, especially with a reinvigorated animosity brewing between the U.S and Russia and a division in our own country based on “either/or” dictates.

America is a field day for Screwtape and all of his nephews (and nieces).

Makes you wonder who you want controlling the red button.

Besides, Aslan doesn’t have a combover.

narnia-3-aslan-111705

Help Me Lord! – Who Really is Lucifer?Because Supposedly He or She is Running For President

Remember that show To Tell The Truth? Three people sit behind a desk on a stage all pretending to be the same person or entity or whatever. Some people start asking questions and before you know it they choose who the “real” one is in hopes of winning a prize.

The show is coming back for a limited run on ABC hosted by Anthony Anderson. Should be funny, but you would need to see the 1950’s version to get the real premise for it.

But I would like to suggest another possible episode in the recent running of the show. This one involves Lucifer.

Yep, the Devil, Satan, the ArchFiend, the serpent of Genesis, the protagonist of Paradise Lost, and the lover of Saddam Hussein in the South Park movie.

“Why?” you may ask in reference to this particular episode involving the Darkest of Demons.

Actually, it’s not my fault. So many other people are making claims to have seen Lucifer in human form, especially when it concerns the presidential election. And this is an important election. We need to see who the real Lucifer is. So, here are the contestants.

Ted Cruz

devil1

Called a “Lucifer in the Flesh” by John Boehner, Ted Cruz would be the first person on the panel. According to a CNN.com report from April 29th,

“Lucifer in the flesh,” Boehner told Stanford’s David Kennedy, a history professor emeritus, according to the Stanford Daily. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

High praise for this panel.

Hillary Clinton

devil2

Ben Carson really only alluded to an allegiance to Lucifer on Clinton’s part. He said at the Republican National Convention,

“Let me tell you something about Saul Alinsky,” he said. “He wrote a book called ‘Rules for Radicals.’ On the dedication page, it acknowledges Lucifer, the original radical who gained his own kingdom.”

Carson asked, “So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model someone who acknowledges Lucifer?”

But, Trump actually called her the devil. Last night (August 1st) he stated at a rally in reference to Bernie Sanders endorsing Clinton,

“He would’ve been a hero,” Trump said. “But he made a deal with the devil. She’s the devil. He made a deal with the devil.”

South Park Devil

devil3

Actually, you would need to see the movie to understand all of what happens in this equal-opportunity offender of a film. Don’t take kids. Their vocabulary will grow. I mean GROW!

So there you have the panel. And you and I are the contestants because we are voters. But something is amiss here.

I would have to take into account that great discussion in the movie O Brother! Where Art Thou? About what the devil looks like.

devil4

Here’s that part of the script with Pete, Everett, and Tommy Johnson, who happened to sell his soul to the devil.

                               PETE

               I always wondered-what’s the devil

               look like?

                               EVERETT

               Well, of course there’s all manner

               of lesser imps’n demons, Pete, but

               the Great Satan hisself is red and

               scaly with a bifurcated tail and

               carries a hayfork.

                               TOMMY

               Oh no! No suh! He’s white-white as

               you folks, with mirrors for eyes an’ 

               a big hollow voice an’ allus travels

               with a mean old hound.

 

Well, that pretty much takes away Clinton. She’s not a “he.” The South Park devil isn’t white. He’s out. So that leaves Ted Cruz. But he doesn’t have a big hollow voice. More nasal really.

Maybe, just maybe it would be someone else.

devil5

I know. It’s too easy. White, hollow voice, hound….

Actually, I don’t believe that Trump is the devil either. The devil wouldn’t need a comb over.

There is a common idiom that declares that “the devil is in the details.” And that rings very true to me. Just Google “devil in the details” and you see this first.

The idiom “the devil is in the detail” refers to a catch or mysterious element hidden in the details, and derives from the earlier phrase “God is in the detail” expressing the idea that whatever one does should be done thoroughly; i.e. details are important.

Lack of details and lack of specificity are more than important in this presidential election. And when a person refuses to give those details or does not back up a claim with data and analysis, then something is hidden intentionally.

Like tax records.

I look forward to the debates. I am willing to skip the NFL games for them.

The Compare and Contrast Paper – EdWeek.org’s Interesting Article

 

This past week Education Week released an online compare and contrast the candidates on all things education. It is entitled “Compare the Candidates: Where Do Clinton and Trump Stand on Education?” You may find it here – http://www.edweek.org/ew/section/multimedia/president-candidates-trump-clinton-education.html.

When my wife shared this particular link with me, I imagined that I had already known where each candidate stood on issues such as school choice and common core, but this investigation went further including issues such as bullying, college access school construction, spending, and teacher quality.

When you click on any of the “topics” you will see a bullet list of points made by each candidate at the bottom of the screen.

edweek1

The compare / contrast bullet points are very helpful, but the quotes that serve as a prelude for each candidate’s position offer a very clear perspective in the major difference between Clinton and Trump when it pertains to public schools.

edweek2

And that difference is fostering an environment of collaboration versus one of competition.

The following table is a list of the quotes that were drawn from the EdWeek.org article for particularly hot-button items concerning pubic education in North Carolina. I have highlighted (rather bolded) key buzzwords and phrases that appear in those quotes. When those buzzwords are put together in groups according to the candidates, something very stark appears – the difference between collaboration and competition.

Issue Clinton’s Words Trump’s Words
Academic Standards “When I think about the really unfortunate argument that’s been going on around common core, it’s very painful, because the common core started off as a bipartisan effort—it was actually nonpartisan. It wasn’t politicized, it was to try to come up with a core of learning that we might expect students to achieve across our country.”

—Community college speech as reported by The Washington Post, April 2015

 

“So, common core is a total disaster. We can’t let it continue.”

—Facebook video

 

Bullying “Bullying has always been around, but it seems to have gotten somehow easier and more widespread because of social media and the Internet. … I think we all need to be aware of the pain and the anguish that bullying can cause.” —Iowa town hall even No specific quote from

Trump. However, The Southern Poverty Law Center, an advocacy group, recently cited an unscientific survey of teachers it said shows that Trump’s campaign rhetoric is linked to more students feeling unsafe or singled out by their peers.

 

Early-Childood Education “It’s hard enough to pay for any preschool or child care at all, let alone the quality programs that help kids develop and flourish. Funding for these opportunities has not kept up with changing times and rising demand.”

—Campaign appearance in New Hampshire

 

No specific quote from Trump. Hasn’t laid out any thoughts about early education as a Republican presidential candidate
School Choice “I have for many years now, about 30 years, supported the idea of charter schools, but not as a substitute for the public schools, but as a supplement for the public schools.”

—Town hall meeting, South Carolina

 

“Education reformers call this school choice, charter schools, vouchers, even opportunity scholarships. I call it competition—the American way.”

—The America We Deserve

 

School Spending No specific quote from Clinton. However, Has said sufficient education funding is necessary to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act. Has called for new investments in computer science education, early-childhood education, college access, and more.

Wants to double funding for the Education Innovation and Research grants, the successor to the $120 million Investing in Innovation program.

 

“We’re number one in terms of cost per pupil by a factor of, worldwide, by a factor of many. Number two is so far behind, forget it.”

—CNN town hall

 

Teacher Quality “I want all educators, at every stage of your careers, to know that they’ll be able to keep learning, improving, innovating. And that goes for administrators, too.”

—Speech to National Education Association

 

“Our public schools have grown up in a competition-free zone surrounded by a very high union wall.”

—The America We Deserve

 

Testing Tests should go back to their original purpose, giving useful information to teachers and parents. … But when you’re forced to teach to a test, our children miss out on some of the most valuable lessons.”

—Speech to National Education Association

 

No quote.

 

With Clinton’s quotes you see words and phrases like “”bipartisanship”, “aware of the pain and anguish” of bullying, “opportunities”, “all”, charter schools that should not “as a substitute for the public schools”, and that “tests should go back to their original purpose.”

With Trump, words and phrases include “disaster”, “competition”, “wall”, and “forget it.”

I have been very consistent in my views concerning collaboration and competition in the public service arena. And I will state it again as I have before with Rep. Skip Stam here in NC,

 “Effective public schools are collaborative communities, not buildings full of contractors who are determined to outperform others for the sake of money. And when teachers are forced to focus on the results of test scores, teaching ceases from being a dynamic relationship between student and teacher, but becomes a transaction driven by a carrot on an extended stick. Furthermore, the GOP-led NCGA still does not seem to acknowledge that student growth is different than student test scores. When some of our colleagues deal with students who experience more poverty, health issues, and other factors, then how can you say that those teachers do not “grow” those students when an arbitrary test score is all that is used to measure students?”

If you read the quotes for all of the topics explored in the EdWeek.org article, you might see one candidate actually trying to listen to teachers.

The other one is not.

How Hillary Clinton Just Changed The Dialogue on Public Education With Sen. Tim Kaine’s Selection As VEEP

The announcement that Hillary Clinton today selected Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate brought public education into the forefront of the presidential election even more.

Donald Trump’s recent selection of Gov. Mike Pence solidified his stance that “choice” is the solution for what ails public education. Gov. Pence has been very much in favor of the “reform” movement in public education. His championing of charter schools and vouchers makes North Carolina look like a novice with its own unregulated charter industry and Opportunity Grants.

It is no secret that I am not in favor of unregulated charter growth and use of vouchers to fund tuition costs at religious private schools.

Take a look at a report done by NPR (yes, I am an avid NPR listener) entitled “What Did Mike Pence Do For Indiana Schools As Governor? Here’s a Look” (http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/07/20/486654015/what-did-pence-do-for-schools-as-governor-heres-a-look).

Breaking down his actions on Common Core, school choice, pre-k, and statewide testing, the article by NPR’s Eric Weddle breaks down Pence’s resume on public education.

Add that history to what Donald Trump Jr. so uneloquently said in his RNC address about public schools. This excerpt came from Valerie Strauss’s Washington Post education blog, “The Answer Sheet” in a post entitled “Donald Trump Jr. trashes U.S. public schools (though he didn’t attend one).” It can be found here – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/07/20/donald-trump-jr-trashes-u-s-public-schools-though-he-didnt-attend-one/.

Trump, Jr. said,

“The other party gave us public schools that far too often fail our students, especially those who have no options. Growing up, my siblings and I we were truly fortunate to have choices and options that others don’t have. We want all Americans to have those same opportunities.

Our schools used to be an elevator to the middle class. Now they’re stalled on the ground floor. They’re like Soviet-era department stores that are run for the benefit of the clerks and not the customers, for the teachers and the administrators and not the students. You know why other countries do better on K through 12? They let parents choose where to send their own children to school.

That’s called competition. It’s called the free market. And it’s what the other party fears.

They fear it because they’re more concerned about protecting the jobs of tenured teachers than serving the students in desperate need of a good education.

They want to run everything top-down from Washington. They tell us they’re the experts and they know what’s best.”

If you read the entire post, Strauss actually debunks those claims made by Trump, Jr. and even brings in a quote from Trump, Sr. himself that shows how uneducated he really is about public education. She states,

“What does Donald Trump, the candidate, think? Education wasn’t high on the list of discussion topics during the primary season, but he has long been a supporter of school choice and a critic of traditional public schools. In his 2000 book, “The America We Deserve,” he wrote:

“We’re doing worse than treading water; we’re going under.” According to school-testing experts’ rule of thumb, the average child’s achievement score declinesabout 1 percent for each year they’re in school. That gives the expression ‘dumbing down’ a whole new meaning. Schools may be hazardous to your child’s intellectual health.”

Wow! Like son, like father.

Then here comes Tim Kaine, former governor of a swing state and current senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia. My venerable friend from my native Georgia, Bertis Downs, sent me a link to an op-ed written by Sen. Kaine. Maybe Bertis remembered I was a parent of public schools kids. Maybe he remembered I am the parent of a special needs child with an IEP thicker than some novels I teach, but made in cooperation with caring teachers and administrators at my child’s public school. Maybe he sent it to me to solidify that there are many who believe in our public schools to a degree that I can respect. I know he sent it to me because we share a passion for advocating for public schools in all states.

And this is what Bertis sent me – “Tim Kaine: Lessons from 40 years as a Richmond Public Schools parent”. Here is a link  – http://www.richmond.com/opinion/their-opinion/article_704c7708-041b-545b-921d-42fcb36e96cc.html.

And here is the content of what The Richmond Times – Dispatch used.

“Anne and I are now empty-nesters. Combined, our three kids spent 40 school years in the Richmond Public Schools. While we both interact with the school system in our professional lives, we’ve learned even more from back-to-school nights, parent-teacher conferences, attending school events and pulling crumpled notes to parents out of our kids’ backpacks. The lessons learned as parents have made me think about what works and what doesn’t work in Pre-K-12 education. Here are seven changes I’d like to see:

It’s about the individual!

Most policy debate these days seems to be about charter schools or high-stakes testing. But I’m convinced that the most important reform has been under our noses since 1975, when legislation was passed to guarantee children with diagnosed disabilities receive individualized learning plans tailored to meet their specific needs.

Each child brings a mix of strengths and challenges to the classroom. Let’s use the insight gained through advances in educating kids with disabilities to leverage new technologies and teaching methods that can individualize learning for each child.

Early childhood education works

My daughter was able to attend a year of high-quality pre-K in our city schools. This experience made me a believer, and it’s one of the reasons why I greatly expanded pre-K for at-risk 4 year olds when I was governor.

The research is powerful — if you invest in high-quality programs that coordinate with K-12 curricula and have mandatory teacher standards, the gains from early education are lasting. It’s also important that we focus on coordinating investments made in early childhood programs — such as Head Start — to ensure we are effectively using our funding, eliminating any waste and bolstering the structure of our education system.

Simplify elementary education

By the time Virginians graduate from high school, they have taken at least 35 state-mandated tests in addition to all the classroom testing that good teachers require.

This over-testing phenomenon is particularly acute at the elementary level. Borrowing a phrase from Singapore’s educational reform efforts, I’d “teach less and learn more” at the elementary level by focusing the early grades on English and math fluency.

Use social studies and science material to stimulate curiosity about the world while building reading mastery and making basic math concepts more concrete. Save the state testing of science and social studies for later grades. If the early years are intensely focused on language and math, our students will perform better in all areas down the road.

Middle school as career exploration

I’d reconceive middle school as fundamentally about career exploration. What do kids know about the work world beyond what their parents do? We can make middle school more exciting if we use all parts of the curriculum to expose students to the wide range of available career choices so that, by the time they enter high school, they will be more able to choose the right direction for themselves.

Different paths to high school success

As governor, I created Governor’s Career and Technical Academies to promote the notion that technical education is as important as college preparatory courses. Virginia now offers three diploma types — standard, modified standard and advanced. Coupled with an increasing variety of other options — Advanced Placement courses, career certification exams, community college joint enrollment programs, verified online courses — a high school transcript is now a highly personalized learning résumé. Gone are the days when kids are “tracked” into a two-tier system of college prep or vocational education. When students are given exposure to all options, they can build their own high school path to the future they want.

Value the unvalued

While RPS is an urban system with fiscal challenges, it has resisted pressure to devalue arts education. These experiences enhanced my children’s creativity, confidence, communication skills and teamwork — all greatly in demand in the adult world. And it’s not just arts. Trained computer professionals are in high demand, yet most states still treat computer science courses as an elective, not allowing them to be used to meet math or science requirements. Many of the things that promote life and career success don’t fit neatly into today’s curricular requirements. Let’s create space for this kind of personal development in our schools.

Keeping good teachers

Finally, a note of gratitude. Our kids were blessed to have many wonderful teachers. There were some weak ones, but RPS teachers were mostly solid, some spectacular and a few life-changing for our children. As I listen to public debate, it often sounds like our main issue is how to get rid of bad teachers. But this problem pales beside the larger issue of how to keep good teachers.

Too many great prospective teachers never enter the profession and too many great teachers leave too early over low salaries, high-stakes testing pressure, discipline challenges and an overall belief that society doesn’t value the profession. We need a robust debate about how to value and attract good teachers.”

Tim Kaine represents Virginia in the United States Senate. This column is adapted from a longer article published by Education Week.

If I was a single issue voter as some might be and chose public education as the issue that swayed my vote – it just got swayed.

But I am not just a voter. I am a parent. I am an involved parent. I am a public school teacher. I am an advocate for public schools. I am a tax-payer. I favor the use of the arts in education. And I stay up at night reading articles and op-eds about public education. I want to know what these candidates think. Then I write about it in those very nights I stay up when my wife texts me from the other room to tell me to go to bed for God’s sake.

I distinctly remember when Chris Rock was asked by Larry King if he was going to vote for Barack Obama in 2008 for president because he was a minority. Rock said (and I paraphrase) that he would not. He was going to vote for the guy who only had one house to lose, not many houses.

Maybe, I might listen a little more to what Sen. Kaine says about public schools. Why? That’s where he sent his kids.

Me too.