Tuesday morning dawned clear and still, well suited to the airing of political views. Thirty-five Indivisible Casper activists gathered to offer the U.S. Secretary of Education our reactions to her policy proposals.
We were ready for a nuanced discussion of the issues, but the secretary, who arrived at Woods Learning Center under armed escort, never got close enough for any conversation at all. From the sidewalk on the high ground above the school, we made sure she heard our blunted dissent, inelegantly expressed with a hearty chorus of boos that bounced and built between the front of the building and the hillside opposite it.
There was not one single journalist in sight. It was striking, how precisely managed the "free" press was. There was no opportunity for them to capture our vehement protest — they had all been secured inside the building before the secretary's arrival. Had they left the building, they would not have been readmitted.
While we waited an hour and a half or so for the secretary to emerge from the building, we got to know each other a bit better and eventually started to wish for shade.
And then, she left. By the back door, or maybe one off to the side. Someone said, "She sneaked in and slithered out." By the time the journalists were released, 90 percent of us had left.
Why does a public official feel so threatened by the public that her arrival could be announced only 20 hours in advance? And why could she not deign to look us in the eye and defend her stances?
Our objections are pretty straightfoward. We don't want vouchers that starve public education to fatten for-profit private schools. We don't want those schools given a free pass to exclude or otherwise denigrate LGBTQ+ students, teachers or staff. We don't want differently abled students shunted off into some custodial form of "education."
If the free public education that is the bedrock of our capacity for self-governance has fallen into disrepair, we want it fixed, not demolished. The secretary is nothing more than a wrecking ball. Shame on her.