submitted by Ann Keeler-Evans
I appreciate the hard work it must have taken Dr. Knapp to pursue his degrees and to rise to the responsible position he holds today. His dedication to his school district is obvious and welcome. His refusal to accept a raise at a time when the school district is struggling is admirable.
Nonetheless, I was disappointed in his editorial on Monday. We all believe in working hard. However, if it were ever true that hard work always led to success without a lot of other variables, it is true no longer. Sweat does not level the road to success. The impact of race, gender and class differences may be changing ever so slightly, but any or all of them can offset sweat equity. And, however hard we work, sweat means little without the support of good teachers and mentors. Bill Gates, who many like to tout as a bootstraps guy, succeeded in large part due to some happy historical events as well as encouraging mentors.
I would also challenge Dr. Knapp’s reading of the OccupyWallStreet participants. A movement of and by the people to protest unregulated greed is similar to the rise of patriotism that led to the Boston Tea Party, a movement that gave birth to this nation. To disparage everyone in that crowd as uneducated, unintelligent and incapable is wrong-headed and classist. Plenty of people not on Wall Street, teachers among them, work long hours. They deserve a living wage. Many of the people in that crowd are teens and young adults who cannot find a job. Many are folks over 50. Some have jobs. Some had jobs with pensions that were lost or given away. Some are soldiers back from the wars in which we are still engaged. Some are people unable to get healthcare for themselves or their families because of laws that favor corporations over citizens.
What more could we ask of our citizens that they, when faced with a broken system, sit down and reason their way forward together? The wealth inequality in our country is destabilizing to our nation, and those protesting have not yet made demands; rather they are resolving to be part of the solution. People need jobs. They need homes. They need healthcare. OWS participants are taking time to be good citizens. History is being made by these ardent Patriots. I would want students to understand the history unfolding before them. Liberty and democracy are not easily obtained. But the people OccupyingUSA are working hard to bring this country into alignment with our American values and virtues, calling attention to the vast disparities in privilege that have been growing since the 1980s. May the sweat of the 99 percent lead to our success as a nation equally responsive to 100 percent of its population.