On Almost Meeting Jonah Edelman

Jose Vilson Jose

Screenshot of Jonah Edelman's talk at the Aspen Institute

Screenshot of Jonah Edelman’s talk at the Aspen Institute

For some reason, I always get myself into situations where I see someone whose policies may completely destroy public education for all. It’s like Mario where some of the evildoers are worth stomping on and others will ruin your whole set up. So I keep my game face on, because they’re probably used to protesters 500-people deep at their faces like, “Did you have to do my kids’ school like that?!” They’re often the first to retort with moral responsibility arguments, then turn around and ask the valet to park their Diablo right in front of you. So I catch them unawares and hope to keep my eye-rolls and snickers to a minimum.

Because I’m a good guy. And I have the good fortune of writing about it later.

So is the case with Jonah Edelman, CEO of Stand for Children. When I saw him on this conference’s program (no names), I said, “This is curious.” Then I looked up Fred Klonsky’s blog again and got heated. Over and over. In my mind, I’m like, “This 75%-ass mothafucka …” A bunch of scenarios played out in my mind if he got up on stage and tried to address us:

Scenario A:

Edelman: And your name is …
Vilson: Justshutup alreadygoshgoodnessyourpolicieshurtkidsgotoALECorsomethingraawwwrrrr!!!

I don’t think that would have been the most professional intro.

Scenario B:

Edelman: And your name is …
Vilson: Jose Vilson.
E: Hi, how are you?
V: I’m good, and you’re an asshole. Hope that helps.

But you see, I ain’t do that, because it’s so disrespectful.

Scenario C:

E: And your name is …
V: Jose Vilson
E: Hey, how’s it going?
V: It’s going … hey, can we talk about your mother for a second?

That would have gone over well.

Scenario D:

E: And your name is …
V: Jose Vilson, math teacher.
E: Yes, sir, what’s your question?
V: My question is simply this: Marian Wright Edelman said, “The challenge of social justice is to evoke a sense of community that we need to make our nation a better place, just as we make it a safer place.” How does Stand For Children advance this cause?

Sadly, I never got to see this response, or any really. Instead, I got to hear teachers, futurists, and professors speak. I may have seen him twice in passing and threw him a quizzical look.

All the things he sought to do continue to be a model for the type of ed-reform I simply can’t tolerate. If the ideas you set forth shut down tons of schools at a time, proffer narrow measures for assessments, and assure that other people’s children only get inexperienced teachers on a yearly (and sometime twice a year) basis, then we do a disservice to making our nation a better place. I can only listen for so long.

As I look through the roster of staff members there, I wonder how many of them actually drank the bitter lemonade. It’s summer after all, and sometimes a drink helps the awful go away.