I’m a retired public school teacher, and a teacher union activist. I retired from a union district: teachers are required to join the union upon hiring, and all are represented by the union. No teacher is required to pay for political lobbying. For their dues, members receive bargaining representation that (in my district) resulted in pay raises, retirement benefits, and health insurance coverage. All of these came at a price: our dues, as well as the unpaid labor of union volunteers and leaders. Negotiations and due process require lawyers, research, hearings, arbitration – all of which are paid by union members’ dues. I could never have negotiated a salary, insurance, or retirement benefits on my own. Absent that union representation, I’d now be retired, poor, and sick after a long career of public service. 
After Janus, if there is no longer a requirement to pay membership (or agency fees), unions should be released from representing those who refuse to join. Sadly, the law currently seems to require unions to serve members and free riders alike. 
I’m very upset about several recent Supreme Court decisions. Obviously, the goal is no longer justice; it is finding an argument to support the political objective – politicians in robes! We have Majority Leader McConnell to thank for these SCOTUS action that do not include Merrick Garland. Elections have consequences, and we must ensure that there is #NoShortAttentionSpan. Be a #PebbleInALandslide!
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It’s Johnny’s Birthday!

Happy 77th birthday to John Lennon. You changed my work, my life, and my world for the better. ❤️

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Charlottesville and Presidential Leadership

I’ve been thinking a lot about Dad lately. A tough, brilliant man who (along with FDR, Churchill, JFK, Eisenhower, and a few ten million others) defeated Hitler’s Third Reich in the 1940s. What would Dad think today, seeing his daughters and granddaughters rail against Confederates and Nazis — and the “President” who offers them political space, rather than unflinching rebuke?

And just to be crystal clear: Nazism, racism, and anti-Semitism may warrant First Amendment protection, but do not deserve any support from our political leaders. Being President means standing up for the US Constitution and condemning Confederate, Nazi, and other anti-Semitic, racist, and separatist notions. While an individual may hold these beliefs, the President must not promote such policies. This is why Presidents are required to affirm under oath that they will support and defend the US Constitution. The current Resident of the White House has violated this oath. “Strange days, indeed!” (J. Lennon)

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Transgender Day of Visibility

Once upon a time, many Americans didn’t know any gay people. Except that they did. They knew people who were living in the closet, “passing” as straight. Our first out gay political office holder, Harvey Milk, encouraged gay and lesbian Americans to come out, letting everyone know that their friends and families included gays and lesbians.

I recall a US Senator who once opposed marriage equality, but changed his mind after his son came out. Knowing gay and lesbian people makes us less scary.

Now, although most Americans know gay and lesbian people, most don’t know any #transgender people. Except that they do. Some are in the closet, trying to navigate the world in the wrong gender. Some have transitioned to life in their true genders and don’t choose to disclose their transgender status.

Contemporary #discrimination against transgender people is reminiscent of the discrimination that once confronted gays and lesbians. Perhaps if more Americans knew that some of their neighbors, friends, and family members are transgender, this discrimination—and the fear of the other that animates it—would diminish.

Today is March 31, the Transgender Day of Visibility: a day for trans people to heed Harvey Milk’s advice and come out.

I am many things. I am smart and persistent, opinionated and stubborn, loyal and patient. I’m a friend and a colleague, a spouse and a parent. I’m somebody’s sister and somebody’s daughter. I’m an activist, an educator, and a musician. And I’m a #RealLiveTransAdult.

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Senator, Please Vote “No” on Betsy DeVos

Here is the text of a letter I sent to my Republican US Senator, Ron Johnson.
Dear Senator Johnson:

I am a Wisconsin constituent; I write today to emphatically encourage you to vote “No” on the nomination of Betsy DeVos.

Ms. DeVos is a proponent of for-profit charter schools; her family businesses and investments include charter schools. Because of this conflict of interest, Ms. DeVos cannot be seen as an impartial federal education policy official.

Additionally, neither she nor her children have ever attended nor worked in a public school. Ms. DeVos cites brief volunteer experience which is not relevant as an education credential.

Moreover, Ms. DeVos’ committee testimony failed to demonstrate that she understands educational law, policy, or practice. Indeed, she demonstrated ignorance of significant programs that the Secretary of Education administers, such as Title IX and the IDEA legislation.

Finally, Ms. DeVos has made substantial donations to anti-LGBTQ+ organizations, including those that advocate or provide harmful “reparative therapy,” to the psychological detriment of our youth.

As a teacher, a teacher educator, a constituent, and a taxpayer, I urge a resounding “No” on Ms. DeVos’ nomination. This nomination represents a perfect storm of ignorance, antipathy, inexperience, and intolerance that must not be part of our government.

Thank you for your attention to my concern, and for your service in the US Senate.


Emma Joy Jampole

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Martin Luther King, Jr. and Representative John Lewis

On this Martin Luther King, Jr. day, I am grateful to US Representative John Lewis. A generation ago, young Mr. Lewis stood up with Dr. King and gave America his talent, his sweat, and his blood. John Lewis still stands up today. He is a voice of morality and rectitude in a sea of hyperbole: a true American hero. Thank you, Dr. King. And thank you, Representative Lewis.

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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

I proudly support Hillary Clinton and her vision of an inclusive, forward-looking United States. I take much comfort knowing that Secretary Clinton won the popular vote. I oppose President-Elect Trump’s platform and policies, and I feel incredibly demeaned by his campaign. My body is not available to be grabbed by men who feel entitled by their “stardom.” As a queer, Jewish woman, I feel newly vulnerable, despite my white, middle-class privilege. My heart is with all of the marginalized and victimized groups and individuals in our nation and our world.

I deplore the lack of respect afforded to President Obama during his term in office. In part because I so loathed the poor behavior of so many who opposed President Obama, I will not engage in similar statements or actions against President-Elect Trump. I intend to respect the office and to continue to engage in vigorous yet civil opposition to hateful policies. That’s the American way. It’s hard, it’s tiring, and it hurts. But that’s what it takes.

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