I sat in a coffee shop on the east side of the river with a friend, a guy from Santa Cruz who had made a little independent movie I had a part in. He was a 30-something snowboarder-type, creative and hard-working, and his eyes glazed over when the subject of Bill Sizemore came up.
This was about three or four years ago, when the lawyers working for the "bureaucracy" (OEA/PERS/AttyGeneral) were making their public "education" money by demonizing Sizemore.
At the time, I really didn't know too much about Mr. Sizemore--really still don't--but he was anathema to my movie-making friend from California who seemed to almost foam at the mouth as he began using descriptors of Sizemore like some of those appearing in response to this article: "Bill Sizemore files sweeping federal lawsuit against government officials, teachers unions"
I could swear one of his hands started twitching--and this was a MELLOW dude--as my friend recounted how he had gotten a job, when he first arrived in Portland in the late '90's, working for a campaign against Sizemore. He was paid six or seven dollars an hour to go door-to-door in Southeast and Northeast Portland and beat the drums against Demon Sizemore.
My friend bristled with hostility as we sipped our lattes somewhere on Hawthorne; he HATED Sizemore! At no point during the months we were shooting his movie did he display this amount of passion. I was intrigued...
So I asked him "Why?" You see, I had sent a few marginally-sane email messages to Bill Sizemore when I learned that he was in conflict with the Oregon Education Association; in fact, the blog about Sizemore's case against the OEA/PERS/AttyGeneral was written by the same lawyer for Bennett-Hartman who had been earning teacher-money manipulating me for years while my mother was dying (so I have felt some intense HATRED, too).
Sizemore's responses to my emails were considerate and consoling, always. He was waging war against a juggernaut and was circumspect about alliances. I do not share his views about a lot of things, but I know he was courteous to me when I sought him out.
So when my friend in the coffee shop started to sound like some of the commentors sound now, in responding to Mr. Kost's report, I asked "Why?" What did Bill do wrong?
And--this is the honest truth--he couldn't tell me. Couldn't name ONE issue about which he disagreed with Bill Sizemore. Not one. Enlightening moment for us both.
Sigh...That is the measure of our political discourse: Six or seven dollar-an-hour ad hominems, purchased by OEA/PERS, because Sizemore had the guts to stand up to unaccountable public "servants" who have profited from our mediocre schools.
Saroyan said: "Hope has two daughters: Anger and Courage." I pray that this law suit creates a lot of heat and light for those prominent citizens who, in the guise of "public service," have behaved in concerted self-interest.