Marie Corfield - proud to be a mother, a teacher, and a real Jersey girl - is a genuine American hero.
We teachers are generally not a very outgoing or outspoken lot. We obviously didn't get into the profession for the money or the prestige or the social status. But it's wrong to assume we're some kind of saints. We're professionals. We have a job to do that we enjoy doing, so we do it: it's really that simple. Just let us teach.
Unfortunately, there are people out there who are eager to use us as political pawns. That tends to piss us off a little bit - but we generally just soldier on. The machinations of politicians are small stakes compared to the literal life-or-death situations we face on a daily basis in our schools, so we tend to look at the bluster and posturing of the self-inflating elected officials who use us as punching bags as little more than an annoyance. They are generally small men and small women who are beneath our notice.
Except sometimes, these people go too damn far. And, sometimes, one of our own stands up and tells them off:
That was Marie: an art teacher who went across the street on her lunch break and stood up for her school - and all New Jersey schools - in an artificial "town hall" full of sycophants to the governor. His response was lame, but he owned the mic that day, as he has for the last four years.
The truth is Chris Christie gave a huge tax gift to the wealthiest people in this state in his first year, and the pay freeze he demanded from teachers - but no one else - would have barely made a dent in the state aid cuts he implemented.
Marie Corfield stood up and called this utter phony of a man out on his crap. But she didn't end there: she decided to get involved in the political process and run for the state assembly. Would that more teachers would make this choice: we need more educators in our city councils, our state legislatures, and in Congress.
I don't know why Chris Christie is so damn popular: I find him offensive, boorish, and a disgrace to all of us native-born New Jersey men. The unfortunate fact, however, is that right now he is a political juggernaut. Which means running as a Democrat in a Republican legislative district is a damn near impossible slough.
Marie didn't care. She got into this race and she worked her you-know-what off. I had the privilege of communicating with Marie during the campaign, and I can honestly say I just don't know how she managed to keep working, raise her family, and fight this fight. This woman has guts and energy beyond belief. Dear lord, she ran the last week of the campaign on a broken ankle. Think about that.
It didn't work out, and that's a damn shame. But sometimes, the impossible fight is the one worth fighting. Sometimes, you stand up and take it, knowing you can't win, because it's the right thing to do. And always - ALWAYS - there is a payoff, even if it's years down the line. Karma is funny that way.
So God bless you and yours, Marie Corfield. On behalf of untold parents and teachers across this state: you are our hero. No matter what life brings you, we will always be there, and we will never forget the sacrifice you made for us.
A Genuine American Hero.
Play it, Louis!
ADDING: No one in the state has been harder on Cory Booker's education polices than yours truly (OK, maybe there's one other guy). But the Senator went to bat for Marie in a way no other high-profile Democrat did.
On that basis alone, Senator: I'm burying the hatchet. Thank you for fighting for Marie, and I wish you a great career in the Senate. I am happy to support you in your next election.
But you're still wrong about vouchers, among other things...