Why am I running? I get asked this a lot.
Why am I running? I’m running because I love our state, the state of Texas, and I swell with pride just thinking of the people of this state and our heritage. But this great state is fighting against teachers. This great state is fighting against poor and middle class students. This great state is waging a war against public education and I cannot sit idly by while it happens.
I’m running because I owe a debt that I cannot repay because I lived a story I cannot forget.
Growing up,my father was pretty abusive. We lived everyday not knowing where food was going to come from or if it was going to come at all. People who grew up with me remember mayonnaise sandwiches as something fun when the babysitter wasn’t paying attention or didn’t care. But they literally kept me from starving.
Some memories are very vivid even today I remember my father had a green filing cabinet. It was an odd evergreen color with metallic flecks that made the actual color hard to place. It was covered in cattle association stickers. I remember it so well because on one occasion, when I was six or seven, my face spent quite some time pressed upside down against it. My hands and feet were tied together behind my back and I was locked in a dark closet. That was my father.
My mother stayed because there wasn’t another option and in fact, when we did leave we were forced to go on public assistance just to stay alive. I watched that decision take so much dignity from my mom but I believe it literally saved my life.
So I’ve benefited from social programs, and I know so many others who have too. In elementary school I was able to get a great education from Ranger Elementary. I remember one teacher, Mrs. Rutledge, who had her own suspicions about my home life and would make excuses to bring home class projects that I ‘forgot’. She did this outside the work hours of her full-time career as a teacher. So I’ve benefited from state employees who cared about my well being.
In school I had the opportunity to do well, no matter what was happening at home. At school I could excel. I could use my natural talents and curious nature to take advantage of opportunities I could only dream of if my family had had to pay. I had access to a compassionate and kind counselor when I would have panic attacks during class at no cost to me or my family. Public education saved my life. I owe a debt that I cannot repay.
I am a product of these kind people. I am a product of these kind systems.
Why am I running? I’m running because we’ve broken the bottom rungs on the ladder of society and still tell the poor to climb. I’m running because when I attended Standard Lambert’s one public town hall in two years as a public servant I watched as dozens of deaf women pleaded to know why they couldn’t get an interpreter when they needed to go to the hospital. Why they couldn’t communicate with their doctors anymore. But all they got from Lambert is false concern and no answer.
I’m running because no child should have to go through what I went through. I’m running because I am uniquely aware that no man is, or should be, an island unto themselves. Because I understand and believe with my whole heart that we are all in this together!
No child should have to eat mayonnaise sandwiches. Every child in the greatest state in the country deserves, is entitled to, the best education in the country.
I’m running to repay a debt that I can not. I’m running for all of the Mrs. Rutledges out there and all of the children they have helped – and continue to help — become productive adults.
I’m running because it is the very least I can do. I hope you’ll support me.