The first we ever heard of North Carolina state Rep. Patsy Keever was a year ago when she was running for the legislature and had been pointed out by Progressive Kick as a future political leader of consequence. At the time we wrote this of their effort to elect progressives to state legislatures:
All their candidates are progressive leaders with real backbones, unlike some Democratic members of Congress who we’ll have to hold our noses to vote for in order to keep a majority. Many of the candidates in this effort will be the progressive congressional candidates of the future. Does this sort of thing work, you ask? Let me share a couple of success stories with you, direct from candidates who have benefited. Patsy Keever is currently the progressive Democratic nominee for North Carolina House District 115. After winning her primary last month she wrote Progressive Kick that “I originally decided to run for the NC Legislature when I read in the local newspaper that my current legislator was ranked at the very bottom of all NC legislators by the nonpartisan organization, Environment NC…. I was up against all the 'powers that be' in the state, and it was a real shot in the arm to get the surprise support from Progressive Kick at a time when we were unable to get support from the groups I had expected to have… we won our primary by a 60 - 40 margin against an entrenched incumbent who outspent me five to one…”
Blue America has been urging Patsy to run for Congress for the last several months and recently she decided to. The Republican legislature has gerrymandered her district so that she would now take on ridiculous right-wing clown Patrick McHenry, a dedicated servant of the 1% from his perch on the House Financial Services Committee-- and someone with a very sleazy past that has never been adequately examined. The DCCC is pushing a Blue Dog-type, Asheville mayor Terry Bellamy, who would fit right in with Heath Shuler and Mike McIntyre, the two North Carolina Blue Dogs who stick with Boehner and Cantor on almost everything important that comes before the House. The new boundary lines are quite a bit friendly for Democrats than the old lines. In fact this is how the party registration breaks down:
It has long been a contention of Blue America that Congress has enough lawyers and enough millionaires-- in fact, way more than enough. Patsy has a different background and it's what has motivated her political career. Before winning office, she was a school teacher. I asked if that was important in her political development. She responded with this guest post:
Public Education-- The Path To Social Justice
-by Patsy Keever (D-NC)
As a teacher, I have many causes, but my real passion is social justice, and public education is the path to a just society. Public education is the backbone of our democracy. The majority of my 25 years of teaching was in 8th grade social studies and language arts, although I have taught students in every grade from kindergarten to soldiers in the Army. Teaching was a career which I loved, but the lingering illness and subsequent death of my husband ended that career prematurely. He was a Vietnam veteran who was exposed to Agent Orange in 1970 and developed a very aggressive case of prostate cancer 30 years later. When I realized that he was never going to get better and that I probably didn’t have much time left with him, I left the teaching profession.
Although I am no longer teaching, my passion for leveling the playing field remains as strong as ever. I still fight for those children who live in poverty, whose only chance of a better life is a good education. I still care about the students who need to be challenged and those who have far too many challenges at home. As a state and nation, we need to invest in our children from a very early age all the way through college and beyond if we want to develop citizens who can and will contribute to our society.
For 25 years I have watched the Republican party pick away at our public education system. They have tried to treat our schools as a business which turns out a product. It is not a business! It is a service our government provides in order to maintain a just society. The question is how do we develop each individual to reach his or her potential to be a functioning, successful member of the community. Vouchers and charter schools are not the answer. Defunding good programs and instituting unfunded mandates are not the answer. Adding more students to each classroom while decreasing support systems for teachers is not the answer. Teachers, parents, students, businesses, elected officials and entire communities must find ways to work together for the good of all. Our lives depend on it.