Having spent countless hours in the last five years working with Grace Mah in her pursuit of a Mandarin Immersion choice program, I have come to admire her enormously, not only because she's an advocate extraordinaire, but more importantly because of her personal qualities. I could list a string of complimentary attributes (collaborative, upbeat, honest, diligent, thorough, persistent, etc.), but there's one particular trait that I admire greatly: her respect for others as human beings, regardless of whether they agree or disagree with her. She reaches out to those who disagree in effort to understand their concerns, and she accepts differences without personalizing the disagreements. She has managed to turn the other cheek and see the opposition as opponents, not enemies. What impresses me tremendously is that I have never heard Grace badmouth anyone who attacked her character or stood in her way. There are no nasty nicknames or character assassinations in her private conversations.
There is no reason anyone should be reviled for championing an educational program of merit. There is no reason anyone should receive hate mail and phone calls for engaging in educational advocacy. All of us--choice supporters or choice opponents--would do well to take a page from Grace's book, and remind ourselves that each of us deserves respect for advocating for our kids, regardless of our viewpoints.
We all have dreams for our children's education. Let's not denigrate each other's dreams. When a new idea comes along, let's critique the proposal without crucifying the advocate.