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Colleagues,

Thank you for all the contributions you've written, entertained, and
endured on the topic of the "at-risk" comment made in the first
presidential debate. It was I who started us on that journey to Oz; I
take full credit (or blame) for stirring up that cyclone.

I appreciated those of you who left the safety of Munchkinland and
followed us down that Yellow Brick Road; whether or not other Listserv
members personally agreed with your approach was secondary to the fact
that you were willing to serve as traveling companions on that journey.
Together, we looked at the idea critically and intelligently -- proof
that we have a brain. We spoke with compassion about our own "at-risk"
students -- proof that hearts beat inside our chests. And we contributed
suggestions for working positively and productively with those whose
policies or perceptions differ from our own -- proof that we have
courage in our convictions.

Yes, the Wicked Witch of the West threatened to take those ruby slippers
off our feet when we launched personal attacks at each other or on the
candidates' characters. Flying monkeys darkened the sky of our listserv.
At that point, emails suggested that we give up the discussion:
"Surrender, Dorothy!" was the implied subject line in more than a few
messages.

But overall, I thought the journey was worthwhile. At the very least,
we're likely to listen to tonight's debate with an ear closely tuned to
what each candidate says about education -- and how he says it. I assume
we'll pay particular attention to the man behind, and in front of, that
political curtain. In our own ways, we'll confront the possibility that
either or both may indeed be "a very good man, but a very bad wizard."

When it comes to politics or political action of any type, Glinda the
Good Witch was right: We have the power within us, and have had it all
along. Ultimately, we're the ones responsible for clicking those heels
together, whatever that means for us in the political, professional, or
personal arena.

And now, I think I'll rest awhile in the poppies,
Melodye Wiens
NADE Political Liaison Committee Co-chair