Folks who lost their jobs.
Folks who lost their homes.
Folks who lost their schools.
Adult Education was one of the many felled by those events and in so many ways, we are still struggling to recover from them.
The future is unsure. While I declared "victory" on the Rebuild Adult Education petition, I'm not so sure now, because the promise of 500 million in Designated Funding in 2015 seems less concrete now.
What exactly does the future hold?
Click the "read more" link to find out.
We don't know.
We're working that out.
As I've said over and over, we're inside the chrysalis.
There's a new system - the Regional Consortia system - and in that system, we will plan - region by region, what sort of Adult Ed will be delivered to whom.
K12 Adult Schools and Community Colleges and jails and prisons and any other providers of Adult Education will work together to decide this.
And what will that look like? Both the results and the process?
Will it be inclusive? Transparent? Easy? Difficult?
In the words of Rodney King, will we, can we, as we go through all this, all get along?
We don't know.
Here's what we do know:
We survived something really terrible that was not of our own doing.
And just like a family mowed down by a hit and run driver while crossing the street, we didn't all get hurt in the same way or respond in the same way.
But we responded.
And as an entity, as an institution, as an idea and purpose, we survived.
This is important.
What's more, in our efforts to respond and survive, we were seen, we were recognized -
by the larger community -
in a way we've never been before.
At this point, we can say
that small and damaged as we now are
that millions of people, from community members to School Boards to Legislators to the Governor
affirm that Adult Education matters.
This is no small achievement.
In the shadow of what's happened
in the aftermath of the accident
as we struggle to recover and decide what next and how and where and by whom and for whom
it is easy to forget that.
It is also easy to find fault with each other.
You're not doing it right.
You didn't limp to the curb in the right way.
You didn't apply the tourniquet tightly enough.
You ran to cover by the oak tree while I ran to cover by the elm and really, you should have done things as I did.
What's more, now I want to build a tree house in the oak tree and you want to build a house at the base of the elm.
Not to mention the funeral for those who didn't make it. You know they would have hated that song you played. I sure hated it. And what you wore.
It's easy, in the wake of loss, to lose sight of the truth that loss happens.
Whatever brings it into being - intention, distraction, or abstention - change happens.
And then we are left with a new series of choices:
What to do? How to respond? Where and what from here?
The choices in the immediate flush of loss are often easier.
Cushioned from pain by adrenaline, the choices can seem so clear:
The car is coming! Run! Or die!
Later, when you are picking at your scabs or studying your scars and amputation, it is harder.
What caused this? Why did this happen? Could it have been avoided? Will it happen again?
And how will I cope with these losses, these changes?
What can I do to prevent future losses and cope with the fallout of the losses incurred?
These questions - at the very least, the questions of what to do and where to go from here
must be asked.
But on this day, Friday the 13th, more or less five years after the accident,
I'm proposing we take a moment to see ourselves as the heroes we are.
This was an act of heroism
that set into motion hundreds and thousands and millions of acts of heroism -
emails and rallies and petitions and more all stemming from most important act of all:
the decision to see ourselves as worth saving
something of great worth
that must be saved, and renewed and rebuilt.
On this day, for just a moment, let us take that in.
Adult Education matters because people matter.
This is great and good news and to be celebrated.
We are to be celebrated.