All week I've been getting updates from the protests in Madison -- from my first-grader and fourth-grader.
My husband and I are in Washington, DC, where my mother-in-law is undergoing brain surgery. We left our kids with my parents -- not realizing they would be out of school for three days.
Their teachers are part of the 'sick-out' by school staff in Madison and Milwaukee.
Their grandfather took them downtown to march with thousands of people into the state Capitol building. By coincidence they entered the building right behind their teachers from Lakeview Elementary, and got a big cheer.
'It was awesome!' My fourth-grader said on the phone.
She liked the signs that said 'Walk Like An Egyptian' and 'Scott Walker, We Don't Allow Bullies in our School!'
She joined in the chant, 'Union busting, that's disgusting!'
On the second day of protests, my kids made their own signs.
My fourth-grader, who likes big words, wrote 'Scott Walker, You're Incorrigible. Your Decisions are Horrible. Take a Hike.'
My first grader wrote: 'Up With the Teachers! Down With Walker!'
They also got quite a civics lesson. They know all about the bicameral legislature. They know all about labor organizing. They know how bills become law.
Most of all they know about democracy. They know citizens can play a powerful role in shaping the policies that affect them. They know budget decisions in the state Capitol building touch them personally. They know how thrilling it is to be part of a movement, to care passionately about something, join with others to stand up for what they believe in.
Out here in Washington, the mainstream media's spin on what's happening in Madison is dispiriting. The pundits are missing the point.
Candy Crowley of CNN said that the Democrats were 'spinning' the battle in Wisconsin to say that it is about the right to organize, because that is a more sympathetic story line than budget cuts. But my kids could tell her that by trying to take away public employees' right to negotiate every aspect of their work besides wages, Walker is putting their teachers at a permanent disadvantage.
Mary Matalin said on CNN last night that the teachers' unions are out of touch. She said the only schools that work are charters and private schools that have broken from the unions. Public schools in this country amount to 'child abuse' she said, over tape of my kids' teachers and classmates and their friends protesting.
What a lot of nonsense.
My kids, who go to a largely low-income public school in Madison, have had terrific teachers. They know a lot more about what's at stake than Mary Matalin. Their hearts are with their teachers, who work hard, are there for them, and have taught them what it means to be part of a community.
I just hope our public officials can learn the same lesson.
If you liked this article by Ruth Conniff, the political editor of The Progressive, check out her story "Live Action's Sleazy Planned Parenthood Sting and Pro-Life Triumphalism."
Follow Ruth Conniff @rconniff on Twitter.