Prologue: May 28, 1981. I am standing in the office of my school principal, trying to explain NWSA in terms that will be understandable to him, but not too threatening. I am trying to convince the administration to give me four days of professional leave to attend the Convention. On the desk before us is a two-page letter in which I have stated, as "professionally" as possible, my reasons for wanting these four days of leave—the ideas and materials that the Convention will give me for my twelfth-grade women's studies class (an English elective which will continue to be offered next year in spite of the changes brought about by the passage of Proposition 2½ in Massachusetts, because it is one of the most popular courses in the department); the importance of the Convention to my academic career as a graduate student in women's studies (our administration considers "professional development through courses and graduate programs" a high priority for teachers); the significance of the Convention's theme, Women Respond to Racism, for a teacher whose students rarely encounter a person of color (our ten-year state evaluation cited "minority literature" as one area in which our English Department needed improvement). All the while, I know, as surely as I know that my request will be refused, that no one but me has read a word of my statement.
We negotiate, and I am granted two days' leave to go to the NWSA Convention....