Profiles of People: A radical’s Christmas story
Born and raised in Boston of socialist parents, Ed Glazer hated school and did poorly because he caused trouble. Now he’s a well-respected educator in the Everett School District. With nothing better to do after his high school graduation, Glazer joined the U.S. Air Force where he served honorably as a medic for four years. Still undirected and unmotivated he fell upon a job for the National Park Service as a life guard in Arizona. He didn’t stay there long. Friends invited him to the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco. There among the hippies, war activists, movement organizers and free love participants, Glazer found his youthful place in life. It was, after all, the 1960s. Everyone was arguing with everyone so Glazer finally felt comfortable. He relished the energy. Happily he sat on the roof of a communal apartment watching a small black and white television and cheering while Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. Meanwhile, one of his friend’s grandmothers called to say she was happily watching the Cubs win a double header. Everybody was doing their own thing.
Glazer is among the rare breed of people who always ask why. If they don’t agree with the answer, they go about making change. A true product of the ‘60s, Glazer became a teacher, via San Francisco City College and University of California at Santa Cruz University. Now after 30-plus years he is beloved by his English learners. He is a civic leader who has the respect of minority groups and educational organizations countywide. He also basks in the love and respect of his family, especially his wife Cathy, who in her own right tries daily to make the world a better place. Neither have easy jobs, but most who know them acknowledge they try their best to help people who need help.
Am I really going to spend my Christmas column on a person who is outspoken and not particularly politically correct or religious? Absolutely. I do so because, even though he is kind of a Jewish, Latino, hippie, socialist, he embodies what we spend December saying we are celebrating: practicing good will toward all, taking care of those who cannot help themselves, working to abolish poverty, injustice, and inequality. And Glazer doesn’t just do it one month out of the year, or does he do it when it is easy or convenient or popular. In my opinion, his work embodies all that is good about December.
Glazer still feels sad about one student who asked him to visit her in juvenile hall. At 13 she was in serious trouble. Children in juvenile hall get only select visits, but for some reason her middle school teacher was someone she wanted to see. He still worries if maybe he could have done more to help her. All dedicated teachers for thousands of years have felt this way. On a more positive note, he relishes the memory of two children he taught who had been brought here from Iraq. They struggled to blend in to what we think of as the ‘normal’ American public school behavior, while their foreign born parents struggled to keep them safe in this strange land. Now, he brags, they are successful college students and really good adults who come back to see him.
Glazer is a controversial figure in Everett and Snohomish County. He will argue that the 1960s were the best of times and that somewhere along the ensuing decades we have lost our social justice awareness. We rest on our laurels. Just because this country elected Barack Obama as president isn’t enough for him. He does not apologize for his opinions, but is an active listener in his passion to achieve education for all.
“Public schools are the great equalizer in our society,” he contends. “Only through public education can the disparities in our society be made fair.”
He worries, therefore, about charter schools because they don’t have to accept everyone. He doesn’t just pontificate. After a long day of teaching middle school he gives back bountifully, with humor and energy.
When asked what keeps him young of heart he doesn’t miss a beat when acknowledging his beautiful younger wife, not just because she’s younger or beautiful, but because she believes in the best of people. That challenges him to have hope for the world. An activist in her own right they have a blended loved family of children and grandchildren. Glazer enjoys the story of how the two met. Glazer had just moved here from California and was getting his car washed at a campaign car wash 16 years ago. She washed his car. They dated and it turns out the house he had just bought in Everett was about a block from the home she grew up in.
Snohomish County YMCA Minority Achievers Program receives Glazer’s free time. Everett Community College does also. He is a founding member and First Chairperson of Snohomish County’s Communities of Colors Coalition. Not bad achievements for someone who acknowledges he is outspoken, socialistic, argumentative and radical in his thoughts and in his deeds. But those who know him understand his actions are always taken on behalf of the downtrodden and the less fortunate — and after all, that is what this wonderful month is supposed to be all about.