Andrew Milton and his family
When asked about who, amongst all fictional characters, Andrew Milton would want to be, he replied “the John Cusack character in Gross Point Blank… Martin Blank. (That’s bad though, he’s an assassin.)” Certainly his assassin traits were not the ones Milton wanted to emulate. “[John Cusack] is a funny, calm, but rather independent actor who gets to be in charge on his own terms.”
These characteristics that Milton admires in Cusack are the ones he strives to bring out in himself. He doesn’t see himself as a politician (“I don’t like politics per se”), he is a person who is working to stand up for teachers.
With the last 41 years, one way or another, being involved in schools Milton has a “teacher’s sense.” Working right now as an 8th grade language arts teacher, he views part of the bureaucracy of his school district as a challenge for teachers. In his blog “Speaking of education” you can read about his concerns with programs like the Common Core, and how he worries that good ideas can turn into regulations poorly imposed.
“There are lots of mandates that come down. I would say be careful on how much we mandate and how we implement mandates, ’cause if you mandate four different areas… eventually the teachers are like ‘how do I deal with that?” When comparing this to the possibility of “being in charge on his own terms,” Milton sees the later as an opportunity for himself (and all teachers) to do their work, and implement the larger ideas, in a way that works best for them.
In additional to public school teaching, Milton currently works at Troy University on Joint Base Lewis McChord, and in the past he spent time as a visiting professor at the University of Puget Sound. I asked him about the switch from UPS to teaching junior high. It was in part because he was working at UPS as a guest professor, in part because he didn’t want to move for another job, and in part because he thought he might make more of an impact in public schools.
“Actually I found that it is in some ways much more appealing – you really are contributing – even if just a small bit – it is easier to tell you are contributing to someone. UPS graduates are effective students by and large and are going to go be assertive, even aggressive, out in the world and are going to be fine… Students who maybe aren’t as effective actually need better teachers.”
To describe Milton’s commitment to helping people, particularly children, I would like to point out something about our meeting. I had not met Andrew Milton before this interview, and I recognized him more by the almost-four-year old boy he had told me would be coming with him than by his picture in my voter’s pamphlet. He had brought his son, Peter, with him because he agreed to meet me on short notice.
There is something very obvious about Peter: he is black, Milton and his wife are not. I did not need to ask (and I did not ask) whether or not Peter was adopted, but it came up in passing that he was and that he is originally from Atlanta. I did not ask about why Andrew and his family chose to adopt another child (he has two teenage children), but as I talked with Andrew about his life and his desires, he explained his philosophy: he supports specific work getting done for people – the process of meeting people’s needs.
It was hard for Milton to name just one charity, when asked, that he would give money to. He supports Children’s International, orphanages, someone he knows doing work in Thailand. Milton has gone on mission trips and helps out his local community through his church. He is passionate about making sure every child has what they need, to the point where he welcomed another child into his family to give him love and support.
And so, after years of commitment towards providing for children, time analyzing challenges that face schools on his blog, the desire to stand up for teachers, and with a good sense of humor, Milton entered into the race for Tacoma School Board, position 3.
The fact is, not many people know what it’s like to run for office. Since filing, Milton has had the opportunity to learn what it means:
“You file for the office – to run for office – online. So I filled out the, you know, and there’s a submit button at the bottom. And I think I sat there for hours. I couldn’t click the submit button. So I finally clicked and I thought, ‘Where’s the back button!?’
“You’re out there trying to win approval from people. You spend your life raising up your children, raising up your students, saying ‘You shouldn’t … Don’t get thrown in with needing approval’ and here I am saying, won’t 51% of you approve me please?’ It’s stressful in that way.
“It’s been good exercise to face that not everyone’s going to vote for me, not everyone’s going to like me. It’s good exercise in facing that not everyone’s going to like you – and that’s okay.”
Milton handles the pressure by understanding his priorities. He explained how he went on a vacation for five days just three weeks before the primary. It was a family vacation they had planned since November, and while he now felt a lot of pressure to stay and campaign, he knew the race can’t be everything. “I only checked my e-mailed once while I was gone.”
Andrew Milton can work hard running for office, and he would like your vote, but that is not how he defines his life. Like John Cusack’s character Martin Blank, Milton wants to live his life on his own terms, and his terms have a lot more to them than being a politician. They are about spending time with his family and friends, and doing his best to sustain others’ needs.
At our meeting Andrew drank an iced mocha (Peter had kids hot cocoa with whip cream and sprinkles). Andrew doesn’t drink hot drinks! The last hot drink he had was in 1991 at a Yankee’s game.
He is right handed (Peter may be left handed).
His first job was delivering newspapers.
Football is his favorite sport.
Social studies was his favorite subject in school. Language arts is his favorite to teach (he likes poetry!).
He lives in the Westgate neighborhood.
He has a dog named Zach (called Zachy by Peter) who only has three legs. He has two cats, Lucy and Clark (Lucy is Peter’s favorite).
If he could be any fictional character, he would be the John Cusack character in Gross Point Blank.
The most exciting place he has ever been is New York City. The most unusual is Kazakhstan, where he went on a mission trip. He also went on a mission trip to Lithuania.
He supports many causes, but what is most important to people is “meeting people’s needs.”
10 fun facts about Andrew Milton: