I am slightly disappointed in the people of Buffalo right now. So many hard-working people walked the streets of the North district and spread the word about Sue Gillick, a candidate with all the right qualifications, a woman who would have fought hard for their schools and their kids, but they decided to go with the bartender anyway. Do not get me wrong, I am sure Jay McCarthy is a nice guy. How that qualifies him to make decisions about our schools is beyond me. Now the Buffalo school board will go without the strongest voice it had against the radical agenda of Carl Paladino, a profiteer out to line his pockets at the expense of our taxpayers and our children Continue reading
We are just a couple of weeks away from that time of year when taxpayers around the country decide who is going to sit on their school boards. In most city school districts this turns into a blame game. Incumbents blame parents for not pushing their kids hard enough, teachers’ unions for keeping “lazy” teachers, the superintendent for not keeping a watchful enough eye, the state for not providing enough funds to help, and even the students for the schools’ failings. Those seeking a spot on the board will throw in blame for the incumbents on top of that pile. It is the rare soul that suggests we just need to take a calm step back and ask ourselves: what has been working, what hasn’t been working, and what larger, societal, problems might be adding to these challenges. Continue reading
Until this week I had never heard anyone from the right attack Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry, the Tulane professor and MSNBC news show host who has brought to television a show that combines pathos and good reasoning. I am sure it has happened, but until now none of the big guns on the radical right have put her in their cross hairs. They were obviously just waiting for the best turn of phrase to attack, and when they saw their chance they pounced. Continue reading
Just to be perfectly clear: Mitt Romney has no plans on killing Big Bird. Our gigantic yellow friend is safe from the trophy mount, roasting pan, or where ever else a seven-foot tall fictional avian might go when he shuffles off his mortal coil. Continue reading
Apparently, for some little while now, white people have been having ethnic themed parties. Some are Asian, some are “Ghetto” (really, I’ve seen the word casually attached to posts about such parties) some are Indian (both East Indian and Native American) and some just a hodge-podge of ethnic stereotypes. Continue reading
(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace. (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
Education has always been important to me, even when I did not appreciate school (which was pretty much 7th -11th grade.) Despite the fact (or perhaps because of it) that my dad, by his own admission, barely graduated high school and my mom had to leave in the 10th grade to give birth to Yours Truly, they always put a high value on learning. Though we were relatively poor, by American standards, we always had a library, stocked from garage sales, library sales and spending a healthy portion of our disposable income in bookstores. We didn’t always have the coolest toys, but we had the best books.
We learned about marine biology from reading Jacques Cousteau, about the vastness of the universe by reading Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (as well as watching the series) and the formation of our system of government by reading the Federalist Papers. Broadening our minds was as much fun as it was useful and that is a gift I don’t think I could ever fully repay.
I was also fortunate to have some amazing teachers that encouraged my thirst for knowledge. Ms. Riley bought me my first microscope. Ms. Perlo let me have extra time on the computer, so long as I was using it to learn programming, as well as just generally boosting my identity as an eager learner. Mr. Verzella showed me the real power of words with his eloquence and his love of language.
It makes me sad to think that so many in the world do not have this absolutely essential resource available. It makes me even sadder that so many in the West take it for granted and even dislike it. Some deliberately undermine public education here, sometimes for economic reasons, sometimes for supposedly moral reasons.
That latter group is why I have to disagree, in part, with clause 3. Too many would take their children right out of school because it teaches things they disagree with. If you have an alternate vision of the world you want to teach your kids, by all means, do so, but there are certain fundamentals that they need to be able to grasp if they are going to be fully functional citizens. I don’t care whether the kitchen aid in a hospital I am staying at believes in evolution, I do care whether or not they can read which foods I am allergic to.
Of course there are some in power that would prefer a less educated populace. They view such a group as easier to manipulate, and there is truth to that. This of course means that an educated, charismatic opposition can also manipulate them. An educated people are a stable people, all other things being equal. That, and as I said, knowing is just fun.