Race 2012, Platforms & Ideology

This nation has taken on the inequity of education at every level from K through university as part of the on-going debate. The question we have to ask ourselves is it only poverty that drives the inequity or is there something else at work is there a racial undercurrent, still. It is hard to ask the question, hard to look at the year and think back to the days of Civil Rights marches, sit-ins, busing and finally forced school integration and have to ask; have we really not come any further than this?

There are some things we can see in black and white, there is no question there is a lack of parity. What is not so easy to determine is why. It is easy to say this is pure institutional racism, brush our hands together and move on to the next subject. Is that enough, have we solved the riddle? I don’t think we have, the inequity built into our education system has been with us for a very long time, it is the outcome of how we fund and administer our local schools. It is only natural, eventually, as poverty forces people together into communities, schools along with other services would suffer the consequence of economic decline.

It isn’t just poverty that divides us. Unless we cannot absolutely avoid it, we will always seek out communities where we are comfortable. We will always seek out a place to settle where the people look like us and sound like us.

Ruby Bridges, New Orleans 1960

It is natural, we might not even realize we are doing it; it is our own deep-seated fears and underlying prejudice driving us on, informing our choices. We might not be Racist, we might not be a raging flaming outright Bigot but these are very different animals from carrying that seed of fear and that ember of racial bias. We are by nature Xenophobic; we fear what is different from us.

I am not a Racist!

Except where racism is overt, where the neo-Nazis, KKK and others of their ilk march down city streets decked out in well-pressed sheets or Para-military gear, racism hides behind polite social forms. Since the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 there have been changes in what is accepted in our public discourse regarding race we have even found a racial etiquette, at least until recently. This etiquette though, this burying of the Jim Crow era overtness has given way to new resentments and new racial dog-whistles.

  • Government Intervention
  • Welfare
  • Affirmative Action
  • Title I
  • Drug War

What does all this mean when it comes to education? It is an unfortunate truth, the very communities that have been ripped apart by our failed policies and barely concealed bias, have failing schools. We covertly accept some children, within some communities will not thrive and thus set up the circumstances for them to fail while paying lip service to hoped for success.

I am not going to try to hide my disdain today; the following quotes are taken directly from the GOP Platform, you can read all about their thoughts starting on page 35 [2]:

The Republican Party is the party of fresh and innovative ideas in education.

periodic rigorous assessments on the fundamentals, especially math, science, reading, history, and geography; renewed focus on the Constitution and the writings of the Founding Fathers, and an accurate account of American history that celebrates the birth of this great nation;

We renew our call for replacing “family planning” programs for teens with abstinence education which teaches abstinence until marriage as the responsible and respected standard of behavior. Abstinence from sexual activity is the only protection that is 100 percent effective against out-of-wedlock pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS when transmitted sexually. It is effective, science-based, and empowers teens to achieve optimal health outcomes and avoid risks of sexual activity.

We support keeping federal funds from being used in mandatory or universal mental health, psychiatric, or socio-emotional screening programs.

Republican Governors have led in the effort to reform our country’s under performing education system, and we applaud these advancements.

Now let me just quickly give some examples of what one Republican Governor has done as part of the reform of his under performing system.

  • Removed Thomas Jefferson from history books as part of the Enlightenment. Why you ask? Well because he was a known Deist who coined the phrase “separation of Church and state”; can’t have that coming out of the mouths of one of our Founding Fathers. He is still in the History Books, obviously can’t remove him completely but he isn’t mentioned as one of the key figures of the Enlightenment.[1]
  • Added a section called the unintended consequences of Affirmative Action. In the meantime, there is a section about the positive aspects of slavery in America and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade is now referred to simply as ‘Atlantic Triangular Trade’. [1]

Can you begin to guess who this genius of Educational reform is? This stellar representative of a GOP Right Wing-nut might be? This would be President? Oh, I won’t hold you in suspense; it is my very own Governor Rick Perry. Only in Texas would they think to screw the pooch of Education this deep, keeping in mind a very large portion of our students are poor, Hispanic or Black.

The GOP promotes school choice, so do I so should we all. The GOP also promotes vouchers and privatization of our education system, here is where the GOP and I part ways. Families with no means to send their children outside of their communities, no transportation, no extra funds for school uniforms will not be in a position to ‘choose’ schools outside of their immediate communities. School choice is only for those with true choices, true means beyond the single ‘voucher’ for tuition and possibly books. The meme of borrowing money from your parents doesn’t begin to touch on what poverty means to those whose entire communities have been decimated by it.

Private industry will not build schools or invest in communities that represent no return on that investment, no profit. What does this mean? It means public funds will be all that remains and will be even more limited so long as we continue to limit public funding to property tax collection. It means after the Unions have been busted, public school teacher ranks have been further demonized and decimated and school text have been bastardized by boards with agendas, our children our future will be left in failing systems with no hope and no future.

Is this Race Based? It is poverty based and has the unintentional effect of further kicking the can down the road, closing the door on dreams and opportunity for those who would like to live the once real American Dream.

Is this Race Based? Perhaps a more important question is this truly unintentional or is it simply the new more polite Jim Crow.




[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/education/13texas.html?_r=0

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/22/education/22texas.html?fta=y

[2] http://whitehouse12.com/republican-party-platform/


I am Apostate

Dipity.com Image

Off the rails, as a nation we have taken our hand off the brake and are watching with morbid fascination as society runs headlong into complete collapse. I do not say this lightly, in fact I have spent a great deal of time considering the ramifications of making this statement at all. Nevertheless, I think if someone doesn’t speak up than how are we to begin to have discussions that perhaps stop the runaway train before it hits the damaged trestle and falls straight down into the abyss.

My generation was supposed to change the world. We marched with Dr. King for Civil Rights, many stood up for change even against generations of tradition within their own families. We cheered when SCOTUS found in favor of the Lovings and put an end to the miscegenation laws. We stood up and protested the Vietnam War and the meaningless deaths of our friends and family for corporate greed, yes we knew even then why war this war was being fought.

We believed in giving back and reaching out, we followed a President who believed in the same things, from this, the Peace Corp was created and we filled its ranks. My generation was supposed to change the world. We decried violence, yet saw our heroes gunned down: John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X. We recognized the threats to our ecology by our own actions and from this were born both the Sierra Club and Environmental Movement. We denounced greed and from this, the first voice for Consumer Protection rose up in Ralph Nader.

Warren Court 1962-65 Courtesy of Oyez.com

Finally our generation recognized the disparity in treatment of women in our society, from this Women’s Liberation was born in part  helped by the introduction of the Birth Control pill and the agreement of the Supreme Court that women had the legal right to control their reproductive health.

Yet here we are today, forty-three years after the end of the sixties the decade of great upheaval and dramatic social change and we are off the rails, heading for the abyss and I don’t believe we are talking about the real problems facing us.

I was twelve years old in 1969. I am grateful to those who came before me

Me 1962

and fought for the rights and privileges we
enjoy today. Those who faced jail, violence
and social condemnation so I could marry
whom I chose, pursue the career I chose,
attend the school I chose and manage my
reproductive choices and health.

I am grateful for my voice! For the voice I raised in protest of wrongs since I was old enough to understand it could be raised, I have raised it. Now though it seems my voice, all of our voices are silenced by the clatter of a much louder and insidious blast of sound, the counting of coins. We are convinced now our value is only counted by the zero’s behind the dollar signs or diminished by their lack.

What has happened? It isn’t any one thing, instead it must be a concoction of many parts that have come together to form a toxic brew we are willingly imbibing.

1969 War Protest Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Why are we so willing to sit back in silence? So willing to hand over privileges and rights to those who have no dog in the fight beyond their own self-glorification and this they have certainly done nothing to earn. Why are we not standing on the steps of Congress and the White House, flooding the streets in protest and demanding our voices be heard above the braying of the obnoxious and hate filled rhetoric of the ideologues streaming through every media outlet today.

I ask this question, yet I am afraid of the answer. I am afraid because the answer might be we view political grandstanding as simply another form of entertainment. We enjoy the show and have forgotten in our lethargy it is not entertainment; it is in fact our future, it is in fact the hand on the brake. The posturing of all those who would be king, is more than entertainment it is the fuel that will break us as a nation, turning friends into enemies and dividing families. The bombastic language combined with ideologies that barely mask the intent to divide us is frightening more because of what it says about our acceptance of open hostility against those unable to defend themselves.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Our attention is misdirected and we allow it! We seem content to watch as our options are stripped from us, our opportunities vanish and our voices are silenced under the weight of our exhaustion and our debt. To speak up and speak out will soon mean to be Apostate, perhaps there will be a stake awaiting me in the village square. Nevertheless, I simply cannot sit silent and motionless on a runaway train, can you?

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