With the conclusion of, arguably, the most historic day in the 200+ years of the United States, it’s now time to get down to business - the business of repairing the psyche of the country. The economy is at an all-time low (as far as the living are concerned), so abysmal that, although I haven’t conducted a formal poll, there’s no one I know nor have spoken with, who hasn’t taken a severe (up to 40%, for some even more of their net worth) hit. That’s not to say everyone I know is suffering financially, in fact, some are even flourishing, but more people than not - a whole lot more people than not - are hurtin’ - and hurtin’ real bad.
Next (and I say “next” only because everything pales in comparison to the economy) we have the situations (wars) in Irag and Afghanistan. Should we stay, leave, or intensify our efforts? On this topic, few people are ambivalent. Some feel war is an inhuman act and should be avoided at all costs; others have a more practical understanding of history, i.e. that occasionally war is a necssary evil and in the cases of these two wars, our presence is not only vital, but we’re accomplishing what we set out to do.
September 11 will never be erased from anyone’s mind who lived through it and what the administration is doing to protect us here at home is also of paramount importance to this new regime, so add that time worthy topic to the discussion.
Since my career has been in the field of education, I would hope, rather than the lip service education’s been receiving for(ever) so many years, that now would be a time, although, naturally, money is scarce, to give actual assistance to the world of education. I’ve heard, mainly from my friends in business that “The Business of America is Business.” Well, considering the mess we’re in now, due, granted to a small minority of sleazebag businessmen (led by Bernie “A Billion Isn’t Enough, I Need Fifty” Madoff), that slogan can be amended to “The Downfall of America is Business.”
By helping education, it would be wise to have people pass laws only after hearing from those who have actually spent time teaching in a classroom. This would eliminate the Pollyanna-ish, and completely unrealistic, No Child Left Behind Act. As a dedicated, lifelong teacher I know said, “We don’t leave anyone behind. Some just choose to stay.” Spoken like a person who’s been in the “battlefield.” While I’m on the subject of absolute absurdities, let me touch on the latest plan destined to fail - that of forcing every student to complete Algebra I in the eighth grade. I’ve taught Algebra I in the ninth grade for nine years (two of them from 1970-72 and the remaining seven from 2002-2009). There were ninth graders who couldn’t handle the subject matter then and there are ninth graders who can’t handle it now. Whoever came up with this idea must be in administration because it has administrator written all over it. If once these coffee drinking, non-teaching bureaucrats would spend one hour trying to teach a freshman Algebra I class, this proposal would be scrapped as quickly as requiring restaurants to reverse their no smoking policy. Unless and until Ron Clark and Jaime Escalante are ready to teach every eighth grade Algebra I class in the nation, throw this plan in the garbage and talk about more important educational necessities - like anything.
Something the U.S. is not lacking is a plethora of brilliant minds - in all of the problem areas mentioned above. It does seem as though President Obama has surrounded himself with an impressive mastermind group of people with wisdom, and while their intelligence is unquestioned, let’s hope their imagination is in as abundant supply because as Albert Einstein once said:
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Memory is past. It is finite. Vision is future. It is infinite.”