Tuesday, November 27, 2007
CHANGES ARE COMING
Some day soon we may be able to fly our flag in front of our home or business without signifying we are republicans supporting Bush’s war. Soon we may be able to wear a flag button on our lapels again, just to signify our patriotism, and escape the taint of being labeled a republican war supporter.
Perhaps we will soon be able to profess being a Christian without having a political pall cast over us. Maybe we can even be a Baptist again without pledging to a right wing political agenda.
There signs that the nation is awakening. The scandal soaked hypocrites in Washington, and the amoral, incompetent, and sometimes criminal Bush administration are finally becoming recognized as such. They are not fooling so many now.
People are recognizing there is little either patriotic or Christian about this war in Iraq, nor in the way it was sold to Americans and the world. Christians are recognizing that there is little that is Christian about fleecing the working class and starving the poor while the rich prosper.
Americans are recognizing that taking care of the poor, the widows, the orphans, the sick, the elderly, and the tragedy-stricken are acts of Christian charity, even when such acts are initiated and sponsored by democrats in government.
Christians are recognizing the there are more than two moral issues at stake in elections. Morality is broader than issues about gay unions or women’s rights to privacy and personal freedom.
Sick children without health insurance do not set well with good Christian Americans. The idea of the government taxing billionaires at a lower rate than their office staff is repulsive to the average American.
Most people think it is high time big business took a back seat to safety issues. They think that our government regulators ought to work for them, and that imports from offending nations should be cut off.
Conservatives don’t like budget deficits, trade deficits, and mounting national debt. Most are adverse toward foreign spending when Americans are in need of assistance with basic needs like health insurance.
American workers dislike their union wage industries being shipped off to some other part of the world. They are tired of technically educated personnel being imported from India to take the best jobs, tired of outsourcing good jobs beyond our borders, and tired of illegal labor from Mexico flooding in to take American jobs for lower wages.
It seems downright goofy to Americans for their own government to be outsourcing security-sensitive contracts to foreign companies. Most think the government should “buy American” with tax money.
People are tired of tax dodges for business income, and for the wealthy, while they pay their part by withholding from earnings at a job.
People in America are ready for changes, and both political parties had better start tuning in to the people.
Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate
Friday, November 16, 2007
That was last week. This week we cannot seem to agree upon the statistical definition of a dropout, nor can we agree on the validity of dropout data from our high schools.
However, it does appear that we have a “failure to complete” rate of somewhere around 25 to 40 percent. That is certainly sufficient for concern.
We know most of the usual explanations. These include broken homes, and parents who place little value on an academic education. There are economic pressures away from school and toward work in many homes. Some kids have never been successful in school, so they leave at earliest opportunity. Some are not “achievement oriented.”
What about the demands that we are making on our schools in the name of excellence? What about the revision of our high school curricular requirements to mirror entrance to major universities? What about squeezing vocational education out of high schools with requirements for three years math, three years science, four years of English, and so on?
Not only have we created a single curricular path through high school, but we have aligned all the incentives (OHLAP scholarships) and punishments (testing programs) to support that singular path. In so doing, we have severely restricted student opportunities, and limited the role of vocational-technical schools in teaching trades to high school students.
Our schools and our society are in trauma because once again in our history we are trying to fit every youngster into the same mold, regardless of interest or aptitudes. Now we look at the results of what we have done, and refuse to see our own handiwork.
Public education must recognize and accommodate individual differences. While education has an obligation to society to produce functional citizens, normally that obligation is best served by assisting each individual to develop his/her own potential.
We need multiple sets of standards for multiple curricular paths, and not a single set of standard academic curricular and testing hurdles by which half are doomed to discouragement and failure. Should we wonder that our dropout rate is not higher?
History has a strange way of repeating itself. A hundred years ago we thought about curriculum much like we do now, but then only a few attended high school. Fifty years ago we knew better, and most completed high school under a more flexible set of curricular requirements. But along comes another generation, and that wisdom has somehow been lost.
Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard
Friday, November 09, 2007
Through the dreary trenches of the Somme,
Until those bitter battles were all won,
And doughboys then came marching home.
From the steamy jungles of Guadalcanal
Back to the lonely shores of Bataan,
Living the horrors of the war banal,
Doing that which only free men can.
Across the jagged coastline of Inchon
Up and down bloody Pork Chop Hill,
Success in stopping red tide’s pawn,
Starting the test of America’s will.
Into the elusive battles of Vietnam,
With mission and purpose ill-defined,
Images of death a nightly program,
Nation in malaise; leaders maligned.
Next to the breech on Arabian sand,
America’s might and its will aligned,
Raise the colors and strike the band,
Patriot veterans gain peace of mind.
America is attacked by a foreign hand
Truth, reason, and might are ill aligned
But rushed by command into alien sand
No plan for the war or peace designed.
Divided by its leaders’ lies and deceit,
The nation flounders and mistakes repeat.
It will not recover its honor and repute,
Without leadership both honest and astute.
Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard
(A poem in progress from 1994 to 2007)