Tuesday, January 10, 2017

What do you mean "Time to Accept the Results?"

There have been lots of folks who are weary of the election season, who see the protests and complaints from those who voted for Ms. Clinton and over and over say "Just get over it." An Open Form in the Daily News Record yesterday (1/9/17) offered yet another plea that "Its Time to Accept the Results."  

The writer was responding to another Open Forum written on December 27, 2016 by Dr. Mwizenge Tembo, professor of Sociology at Bridgewater College who offered a very strong rebuke Mr. Trump and those who supported him in the past election. Comparing the political campaign of Mr. Trump to the behavior of an abusive spouse. He drew parallels between an abusive spouse and the way Mr. Trump bullied, lied, and used rhetorical violence to win the highest office in the land.

This writer used the same metaphor in response. Isn’t it also “spiteful” and “vitriolic?” Mr. Tembo’s metaphor is painful to think about but it effectively communicated the voice of those who believe that Mr. Trump disrespected, bullied and lied his way to the Presidency. It also voiced our concerns that many millions of Americans found his message appealing. Friends, there is real fear in the hearts of many Americans who voted for other candidates. Mr. Tembo used a metaphor that accurately described that fear.

Mr. Trump and those who voted for him will hear from all those who think he lied and bullied his way to the Presidency. They will be questioned often why they could support a person who uses his power and position to abuse the less powerful and the weak.  They will be questioned on why a wealthy and powerful businessman should be able to continue wheeling and dealing expanding a personal fortune. They will especially be questioned on why the levers of power should be handed to the wealthiest, most privileged persons on earth who have never served the public and who have always and only worked to build their own wealth and power.

We can’t get over this until at least a modicum of respect returns to the political debate, we  repudiate the “ends justifies the means” and show less dependence on excess outrage. We can't get over this until we stop referring to "mainstream Americans" and then everyone else. We can’t recover from this long, ugly political season as long as the response to the fear is to “just get over it.” Meryl Streep said it best, 
“Disrespect invites disrespect, violent incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.”
More work to do...

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Mr. Obenshain, Education Reformer? Be warned...

Mr. Obenshain is at it again. Solving problems that don’t exist. Charter schools? Really? Mr. Obenshain and the Virginia GOP are late comers to the whole charter school reform movement which has been going on since the mid 90's. It's an idea that started out with some promise but has been largely co-opted by "reformers" who wish to take public funds to support privatization of schools. 

The reform movement has been around long enough that the research has been done, and the results are clear. Charters don't improve education of children.  Charters have come to be a way of segregating the schools between the haves and have nots, the disabled and the abled, the religious zealots and the simply religious. 

I’ll say this again because it is such an important part of the Virginia GOP DNA, this is a solution for a problem that does not exist. Virginia’s public schools do a magnificent job of educating our children within the parameters that already exist. Programs are already in place for differentiated learning opportunities providing flexibility for students, teachers, and parents. Public schools are mandated to accept ALL students and provide the absolute best education possible for ALL of them. 

Charter schools divert money from the public schools and allow public funding of private schools. Private schools do not have to accept all students. Studies show that pretty soon, to keep their accreditation, they begin to cull students for various reasons finding ways that they don’t measure up. Then it’s back to the public schools. 

There is a pretty big pile of money sitting there in the education budget for public schools. Mr. Obenshein and his fellow reformers want to siphon off some of that cash and give it to the educational corporations that always follow the creation of charter schools. If the state gets involved, the proliferation of charter schools increases, privatization ensues and education becomes profitable but not better. 

“Students? Children? Oh… they’ll be ok.  Anyway, mine are safe in a charter school.”

For more about Charter Schools and their unique relationship to Public Education go here and spend some time reading.

More work to do… Brent Holl