I wonder how many of us realize that a handful of very wealthy families actively spend time and money toward destroying public education? Dick DeVos, husband of Betsy DeVos, once said, “When given a clear choice, voters across the U.S. have consistently opposed school vouchers.” DeVos continued by asserting that the grassroots movement must be kept quiet. He suggested using the term “school choice” and spreading the idea one person at a time. Think tanks funded by Koch, Scaife, Bradley, Olin and other mega-donors claimed, “Because we know how the government schools perpetuate themselves, we can design a plan to dismantle them.” Dick and Betsy DeVos plan to execute this plan. Please understand this effort for what it is: a movement focused on total destruction of public education. Continue reading
The current plan to keep America safe anticipates deporting undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes. It seems like a good plan, doesn’t it? We all want our cities safe. What could possible be objectionable about a plan to protect the United States?
Sometimes, the finest plans do not work out quite as we envisioned. Please allow me to share a few unintended consequences associated with 278(g), which became law in September 1996. This law called upon local, county, and state law enforcement officers to assist ICE with identifying, processing and detaining immigrants. Although the idea sounded reasonable, consider the outcomes listed below:
- Instead of developing trust between police and communities, 287(g) promoted fear and suspicion. Police officers became enemies of the people.
- When communities perceived police as enemies, the lives of officers became endangered.
- Once community members became distrustful, they stopped asking for help. For example, a woman whose husband sexually molested their eight-year-old daughter became too anxious about deportation to ask for help. Had she been deported, the documented father would have stayed and kept the child with him.
- Deporting workers often removed key witnesses. After identifying a human traffic operation in an Arkansas restaurant, ICE deported all busboys, wait persons, and dishwashers. No witnesses remained to testify against the guilty owners who went free.
During a CNN interview, Jake Tapper stated, “Our worst threats come from home-grown terrorists.” Journalist Peter Bergen added “Every lethal terrorist attack in the United States in the past fifteen years has been carried out by American citizens or legal permanent residents, operating either as lone wolves or in pairs, who have no formal connections or training from terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda or ISIS.”
If the United States needs a preventive network to avoid producing those who would harm us, perhaps, no better place exists than our own public schools. Possibly homegrown terror begins with angry, disenfranchised, vengeful young people who believe life in the US has short-changed them. Vulnerable young people can easily become targets of outside propaganda.
What might cause young adults to become so engorged with venom that they turn against their own country? Continue reading
When asked if she would join a protest movement against the Viet Nam War, Mother Teresa replied that although she would not demonstrate against the war, she would march for peace.
In that spirit, Chris and I joined 50,000 others in Austin, Texas for the Women’s March on January 21, 2017. Instead of considering this a walk against the new president, I walked in support of values, which I consider basic human rights. My kind husband spent about 90 minutes helping people climb over the fence to get on Congress Avenue.
Racial Minorities— I walked to demonstrate support for racial equity. Racial discrimination may appear healed to many, but bigotry emerges alive and well. Those who believe we all get a fair shot at success believe in a myth. Allowing all citizens an equal playing field begins, but does not end with fair voting opportunities.
In the years following the 9/11 attacks, we changed as a people. Fear crept across our country invoking all manner of defensive reactions. Unfortunately, fear invites exaggerated suspicions and outright phobias.
Of course, we must always remain vigilant. No argument about that. We would be foolish not to vet all who request acceptance into our country. And yet, as horrifying as any threat from terrorists appears to be, we face an additional menace from groups of our own citizens.
“White Nationalists” and groups sympathetic to their thinking threaten to rip apart our core values. Increased activity from the Klu Klux Klan endangers our neighbors. Groups that emulate Nazi Germany insult our humanity. Hatred of our own citizens imperils everything this country values: Continue reading
For eight years, President and Mrs. Obama have been the leader and first lady of the most powerful nation in the world. He won not just one but two national, presidential elections. Did I always agree with his policies? No — not always. Sometimes I felt disappointed. However, I believe history will reveal that, even though saddled with a stubbornly partisan “do-nothing” congress, President Obama achieved many remarkable accomplishments.
In response to the cruelty often given to President Obama by some of our own citizens, he remained a gentle, yet courageous spokesman. To those who listened to his speeches, he frequently provided rich humor. As a couple, he and Michelle proved to be quality role models that all of us would be wise to copy. In the President’s final speech to the nation, he credited his wife, Michelle for bringing grace, grit, and style to the position of first lady. Vocabulary, behavior, presentation, and values shone brightly for the nation and the world. We will miss having a leader who always:
WILL EVIL TRIUMPH?
Even in the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, most people still remember that Christmas — this holy day began as a celebration of the birth of a baby boy. We also recall that this baby’s life did not originate in the United States. He most likely had dark hair, skin, and brown eyes. I hope you will watch the attached video until the end and that as you do so, you will consider facts about a birth we seek to honor.
I realize that the words of hatred expressed by the woman talking in this video must come from her own fears and feelings of inadequacy. That very baby we celebrate would ask us to forgive her. As other customers listen in silence to the woman’s words, their lack of response seems equally damning.
Edmund Burke reminds us, “THE ONLY THING NECESSARY FOR THE TRIUMPH OF EVIL IS FOR GOOD MEN TO DO NOTHING.” I have to ask myself, “If I had been in the crowd, would I have spoken up?” Speaking up would have been uncomfortable. I remind myself, and all of us, that opposing cruelties toward others no longer can be an option.
If, like silent sheep, we allow hate filled words and actions to remain unchallenged, the Baby’s life and His teachings will have been in vain.
It amazes me that some of us with lighter skin tones actually feel superior to our neighbors with darker complexions. How can anyone justify such a flimsy belief? Even more astounding, many of those who cling to white supremacy call themselves Christians. Do these self-proclaimed Christians not realize that Jesus himself, with his Arab roots, had dark skin?
Recently, at Texas A&M, a young man named Richard Spencer spoke about the “alt-right” (alternative right) concept, which encourages people of color to leave the United States and return to their countries of origin. I’m not sure what this means for Native Americans who roamed this country long before my European ancestors set foot on this continent. I also wonder about Latinos who lived in what we now call Texas before settlers arrived. Probably, Jesus would be invited to leave the country.
Each day, I remind myself, “We live in interesting times.” A second breath adds, “We live in frightening and uncertain times.” Can we depend on those in power to make positive changes? Maybe and maybe not. Can unimportant, unrecognized people — such as retired senior citizens hope to make even the most miniscule impact? Possibly but probably not.
Foolishly, I suppose, I think that the only genuine answer comes through living from a space of love. My closest friends suggest how silly I sound. I am reminded of the person seen throwing starfish back into the ocean. “Hey, man, don’t you know you aren’t making a difference?” The reply, as he threw another struggling form back to the water, “I made a difference for that one.” I too still want to make a difference.
So, for those of us who worry about:
- vouchers robbing low-income schools of revenue,
- guns overtaking sanity,
- conditions that continue to stack the decks against minority populations,
- wealthy augmenting their troves of riches while those in the middle income and below falter,
- destruction of the environment — the question remains, “What can we do?”
Unfortunately, an undeniable connection exists between poverty (the universal crippler) and minority populations. Although separate issues, race and poverty often exist hand in hand. As a result, we now have an unintended consequence known as the school to prison pipeline, which shifts students out of schools into the criminal justice system. We should not be surprised that this shift predominantly impacts Black male students. How do schools contribute to this loss of human potential?
When schools in low economic areas hire the least experienced teachers, they double the barriers to learning. When those same schools lack safe campuses, adequate curriculum materials, and personal school supplies, opportunities shrink. In cases where children lack stable homes or places to study, homework becomes a joke. Yes, these conditions require financial reserves to repair. Regardless of cost, citizens must demand the overhaul of schools. Inevitably, if we accept third-rate schools, the result will be that of a third world country. Continue reading