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
Recently, my husband and I had an opportunity to listen to words of wisdom from Olympia Snowe, former Republican from Maine. Before retiring from politics in 2013, Snowe received an award from Forbes as the 54th most powerful woman in the world. Time magazine named her “The Caregiver” because of her work beyond partisan politics. I felt touched and inspired by remarks, which she shared at the Austin Annual Dinner for Planned Parenthood.
To many, Planned Parenthood brings up one thought: abortion. I totally understand resistance to abortion. I “get” it. However, I do not understand total rejection of all the good that Planned Parenthood delivers to women living in poverty. Abortions account for 3% of the services provided at PP. Most of the work includes: cervical tests for cancer, mammograms, family planning, prenatal care, and contraceptives. When we close Planned Parenthood centers, we throw the baby out with the bath. This particularly baffles me since federal money does not pay for abortions. Continue reading
What a challenge waking up to truth presents. How much more comforting to be lulled asleep by the incessant beat of popular cadences. Our lack of consciousness reassures us with claims such as “The undeserving poor take advantage of our goodness and scam the system. Muslims exist to terrify us and destroy our way of life. Blacks in America fill our prisons because they want to harm us.“
In wakefulness, we realize that life exists in shades of gray. Yes, some people take advantage of the system. We know a few Muslims plan and execute terrifying acts of violence. Many prisoners have black skins and vengeful intentions. However, painting everyone within a group with the same brush distorts truth. One Muslim terrorist does not make all Muslims the enemy. Not all black men create heinous crimes.
Whether you like Pope Francis or not, you must admit, the man speaks and lives in ways that change people’s hearts and minds. In doing so, Pope Frances changes the world.
Personally, I like this man of God. Although I am not Catholic, I appreciate his courage. Below, I share a few reasons for my deep respect for the pope.
- With his scientific background, this educated pope demonstrates intelligence and understanding about nature. On his recent trip to the United States, he urged followers to respect and abide by President Obama’s stand on climate change. When each of us arrived on earth, nature greeted us with visual canvases of splendor and symphonies of songs. Taking care of planet earth is nothing more than good stewardship. When we cap pollution, clean up our oceans, reduce smog, and seek alternative forms of energy, we honor God. Even if climate change has nothing to do with man’s behaviors, honoring the planet provides a concrete way to express thanks.
- Pope Francis encouraged the church to follow the teachings of Jesus by ministering to the poor, the sick, and the underprivileged. He did not recommend a checklist of required behaviors or conditions.
A major part of my adult life focused on supporting children in public education. I believed in public schools as a parent, a teacher, and later as a teacher educator at the university level. I continue to believe public schools form the bedrock of democracy; the hope for all children in this country. In the last few years, when Texas reduced school funding, I began to fear any bill that would deprive schools of needed money.
It sounds progressive to favor school choice. Equally pleasing is the backing that vouchers promise to parents who want their children educated in charter, private, or parochial schools. How can one be opposed to choice? What’s wrong with vouchers? Consider these facts before taking the leap away from public education. Continue reading