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WHO'S PATRIOTIC?

11/1/01

   Do you hear anyone talking about education these days? The number one political issue has literally been blown away with the World Trade Center. Public debate as it currently exists appears to be solely about security measures and how much money our war against terrorism will take. To talk about the need to lure more people to teaching, the necessity to take bold steps to repair the crumbling education infrastructure, the difficulty of finding the money in a recessionary economy to maintain existing educational programs let alone for the funding of new ones - to talk about any of these in the current atmosphere sounds almost unpatriotic.

    Surely, however, a significant part of the love we share for this greatest and most unusual of countries is the opportunity we have as Americans to work toward the achievement of our human potential in an environment of freedom. For successive generations of Americans to have any hope of achieving their dreams certainly requires a system of public education. Our freedom itself, as the founding fathers well knew, depends on an educated and enlightened citizenry, most of whom can only be educated in public schools.

    I would suggest, therefore, that contrary to being unpatriotic, those who raise their voices in support of our nation’s children and the schools they learn in are passionate lovers of their country. They know that to allow our battle against those who despise our society to prevent us from addressing the needs of children and the least fortunate among us is truly unpatriotic and a denial of the very values that form the basis of this nation. It’s time to let our elected officials know that they can’t hide behind the flag. That flag was not meant to shield those who lack courage to meet their responsibilities. That flag is a symbol of a proud people who are repulsed by leaders who would permit the children in many of the nation’s schools to languish in conditions we associate with the third world.

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