Voting and Learning Denied. Education and Entitlement

©copyright 2013. Betsy L. Angert BeThink



Is it fear of the darkness that dims our mind or is it the dim of our mind that is dark and damning?  No one can be sure; however we can see what occurs and ask why.  Why might Americans systematically deny rights to people of color? Why might the young, the most vulnerable among us, be victims of prey?  Indeed, why do we prejudge people at all and why is it that even the elderly cannot escape our diabolical doings?  The theories abound; answers escape us.  Nevertheless, the veracity is our truth. The right to learn and the right to vote are denied.

We close their schools, deny them an equal and equitable education, and in 2013 we may ultimately rescind the voting rights of the few.  In January of this year, the Journey For Justice 2 Alliance met with officials in Washington, District of Columbia, to discuss the topic, education policies that discriminate.  Today, on February 27, 2013, just down the lane from the Department of Education hearing, another inquiry was held.  The Supreme Court heard the case, Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder.  On the face of it, the argument may seem separate from the subject of school closures.  However, considering the consequences of what might be after a day of testimony,  Voting Rights Law Draws Skepticism From Justices, there is reason for concern.  Will the cycle of recrimination continue? Will we curse the darkness that is our own?  

Perhaps, we might seek the light? We saw it once and embraced it.  It exists and can again, if we just walk through the window of time.  Luminosity can be our guide. Let us consider a vital voice from the past, President, Lyndon Baines Johnson spoke in defense of the Voting Rights Act. He said…

The Negro citizen may go to register only to be told that the day is wrong, or the hour is late, or the official in charge is absent. And if he persists and, if he manages to present himself to the registrar, he may be disqualified because he did not spell out his middle name, or because he abbreviated a word on the application. And if he manages to fill out an application, he is given a test. The registrar is the sole judge of whether he passes this test. He may be asked to recite the entire Constitution, or explain the most complex provisions of state law.

And even a college degree cannot be used to prove that he can read and write. For the fact is that the only way to pass these barriers is to show a white skin. Experience has clearly shown that the existing process of law cannot overcome systematic and ingenious discrimination.

“Discrimination.”  It touches more than one race, color, or creed.  Age too in 2012 limited or eliminated the right to vote.  96-Year-Old Tennessee Woman Denied Voter ID Because She Didn’t Have Her Marriage License. Va. senior citizens denied no-excuse absentee voting. Where you lived, whether you attended school far from home, or if you merely left whatever document requested at home, you could not cast a ballot.  The excuses used to negate voting rights are as they were in the 1960s, endless. Yet, Supreme Court Jurists affirm, “Justice is blind.”

From the bench we were provided with a rare view, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia cannot see. Roberts reeled off statistics that suggested the provisions are no longer made sense. Justice Antonin Scalia said the law, once a civil rights landmark, now is but a “perpetuation of racial entitlement. “Entitlement? Might we tell the parents of children who are today, denied access to equal and equitable education the time has past? Their offspring no longer have the rights afforded to the many, mostly white Americans?  Was learning given a limited contract? Is it now considered a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.

Voting and learning. Education and entitlement. Let us look at the evidence.  Complaint says Omaha voters denied ballots. Rick Scott Defends Voter Purge As Necessary ‘To Have Fair Elections’.   Republican Voter Suppression Campaign Rolls Back Early Voting.  The beat goes on.  

Please ponder the veracity that not only are our Black and Brown children affected by punitive polices that allow for “phase-outs,” “collocations,” “turnaround,” and again, the devastating “school closures,” others too are impacted.  Consider the white suburban Mom and her children, School turnarounds prompt community backlash. Again ask yourself; do we fear the darkness or does the darkness, lack of knowledge with us, dim the mind.

Do we deny light to those who wish to learn and live?  What have we denied ourselves or within us?  Let us, one and all learn!  Let us seek the light.  Today, let us consider what could occur if access to an education and, or the right to vote are denied. Might a child less prepared, less learned, due to the discriminatory actions in education policy be unable to prove he can read and write? Currently, literacy in America is in crisis. 11 Facts about Literacy in America

  • An estimated 30 million Americans over 16 years old cannot perform simple and everyday literacy activities.
  • 55% of adults with below basic reading comprehension did not graduate high school.
  • Only an estimated 13% of adult Americans can perform complex and challenging literacy activities.

Consider today and what occurred decades ago. Please ask yourself, do we deny access to education and to voting rights. If we do, what will become of our children and our country?

President Lyndon B. Johnson – We Shall Overcome



I speak tonight for the dignity of man and the destiny of Democracy. I urge every member of both parties, Americans of all religions and of all colors, from every section of this country, to join me in that cause.

At times, history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama. There, long suffering men and women peacefully protested the denial of their rights as Americans. Many of them were brutally assaulted. One good man–a man of God–was killed.

There is no cause for pride in what has happened in Selma. There is no cause for self-satisfaction in the long denial of equal rights of millions of Americans. But there is cause for hope and for faith in our Democracy in what is happening here tonight. For the cries of pain and the hymns and protests of oppressed people have summoned into convocation all the majesty of this great government–the government of the greatest nation on earth. Our mission is at once the oldest and the most basic of this country–to right wrong, to do justice, to serve man. In our time we have come to live with the moments of great crises. Our lives have been marked with debate about great issues, issues of war and peace, issues of prosperity and depression.

But rarely in any time does an issue lay bare the secret heart of America itself. Rarely are we met with a challenge, not to our growth or abundance, or our welfare or our security, but rather to the values and the purposes and the meaning of our beloved nation. The issue of equal rights for American Negroes is such an issue. And should we defeat every enemy, and should we double our wealth and conquer the stars, and still be unequal to this issue, then we will have failed as a people and as a nation. For, with a country as with a person, “what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem.

And we are met here tonight as Americans–not as Democrats or Republicans; we’re met here as Americans to solve that problem. This was the first nation in the history of the world to be founded with a purpose.

The great phrases of that purpose still sound in every American heart, North and South: “All men are created equal.” “Government by consent of the governed.” “Give me liberty or give me death.” And those are not just clever words, and those are not just empty theories. In their name Americans have fought and died for two centuries and tonight around the world they stand there as guardians of our liberty risking their lives. Those words are promised to every citizen that he shall share in the dignity of man. This dignity cannot be found in a man’s possessions. It cannot be found in his power or in his position. It really rests on his right to be treated as a man equal in opportunity to all others. It says that he shall share in freedom. He shall choose his leaders, educate his children, provide for his family according to his ability and his merits as a human being.

To apply any other test, to deny a man his hopes because of his color or race or his religion or the place of his birth is not only to do injustice, it is to deny Americans and to dishonor the dead who gave their lives for American freedom. Our fathers believed that if this noble view of the rights of man was to flourish it must be rooted in democracy. This most basic right of all was the right to choose your own leaders. The history of this country in large measure is the history of expansion of the right to all of our people.

Many of the issues of civil rights are very complex and most difficult. But about this there can and should be no argument: every American citizen must have an equal right to vote. There is no reason, which can excuse the denial of that right. There is no duty which weighs more heavily on us than the duty we have to insure that right. Yet the harsh fact is that in many places in this country men and women are kept from voting simply because they are Negroes.

Every device of which human ingenuity is capable, has been used to deny this right. The Negro citizen may go to register only to be told that the day is wrong, or the hour is late, or the official in charge is absent. And if he persists and, if he manages to present himself to the registrar, he may be disqualified because he did not spell out his middle name, or because he abbreviated a word on the application. And if he manages to fill out an application, he is given a test. The registrar is the sole judge of whether he passes this test. He may be asked to recite the entire Constitution, or explain the most complex provisions of state law.

And even a college degree cannot be used to prove that he can read and write. For the fact is that the only way to pass these barriers is to show a white skin. Experience has clearly shown that the existing process of law cannot overcome systematic and ingenious discrimination. No law that we now have on the books, and I have helped to put three of them there, can insure the right to vote when local officials are determined to deny it. In such a case, our duty must be clear to all of us. The Constitution says that no person shall be kept from voting because of his race or his color.

We have all sworn an oath before God to support and to defend that Constitution. We must now act in obedience to that oath. Wednesday, I will send to Congress a law designed to eliminate illegal barriers to the right to vote. The broad principles of that bill will be in the hands of the Democratic and Republican leaders tomorrow. After they have reviewed it, it will come here formally as a bill. I am grateful for this opportunity to come here tonight at the invitation of the leadership to reason with my friends, to give them my views and to visit with my former colleagues.

I have had prepared a more comprehensive analysis of the legislation which I had intended to transmit to the clerk tomorrow, but which I will submit to the clerks tonight. But I want to really discuss the main proposals of this legislation. This bill will strike down restrictions to voting in all elections, federal, state and local, which have been used to deny Negroes the right to vote.

This bill will establish a simple, uniform standard which cannot be used, however ingenious the effort, to flout our Constitution. It will provide for citizens to be registered by officials of the United States Government, if the state officials refuse to register them. It will eliminate tedious, unnecessary lawsuits which delay the right to vote. Finally, this legislation will insure that properly registered individuals are not prohibited from voting. I will welcome the suggestions from all the members of Congress–I have no doubt that I will get some–on ways and means to strengthen this law and to make it effective.

But experience has plainly shown that this is the only path to carry out the command of the Constitution. To those who seek to avoid action by their national government in their home communities, who want to and who seek to maintain purely local control over elections, the answer is simple: open your polling places to all your people. Allow men and women to register and vote whatever the color of their skin. Extend the rights of citizenship to every citizen of this land. There is no Constitutional issue here. The command of the Constitution is plain. There is no moral issue. It is wrong–deadly wrong–to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country.

There is no issue of state’s rights or national rights. There is only the struggle for human rights. I have not the slightest doubt what will be your answer. But the last time a President sent a civil rights bill to the Congress it contained a provision to protect voting rights in Federal elections. That civil rights bill was passed after eight long months of debate. And when that bill came to my desk from the Congress for signature, the heart of the voting provision had been eliminated.

This time, on this issue, there must be no delay, or no hesitation, or no compromise with our purpose. We cannot, we must not, refuse to protect the right of every American to vote in every election that he may desire to participate in.

And we ought not, and we cannot, and we must not wait another eight months before we get a bill. We have already waited 100 years and more and the time for waiting is gone. So I ask you to join me in working long hours and nights and weekends, if necessary, to pass this bill. And I don’t make that request lightly, for, from the window where I sit, with the problems of our country, I recognize that from outside this chamber is the outraged conscience of a nation, the grave concern of many nations and the harsh judgment of history on our acts.

But even if we pass this bill the battle will not be over. What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and state of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause too. Because it’s not just Negroes, but really it’s all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.

And we shall overcome.

As a man whose roots go deeply into Southern soil, I know how agonizing racial feelings are. I know how difficult it is to reshape the attitudes and the structure of our society. But a century has passed–more than 100 years–since the Negro was freed. And he is not fully free tonight. It was more than 100 years ago that Abraham Lincoln–a great President of another party–signed the Emancipation Proclamation. But emancipation is a proclamation and not a fact.

A century has passed–more than 100 years–since equality was promised, and yet the Negro is not equal. A century has passed since the day of promise, and the promise is unkept. The time of justice has now come, and I tell you that I believe sincerely that no force can hold it back. It is right in the eyes of man and God that it should come, and when it does, I think that day will brighten the lives of every American. For Negroes are not the only victims. How many white children have gone uneducated? How many white families have lived in stark poverty? How many white lives have been scarred by fear, because we wasted energy and our substance to maintain the barriers of hatred and terror?

And so I say to all of you here and to all in the nation tonight that those who appeal to you to hold on to the past do so at the cost of denying you your future. This great rich, restless country can offer opportunity and education and hope to all–all, black and white, North and South, sharecropper and city dweller. These are the enemies: poverty, ignorance, disease. They are our enemies, not our fellow man, not our neighbor.

And these enemies too–poverty, disease and ignorance–we shall overcome.

Now let none of us in any section look with prideful righteousness on the troubles in another section or the problems of our neighbors. There is really no part of America where the promise of equality has been fully kept. In Buffalo as well as in Birmingham, in Philadelphia as well as Selma, Americans are struggling for the fruits of freedom.

This is one nation. What happens in Selma and Cincinnati is a matter of legitimate concern to every American. But let each of us look within our own hearts and our own communities and let each of us put our shoulder to the wheel to root out injustice wherever it exists. As we meet here in this peaceful historic chamber tonight, men from the South, some of whom were at Iwo Jima, men from the North who have carried Old Glory to the far corners of the world and who brought it back without a stain on it, men from the east and from the west are all fighting together without regard to religion or color or region in Vietnam.

Men from every region fought for us across the world 20 years ago. And now in these common dangers, in these common sacrifices, the South made its contribution of honor and gallantry no less than any other region in the great republic.

And in some instances, a great many of them, more. And I have not the slightest doubt that good men from everywhere in this country, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Golden Gate to the harbors along the Atlantic, will rally now together in this cause to vindicate the freedom of all Americans. For all of us owe this duty and I believe that all of us will respond to it.

Your president makes that request of every American.

The real hero of this struggle is the American Negro. His actions and protests, his courage to risk safety, and even to risk his life, have awakened the conscience of this nation. His demonstrations have been designed to call attention to injustice, designed to provoke change; designed to stir reform. He has been called upon to make good the promise of America.

And who among us can say that we would have made the same progress were it not for his persistent bravery and his faith in American democracy? For at the real heart of the battle for equality is a deep-seated belief in the democratic process. Equality depends, not on the force of arms or tear gas, but depends upon the force of moral right–not on recourse to violence, but on respect for law and order.

There have been many pressures upon your President and there will be others as the days come and go. But I pledge to you tonight that we intend to fight this battle where it should be fought–in the courts, and in the Congress, and the hearts of men. We must preserve the right of free speech and the right of free assembly. But the right of free speech does not carry with it–as has been said–the right to holler fire in a crowded theatre.

We must preserve the right to free assembly. But free assembly does not carry with it the right to block public thoroughfares to traffic. We do have a right to protest. And a right to march under conditions that do not infringe the Constitutional rights of our neighbors. And I intend to protect all those rights as long as I am permitted to serve in this office.

We will guard against violence, knowing it strikes from our hands the very weapons which we seek–progress, obedience to law, and belief in American values. In Selma, as elsewhere, we seek and pray for peace. We seek order, we seek unity, but we will not accept the peace of stifled rights or the order imposed by fear, or the unity that stifles protest–for peace cannot be purchased at the cost of liberty.

In Selma tonight–and we had a good day there–as in every city we are working for a just and peaceful settlement. We must all remember after this speech I’m making tonight, after the police and the F.B.I. and the Marshals have all gone, and after you have promptly passed this bill, the people of Selma and the other cities of the nation must still live and work together.

And when the attention of the nation has gone elsewhere they must try to heal the wounds and to build a new community. This cannot be easily done on a battleground of violence as the history of the South itself shows. It is in recognition of this that men of both races have shown such an outstandingly impressive responsibility in recent days–last Tuesday and again today.

The bill I am presenting to you will be known as a civil rights bill. But in a larger sense, most of the program I am recommending is a civil rights program. Its object is to open the city of hope to all people of all races, because all Americans just must have the right to vote, and we are going to give them that right.

All Americans must have the privileges of citizenship, regardless of race, and they are going to have those privileges of citizenship regardless of race.

But I would like to caution you and remind you that to exercise these privileges takes much more than just legal rights. It requires a trained mind and a healthy body. It requires a decent home and the chance to find a job and the opportunity to escape from the clutches of poverty.

Of course people cannot contribute to the nation if they are never taught to read or write; if their bodies are stunted from hunger; if their sickness goes untended; if their life is spent in hopeless poverty, just drawing a welfare check.

So we want to open the gates to opportunity. But we’re also going to give all our people, black and white, the help that they need to walk through those gates. My first job after college was as a teacher in Cotulla, Texas, in a small Mexican-American school. Few of them could speak English and I couldn’t speak much Spanish. My students were poor and they often came to class without breakfast and hungry. And they knew even in their youth the pain of prejudice. They never seemed to know why people disliked them, but they knew it was so because I saw it in their eyes.

I often walked home late in the afternoon after the classes were finished wishing there was more that I could do. But all I knew was to teach them the little that I knew, hoping that I might help them against the hardships that lay ahead. And somehow you never forget what poverty and hatred can do when you see its scars on the hopeful face of a young child.

I never thought then, in 1928, that I would be standing here in 1965. It never even occurred to me in my fondest dreams that I might have the chance to help the sons and daughters of those students, and to help people like them all over this country. But now I do have that chance.

And I’ll let you in on a secret–I mean to use it. And I hope that you will use it with me.

This is the richest, most powerful country which ever occupied this globe. The might of past empires is little compared to ours. But I do not want to be the president who built empires, or sought grandeur, or extended dominion.

I want to be the president who educated young children to the wonders of their world. I want to be the President who helped to feed the hungry and to prepare them to be taxpayers instead of tax eaters. I want to be the President who helped the poor to find their own way and who protected the right of every citizen to vote in every election. I want to be the President who helped to end hatred among his fellow men and who promoted love among the people of all races, all regions and all parties. I want to be the President who helped to end war among the brothers of this earth.

And so, at the request of your beloved Speaker and the Senator from Montana, the Majority Leader, the Senator from Illinois, the Minority Leader, Mr. McCullock and other members of both parties, I came here tonight, not as President Roosevelt came down one time in person to veto a bonus bill; not as President Truman came down one time to urge passage of a railroad bill, but I came down here to ask you to share this task with me. And to share it with the people that we both work for.

I want this to be the Congress–Republicans and Democrats alike–which did all these things for all these people. Beyond this great chamber–out yonder–in fifty states are the people that we serve. Who can tell what deep and unspoken hopes are in their hearts tonight as they sit there and listen? We all can guess, from our own lives, how difficult they often find their own pursuit of happiness, how many problems each little family has. They look most of all to themselves for their future, but I think that they also look to each of us.

Above the pyramid on the Great Seal of the United States it says in latin, “God has favored our undertaking.” God will not favor everything that we do. It is rather our duty to divine His will. But I cannot help but believe that He truly understands and that He really favors the undertaking that we begin here tonight.

President Lyndon B. Johnson – March 15, 1965

References and Resources…

Dump Duncan. The Power of a Plan versus Petition

copyright © 2012 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

The Powell Plan understood what the Dump Duncan advocates seem to have missed.  “The Medium is the Message.”  Melodic Messages such as “Freedom” and “Individual Choice” Move the Masses. Move the Masses. Money is less Meaningful than a Mission that Gives Voice to a Shared Vision.

What does a memorandum scribed more than a two score ago have to do with a present-day petition?  Everything!  Granted, on the surface there are few if any similarities beyond the veracity that each addresses education.   One is an archaic collection of suggestions.  The other is a contemporary polemic petition.  The latter has an immediate punch.  The language is forceful.  The sentiments are fervent.  Signers of the Dump Duncan supplication submit, we “wish to express our extreme displeasure,” followed by a threat. “It is unlikely that you will receive continued support unless…”  The plea is addressed solely to the President of the United States, Barack Obama.  The former, known as The Powell Memo, while a quiet communiqué, became a catalyst for lasting and profound change.    The latter “Dump Duncan!” document, however, will likely die a quiet death.  Why might this be?

A word; which has a wide appeal, propagates the Powell dossier. “Freedom.” The stance silently stated and shared with many was “the truth is that freedom as a concept is indivisible.” Indeed, even those who wish to Dump Duncan might agree.  After all, endorsers of Duncan initiative seek also emancipation.  Signatories seek freedom from No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top mandates and the man who enforces such unyielding legislation.

Freedom is a concept that resonates within us all.  However liberty from this particular Secretary of Education does little to excite most Americans.  In truth, despite a devotion to Party or position innumerable individuals think Arne Duncan is doing a fine job.  Thus the reason the Dump Duncan dictum did little to move the masses.  Meanwhile, the Powell Manifesto moved and moves us all, like a ghost never gone with the wind.

Readers respond to what is relatable, the Powell proclamation.  The “views expressed…tentative and suggestive” sparked a flame. Insidiously, the intensity of the fire grew and grew.  Today, the nation is ablaze.  Intent on privatization, a select few ultimately persuaded a nation.  Millions of individual men, women, and children, acceded to the need to transform our schools.  

Once the initial mission was accomplished the quest did not end.   It was never meant to as is evident in the statement; “Recognize that the ultimate issue may be survival – survival of what we call the free enterprise system, and all that this means for the strength and prosperity of America and the freedom of our people.”  It is essential to realize as the Writer, an Industrialist highly involved in multiple Boards of Education did.  Even Educators fight for survival.  Teachers, parents too, want the right to choose.  Everyone does.  In America, few are ready or willing to reject what is prized, the Entrepreneurial spirit.  Citizens, and those who flock to the States, celebrate what Capitalism symbolizes.  We cherish independence and the possibility that as an individual we too can succeed.

Thus as it has been for decades; society and the world, followed the lead first fashioned in the subdued Powell epistle.  Indeed, were it not for the effectiveness of this treatise, there would be no Dump Duncan plea.  The Powell Memo or at least what some consider a transformative version of it, would have been but a whisper, lost in the past.

The Powell Plan understood what the Dump Duncan advocates seem to have missed.  “The Medium is the Message.”  Melodic Messages such as “Freedom” and “Individual Choice” Move the Masses. Money is far less Meaningful.  Convince the people that what they want is what they need and can have and the world, education and equity reform will be your oysters.

Beyond a Broad Appeal.  Saper  Vedere. To know how to see.”

Justice Powell had sight, hindsight, foresight, and insight.  Lewis F. Powell had a vision, a message to impart.  He mapped out the elements that comprise the essence of an effective campaign.  The Corporate Lawyer understood the core of a fine argument.  It is vital to gain people’s confidence, utilize any and all available medium, and the case is yours.  Mister Powell’s thoughts can be summarized in a phrase, as Marshall McLuhan articulated before him, “The Medium is the message!” This truism translates to ‘Market to the masses.’  Do not miss a moment.  Broad appeal is the aim.  “Public relations” equates to relate to the public. Meet their needs and wants, one individual at a time.  

The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.  “Television.” Radio. Periodicals. “The Scholarly Journals.” “Books, Paperbacks and Pamphlets.” “Paid Advertisements.” Pronouncements are powerful; that is if a presenter or presentation is profound and present in every conversation.  The essential elements need be pervasive and persuasive.  Expression matters more than what is expressed.  However, these fundamentals alone may not be enough to sway the people.  The ultimate strength is found in “freedom.”

People need to feel as though whatever their thoughts, these were arrived at independently, and after much analysis.  Thus, the message must appear on every avenue, in each forum and discussion.  Omnipresence affords infinite opportunities.  In time, ideas are internalized.

For Powell and his pals the hope was the public might see and surmise that it was time for a change.  Surely, the average America was aware, or would be with a little help from free-market friends, there had been a triumphant broad-based “Attack on the American Enterprise System.” In his personal assessment of the past, Lewis Powell penned what his business partners also believed.  He outlined the dimension, sources, and tone of the assault on entrepreneurship.  The eventual Supreme Court Justice also gave voice to “The Apathy and Default of Business.”  Much as a frustrated Teacher might say at present.  Colleagues frequently feel that coworkers are overly compliant, unconcerned, or just too comfortable with what is.

All those decades ago, Barrister Powell, advanced a societal shift…a move from a perceived attack on American Free Enterprise to an engineered assault on public opinion, especially as it relates to education and equity.  Perhaps, we can best understand how this played out by way of an analogy.  Contemporary anecdotes may offer just the “saper vedere” we need.  

Medium Builds a Movement Beyond Magnates or Mentors

On the Surface, Seen in the Cinema

We can see the contrast and consequences of a vision acted upon when we observe what occurs in our theatres.  The regard for films such as Waiting For Superman versus ‘American Teacher, narrated by Matt Damon tell a part of the tale.

Actor, Director, and Author, Matt Damon has a name and fame.  Millions express an interest in the man, his career, and subscribe to the quests Damon undertakes.  His work sells.  However, the movie American Teacher was never a box-office success.  The motion picture was barely a blip on the national radar.  It is as the Dump Duncan appeal, only acknowledged by academics, classroom teachers and their allies.

The American Teacher is not alone in the film world.  Other productions have attempted to tell a tale about education, just as  Waiting For Superman does.  Several flicks evoke sniffles a technique used effectively in the Guggenheim creation.   Race To Nowhere, and August To June, bring audiences into the lives of little ones, as does Superman.  In each production, viewers can and do relate to real-life “characters.”  Thus, the theory that the  much-acclaimed movie was a tearjerker, and therefore, a success does not hold.  

Through each production, we feel the pain in pupils and parents.  School life offers stress as well as success.  The circumstances in one or the others are all too familiar.  Any of us who has yearned to learn, especially as children, fears being told that we, or our work is a failure. Empathy is a strong emotion evoked as we watch the stories unfold on a silver screen. People relate to what mothers and fathers feel.  When a young one stumbles, falls, and pick them selves up again we bleed then believe.  Then, why might it be that one of the movies has a mammoth following?  Why is Waiting For Superman present in the public’s collective mind?

Obviously, we cannot surmise that documentaries do less well; Waiting is of this genre.  It is a “factual” film, dependent on your personal perspective.  Yet, it has received awards, accolades, and is much appreciated. The essential difference came in the form of backers.  Not only did the message speak to the magnitude of the desire for freedom, Free-Enterprise proponents promoted the production.  Any policy or presentation that appeals to marketers is as a Muse.  Inspired Industrialists will happily be advance-persons and advertise programs that push an agenda of “Choice.”

In actuality, frame after frame of Waiting for Superman circulated in Corporate Board rooms. Audiences of Chief Executives gathered to assess the much-acclaimed film.  Staffers were called to view.  Won over by the medium, and the message, word spread.  Ah, the wildfire that today is ablaze.  Soon audiences attended screenings in droves.  Showings were held not solely in theatres, but in homes, town halls, and youth centers.  Clubs used the film as fundraiser draws.

Behind the Scenes. In the Streets and In Corporate Suites

Money. Money. Money! Does not a Movement Make

Such was the fate of the Powell Memo and its mantra as well.  Interestingly enough, the two [Which two?]share the same message; privatize! Each was sponsored by big businesses.  

In the case of the push for the Powell Plan, there were many movers and shakers.  US Steel, GE, GM, Phillips Petroleum, 3M, Amway, American Broadcasting Company (ABC) and Columbia Broadcasting Services (CBS) were actors of note.  

The latter two of these enterprises could and did weave a tapestry that told the tale of privatization in all its glory.  Lights, cameras, action mixed with a bit of adversity, adventure, triumph, and special effects, surely tell this American  folkloric story successfully.  

Witness Waiting For Superman.  It too had and has phenomenal partners.  Glance at a revered registry, Organizations Making a Difference for Waiting For Superman.  The Gates, Broad and Walton Family Foundations are primary partners in the popular plots.   (Please explore their areas of interest and influence.  Click on the stack of dollars in Under the Influence; Big Education Spenders to see behind the scenes.)

Consider Merit Pay and Charter Schools.  Powerful privatization promoters subsidize vouchers too, just as they did the movie.  All fall are under the influence of the influential.  

Perchance unexpected, although equally compatible with the Entrepreneurial agenda are federally “funded” programs such as Race To the Top, and No Child Left Behind.  These donors, and more benefactors sponsored the film and were intimately involved in Arne Duncan’s Renaissance 2010 Chicago School Miracle Story.  

The marriage between moneyed and governement bureacracies is a long and enduring, mutually beneficial engagement, one Lewis F. Powell proposed.  Plese recall, Mister Powell, unlike Dump Duncaneers, saw the pertinence of no left stone unturned.

Corporations fund alliances such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC),”the nation’s largest, non-partisan, individual public-private membership association of state legislators.  This organization, as many other conservative collectives, was born of the inspirational ideology found in Powell’s prose. Corporate-controlled task forces within ALEC address issues from education to health policy. Legislation introduced by this dominion in recent sessions complements the agenda voiced in theePowell doctrine and in the documentary, “Waiting For Superman.” Privatize education. Break unions, such as the Teacher’s.  Deregulate major industries, inclusive of the institution known as public schools.

As many might be aware, in 2011, in 2012, and as is expected to be in the future, America’s public education system has evolved.  For-profit venture Capitalist sought and found homes in America’s “public” schools.  The key to schoolhouse doors was opened with the turn of a phrase, the one found throughout the Powell Memo.  “Freedom!”  

Independence and individual choice.  The music from Powell’s Manifesto prospered

While the immediate response might be “Follow the money.”  Frequently we find funds are not enough to advance a message.  Money does not buy love or a movement.  Consider recent political races and grass-roots actions.

Occupiers grow without gardens of green-backers.  Please ponder a list of abundantly affluent “losers.” Meg Whitman, spent $160 million on her failed bid for Governor of California.  Linda McMahon depleted her bank account with a $47 million withdraw.  Her belief was she could purchase a Connecticut Senatorial seat.  Microsoft Vice President Suzan DelBene tried to procure a position in the Washington House.  Well over two million dollars later, the candidate   was defeated.  In the 2012 Grand Old Party Presidential races we have often seen that dollars do not get the job done. Thus, we must wonder; as Lewis Powell did, what is it about a film or a philosophy that allows it to spread?  It is the meduim and the essence of the message.  “Freedom!”

Does it have a beat that harmonizes with that of an individual’s heart.  “Liberty!”  Sing it loud!  “Choice.” Chime in.  People on the Left, Right, Middle and Independent spirits do.

Melodic Messages Move the Masses.  The Choir. The Chorus and Choice

Free Enterprize! Freedom. Individual Choice. “Education  and Equity,” as envisioned and eloquently expressed by entreprenuerial edification deformers, is areality embraced by the public.  Yes, please, the people say, we must put Students First.   Educator need to Teach For America.

The opportunity to choose the best school for our offspring is one any, every, and  likely all mothers and fathers covet.  Our President understands this.  Mister Obama often cites his own circumstance when he speaks of the issue. Just as persons who actively advocate for “School Choice” Barack Obama wants to provide his progengy with the finest education he can.  The variance comes only in how this might be achieved politically through policy.

No one can deny that consistently, Barack Obama, just as Arne Duncan, the Gates Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, Michelle Rhee, the American Legislators Executive Council (ALEC) and a majority of “we the people” hold dear the prospect of Charter Schools.  Vouchers are the aspect of School Choice that the Administration rejects.  Only Dump Duncaneers and/or persons who support an authentic preservation and transformation of public education object to owner operated Education Management Organization Charter Schools and Vouchers.

We might surmise the  intial bipartisan hug over No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top was born out of a love for accountability.  Indeed, even today, Teachers, their Unions, those who see the woes of high-stakes testing, and some who acknowledge the abundant stress these bring, justify a need for “accountability.”  “Sophistication” of the standards appears to be the point of contention.  As a whole, very few believe that education and equity can be sustained without some sort of quantifiable measure.  Perhaps, those who do never sat in the pews occupied by the broader population.

Barack Obama, alongside his friend, Arne Duncan did.  The two hummed the hymn as the High Priests and Priestess, sang.  Affluent families attended the church and stood with common parishioners as they  kneeled and prayed.  As the Good Book says, Moms and Dads must have the prerogative to choose what is best for their children.

Thus, there is reason to believe.  The Powell Plan understood what the Dump Duncan advocates seem to have missed.  “The Medium is the Message.”  Melodic Messages such as “Freedom” and “Individual Choice” Move the Masses. Money is less Meaningful than a Mission that Gives Voice to a Shared Vision.

References and Readings…

Policymakers Applaud Marginal Gains on History Test


Sec. Spellings admits lacks of educational credentials. YouTube.com.

© copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Quick, answer these questions.  You are being timed.  However, do not feel pressured.  Do the best that you can.  Our school literally depends on you.  Your performance on these examinations will determine  whether our district or this facility receives Federal funding.  Do not open your test booklet until I tell you to do so.  When you are finished, close the pamphlet, put your pencil down, and sit quietly.  You may begin.The voyages of Columbus changed life in Europe by  . . .
A) introducing new foods and spices to Europe
B) showing Europeans a shorter route to Asia
C) introducing the horse to Spain
D) proving that the Earth was flat

In what year did Eli Whitney invent the cotton gin?  More importantly, What was a major effect of the introduction of the cotton gin?  Name the first permanent English settlement in North America.  What was the main issue in the debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas in 1858?  Stop!  Close your booklet.  Place your future in my hands for now.  I will pass your answers on to the authorities.  Notes and Scantrons will be evaluated.  Ultimately, a big bureaucrat will decide.  Did you learn your lessons well?  Was my teaching to the test effective?  Might we all be rewarded for the rote recall that now defines education?  Well, that depends on how the government spins the story.  By the way, the answer to the first question is “A.”  The journeys made by Christopher Columbus introduced new foods and spices to European citizens.

You, dear reader, recall the drill.  We have all experienced the trauma, drama, and thrill of standardized testing.  In recent years, the excitement is expanding.  Since the passage of No Child Left Behind, our children take standardized tests more regularly.  The rewards for doing well are ample.  The punishment for doing poorly is, some say, excessive.  Nevertheless, students must be “accountable.”  Scores are scrutinized.  The New York Times states, Students Gain Only Marginally on Test of U.S. History; nevertheless, as a whole, the pupils in this nation improved. 

At least, that is the opinion of officials in the Federal government.

Federal officials said they considered the results encouraging because at each level tested, student performance had improved since the last time the exam was administered, in 2002.

“In U.S. history there were higher scores in 2006 for all three grades,” said Mark Schneider, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers the test, at a Boston news conference that the Education Department carried by Webcast.

The government is proclaiming the educational system in America is  better than it was and the progress will continue.  According, to the Washington Post Department of Education personnel state . . . .

The nation’s fourth-graders have shown significant gains in U.S. history and civics test scores, federal researchers reported yesterday, a development that — coupled with similar recent advances in reading, math and science — experts attribute in large part to an intense national focus on reading in early grades.

Educators said they were also heartened by significant improvement in 12th-grade U.S. history scores, the first national gain in any high school subject in eight years.  The rise in elementary social studies scores, once considered in the doldrums, drew the most attention.

Such accolades, welcome progress and yet, there seems to be little concern for what is not working well.

[M]ore than half of high school seniors still showed poor command of basic facts like the effect of the cotton gin on the slave economy or the causes of the Korean War.

Excuses can be made.  Indeed, Federal spokespersons are offering explanations that seem feasible.  These High School seniors were educated under the older more lax system.  Now, since No Child Left Behind was initiated, schools are moving back to basics.  Today, students are succeeding in Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.  Better reading skills help pupils to extrapolate.  The failings will never occur again, for learners that perform poorly will not be allowed to advance to the next grade or graduate with their classmates. 

Department administrators prefer to highlight the successes.  These are evident for the most part, only in the lower fourth grade results.

Since 2002, beginning in Head Start programs, and continuing into the twelfth grade, pupils are required to pass rigid and rote examinations.  Students of all sizes, shapes, abilities, backgrounds, and experiences must meet specific minimal standards.  Each scholar is assessed as his or her peers are, even if their background and aptitude vary.  Every educator must be “accountable.”  There are no allowances or expectations.  All are judged equally. 

Educators argue against this unyielding system.  Parents complain as imaginative programs are cut.  Pupils are bored; however, these individuals are powerless against the Bush Administration.  Over the years, some schools have chosen to be different and suffer the consequences.

Falls Church School Won’t Teach to the Test
By Marc Fisher 
Washington Post
Tuesday, October 12, 2004; Page B01

Teachers grumble and moan about how politicians’ love affair with tests has turned education into a grim mission to teach creative young minds how to darken the ovals completely and neatly.

Parents complain about the lost arts and athletics, the exciting labs and imaginative lessons that schools cut out to make way for classes on the art and science of taking standardized tests.

But rarely do public schools take a stand on behalf of the children left behind by the very law that promises to carry them forward.

This summer, Bailey’s Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences in Falls Church put down a marker.  A letter sent to every parent said teachers are being forced to spend “valuable instructional time preparing students to take the Standards of Learning tests, to the exclusion of activities that extend and deepen student learning, integrate the arts with content, and allow students to develop and pursue their own questions.”

The letter said Bailey’s, which as Fairfax County’s first magnet elementary school attracts immigrant families from its Culmore neighborhood and more affluent families from across the county, will still teach children how to think like scientists and historians, even though “this is not what standardized tests measure or encourage.”

The letter was more than an ideological tract.  It was a warning to parents that in the next few weeks, they may find their school declared failing under the federal government’s No Child Left Behind protocols.

The problem is that about 77 percent of Bailey’s students are immigrants, many of whom come to school knowing little or no English.  The law requires the school to bring an ever-higher percentage of those students up to grade level each year.  Bailey’s, like most schools with large populations of poor or non-English-speaking students, isn’t hitting its numbers.

“It’s an ax hanging over our heads,” says Jean Frey, the principal, who has to explain to parents that if Bailey’s is declared failing, the county could fire its teachers, and families would have the right to transfer to another school.

“I have no problem with being accountable,” Frey says.  “As a citizen, I want these kids to grow up to be literate problem-solvers.”  But she will not shutter her science lab, pull the plug on theatrical productions, or tell teachers to scrap a literature discussion to drill kids on test facts.

“The testing itself is enormously time-consuming,” Frey says.  “We give up over two weeks in May to the tests.  So, the rest of the year, we try very hard not to do ‘SOL Prep Time,’ like many schools do.  How important is it to know how to fill in ABCD?  I don’t do that very often as an adult.”

The elders at Bailey’s Elementary school believe what we do in our careers and with our lives rarely relates to the mechanical “facts” we learn in school.  These educators acknowledge as many a scientist might “facts are fluid.”  They often change over time.  Only this week we learned that Darwin did not discover what he expected to find.  The scientist wrote . . .

At last gleams of light have come, & I am almost convinced (quite contrary to opinion I started with) that species are not (it is like confessing a murder) immutable.

Yet, the current educational system acts as though they are.  Individuals are thought to be standard or subordinate.  Information is considered a constant.  Data is indisputable.  Events must be interpreted as reported in a particular historical text, and problems have one absolute answer.  The correct response is the one dictated by National Assessment of Educational Progress. 

When we as a society believe or accept that conclusions are unchallengeable, we no longer strive to challenge the minds of our children.  We state No Child will be Left Behind; yet most are when American students learn to improve their memories while forfeiting their mental capacity. 

The technique that interprets scores as success or failure is often referred to as “teaching to the test.”  This method is frequently questioned.  The Bailey’s School was not the first or only institution to reject the practice.  This instructional method has its supporters and its detractors.  Each argument may be apt and well stated.  However, I believe the question is of greater concern than the answers might be.  I think what is most important is that we “teach to the individual.”  As we evaluate further, we might better understand why the rise in scores is of little consequence in the real world.

Educational experts understand that students are well served if instructors are sensitive to the needs of their pupils as the unique persons they are.  Learning modalities must be addressed.  Relevancy needs to be realized if a student is to authentically acquire knowledge. 

Giving grades, assessing moments, and memories does not establish or ensure that what was “learned” will last for a lifetime.  Yet, under the current system grades not depth are crucial.

The ability to analyze, synthesize, evaluate, and create is no longer as important as the details are.  Critical thinking skills, those that develop through discussion take time and discipline.  Teachers no longer have the minutes or hours needed for genuine instruction.  They can only assist students in understanding the process of elimination in the event that the “fact” escapes you. 

Let us truly assess what occurs when we do not teach critical thinking skills. The recent History and civic scores are revealing.

A sampling of what eighth-graders know about U.S. history:

  • 64 percent identified an impact of the cotton gin
  • 43 percent explained goals of the Martin Luther King Jr. march
  • 1 percent explained how the fall of the Berlin Wall affected foreign policy

    A sampling of what eighth-graders know about civics:

  • 80 percent identified a notice for jury duty
  • 63 percent determined an instance of abuse of power
  • 28 percent explained the historical purpose of the Declaration of Independence

    Source: National Assessment of Educational Progress reports

  • You might notice from the results the depth of knowledge is limited.  Obviously, children are being left behind.  Schools inevitably fall below minimum standards.  Requirements are not met.  In accordance with the law, educational facilities will not receive funding or they will be taken over if they do not perform as prescribed.  The Administration declares, research has proven punitive measures work to motivate minds, or so we are told.

    It seems the incentive to succeed on strict and binding evaluations left educators with few choices.  Courses were cut.  Curriculums adjusted, and schedules were changed.

    A number of studies have shown that because No Child Left Behind requires states to administer annual tests in math and reading, and punishes schools where scores in those subjects fail to rise, many schools have reduced time spent on other subjects, including history.  In a recent study, Martin West, an education professor at Brown, used federal data to show that during 2003-4, first- and sixth-grade teachers spent 23 fewer minutes a week on history than during 1999-2000.

    However, the government counters, fourth graders scored higher in their history examinations.

    The best results in the history test were also in fourth grade, where 70 percent of students attained the basic level of achievement or better.

    Imagine, only seventy percent understood the most basic concepts.  This result is thought to be excellent by Federal spokespersons.  Twelfth graders are said to be the exception.  The Administration laments, these young persons fell so far behind due to less stringent earlier instruction and evaluations.  No Child Left Behind laws are challenging adolescents to achieve after years of neglect.  Federal officials say, prior to the preferred rigidity of No Child Left Behind, standards were lax.  It is for this reason the results are less than stellar.

    The tests, known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, divide achievement levels into basic, proficient and advanced.  The 2006 history assessment had the highest percentage of 12th-grade students scoring below basic of any subject tested in 2005 and 2006.

    However, there are concerns beyond  the scores of High School seniors.

    [O]nly 1 percent of students at any grade level scored at the advanced level.

    The history test was given to a national sample of 29,200 fourth, 8th- and 12th-grade students.  Among the results were these:

    ¶Some 47 percent of the 12th graders performed at the basic level or above.  In 2001, 43 percent were at or above basic.

    ¶Sixty-five percent of eighth graders achieved the basic level or better, up from 62 percent six years ago.

    ¶Seventy percent of fourth graders attained or exceeded the basic level, compared with 66 percent in 2001.  Even this result, however, left 30 percent who, for instance, lacked an ability to identify even the most familiar historic figures or explain the reasons for celebrating national holidays.

    While the Federal bureaucrats, those who dole out the dough believe the gains demonstrate progress, educators and experts do not think the statistics give reason for celebration.  They are concerned; Americans scholars rank far below those in other nations.  The advent of the newer tests and standards are lessening the quality and time allotted to genuine instruction.  Rote is promulgated and critical thinking is rarely part of the current curriculum.  There just is not enough time, particularly when punitive measures for not achieving as the Administration thinks best are but a step away.  Professional educators say this report does not inspire hope.

    “It’s heartwarming that the test organizers have found positive things to say, but this report is not anything to break out the Champagne over,” said Theodore K. Rabb, a professor of history at Princeton who advocates devoting more classroom time to the subject.

    The civics exam was given to a national sample of 25,300 4th, 8th, and 12th graders.  Seventy-three percent of fourth-grade pupils performed at the basic level or better, up from 69 percent in 1998, the last time the civics exam was administered.  The scores of 8th and 12th graders showed no change.

    “What is most discouraging is that as students grow older and progress through the grades towards adulthood and eligibility to vote, their civic knowledge and dispositions seems to grow weaker,” said David W. Gordon, superintendent of the Sacramento County School District in California, who is a member of the board that sets policies for the test.

    By contrast, the Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings thought the scores superb.  For Secretary Spellings, the result reiterated the Administration’s claims, schools are now showing themselves accountable.  They are offering a foundation for all knowledge.  The Secretary, in a retort to detractors stated . . .

    “When students know how to read and comprehend,” Ms. Spellings said, “they apply these skills to other subjects like history and civics.”

    It seems the solution amongst instructors and  historians is we must examine a student’s knowledge of history more frequently.  Apparently, in the original No Child Left Behind law, learners were given Reading and Math test every other year.  History evaluations were scheduled every five to seven years.  Thus . . .

    In Washington, Senators Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, reintroduced a bill on Wednesday based on the premise that the National Assessment gave history short shrift, testing it every five to seven years instead of every other year as with reading and math. Their legislation would require national history tests every four years, with more students tested.

    David McCullough, John Hope Franklin, Douglas Brinkley and dozens of other prominent historians have sent Congress a petition urging the bill’s passage.

    It seems today, teachers are told to teach only lessons that correlate to tests.  Evaluations no longer assess authentic knowledge.  Tests are designed  to pay the bills.  I think we must ask ourselves, what are we teaching.  Why do we instruct as we do, and are we doing a disservice to our children and society?  I believe the answers to these questions might help, if or when we ever choose to evaluate ourselves.

    References, Resources.  Read Carefully.  There may be a test . . .

  • Students Gain Only Marginally on Test of U.S. History, By Sam Dillon.  The New York Times. May 17, 2007
  • pdf Students Gain Only Marginally on Test of U.S. History, By Sam Dillon.  The New York Times. May 17, 2007
  • Fourth-Graders Improve History, Civics Scores, Seniors Make Significant Gains Nationally. By Jay Mathews. Washington Post. Thursday, May 17, 2007; A09
  • pdf Fourth-Graders Improve History, Civics Scores, Seniors Make Significant Gains Nationally. By Jay Mathews.
    Washington Post.
    Thursday, May 17, 2007; A09

  • Tests show students learn basics in history, civics. Cable News Network. May 17, 2007
  • Falls Church School Won’t Teach to the Test. By Marc Fisher. Washington Post. Tuesday, October 12, 2004; Page B01
  • pdf Falls Church School Won’t Teach to the Test. By Marc Fisher. Washington Post. Tuesday, October 12, 2004; Page B01
  • Word For Word, My Dear Fellow Species, By Mary Jo Murphy.  The New York Times. May 20, 2007
  • pdf Word For Word, My Dear Fellow Species, By Mary Jo Murphy.  The New York Times. May 20, 2007
  • Let’s Teach to the Test, By Jay Mathews.  Washington Post. Monday, February 20, 2006; Page A21
  • pdf Let’s Teach to the Test, By Jay Mathews.  Washington Post. Monday, February 20, 2006; Page A21
  • ‘Teach to the Test’? What Test? By Colman McCarthy.  Washington Post. Saturday, March 18, 2006; Page A21
  • pdf ‘Teach to the Test’? What Test? By Colman McCarthy.  Washington Post. Saturday, March 18, 2006; Page A21
  • Tests show students learn basics in history, civics.  Cable News Network.  May 17, 2007
  • Fourth-Graders Improve History, Civics Scores, Seniors Make Significant Gains Nationally. By Jay Mathews. Washington Post. Thursday, May 17, 2007; Page A09
  • pdf Fourth-Graders Improve History, Civics Scores, Seniors Make Significant Gains Nationally. By Jay Mathews. Washington Post. Thursday, May 17, 2007; Page A09
  • Bush Presidential Priorities, Debt and Defense ©

    Never was there a doubt. President George W. Bush said, “Bipartisan education reform will be the cornerstone of my Administration.”  Yet, it never was.  It is not that the Democrats did not wish to work with Mr. Bush to improve our schools and to set a standard of excellence for the nation’s children.  It is that Baby Bush had a truer mission, that of spreading Democracy throughout the world.  This goal has always distracted King George.

    This President has “war” on his mind.  For him, “conflict” is the definition of the democratic process.  He promotes it in his daily travels.  He may speak of erudition; however, he acts on combat.

    George W. strives to be the one that unites nations; however, he divides them.  He destroys nations aboard and at home.  He battles, blames, and builds walls, not bridges.

    This President speaks of being a “compassionate conservative,” and just as his father, he envisions himself as “kinder and gentler;” however, the truth is he is leaving millions, billions, and trillions behind.  The rich are getting richer, the poor, poorer; and the children . . . they are left behind.

    • Please Read, Children Left Behind, Washington Post and The Children Left Behind The Institute for Women’s Policy Research

    According to the Congressional Budget Office, “The government will spend $217 billion on interest on the debt this year. By contrast, federal spending for the Department of Education is $83 billion.”

    These numbers are staggering, as are all the statistics as they relate to the bully, Baby Bush.

    Prior to this Bush presidency, the federal budget experienced four years of surplus; these were during the Clinton reign that our budget was well balanced.  The recent extended period of “excess” was the longest since before the Great Depression. Then there is GW.  Under the authority of George Boy Bush, the debt level was increased four times!

    As of today, March 16, 2006, the debt ceiling has been raised.  At the behest of this President, our debt can legally be 70.3 percent of our gross domestic product.  This is the highest since the 1997 increase.

    As high as the maximum amount now is, under Bush it could go higher. Last month Bush sent Congress a $2.77 trillion budget request for fiscal 2007 that calls for a deficit of $354 billion.  When considering this we must remember, much of what is spent on defense is not included in the budget.  Then there are disasters, natural and man-made.  These cannot be planned for; yet, they too need funds.  Thus, we finance these as they occur.

    We plan and we do not. Bush budgets for defense, though never fully.  He requests more as needed and there are always needs.  Thus far, the unnecessary Iraq war is expected to cost $9 billion a month.  This price is thought to be a stable.  It is not.

    Initially, to deploy the troops, Americans spent more.  Originally, we were spending $13 Billion per month.  In the last few days a novel operation has begun, an air attack.  This endeavor will also add to the cost of the war.  No matter, for fighting can always be funded.  Afterall, it is the Bush priority.

    What of the children and their education?  Well.  Imagine how many children might be served with dollars such as these.  Think of the minds that might be fed and the bellies; then consider this.  According to the United States Census Bureau, 13 million American children go hungry each and everyday.  War spending can be $13 Billion per month; 13 million American children go hungry daily.  This is an interesting correlation.

    Yes, it is well known, a starving body does not allow for the feeding of a famished mind.  Nevertheless. There are priorities, at least for this President.  His is not education, nor is it our children, though he says these are.  Numbers $peak! The cornerstone of the Bush 43 presidency is filling fields with headstones.

    For your reference . . .
    No Child is Left Behind speech
    Spreading democracy, By Tod Lindberg. The Washington Times
    Children Left Behind, Washington Post
    The Children Left Behind The Institute for Women’s Policy Research
    Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2007
    United States Census Bureau
    Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry
    National Security Strategy 2006. President George W. Bush, Letter Introducing The National Security Strategy. March 16, 2006