A recent article in the Alban Weekly caught my attention by its title. “New Questions for a New Day?” Although it was an article on new questions churches need to ask rather than the ones they are asking, it caused me to think about questions that desperately need to be asked in our political jungle today. We are allowing the media and political pundits to ask the wrong questions of our politicians! Let me give you a few examples:
The question: “How will you vote on issues concerning abortion?” should be replaced by the question: “How will you vote on issues concerning quality of life for all human beings in our society?” Will your votes seek to protect only fetuses or will your vote be for protecting the one in five children in Kansas who are hungry and without access to enough adequate foods and considered food insecure. Will you protect these children from disease by your votes that extend badly needed medical care, or are you only interested in unborn fetuses?
The question: “How will you vote on issues concerning gay marriage“? might be replaced with the question: “what will you advocate through your votes that will protect the rights of all citizens of the U.S. regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation so that all citizens can enjoy the full range of freedom guaranteed by our Constitution.?”
The question: “Are you a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican?” might be replaced by the question: “In what way will you vote for the common good of all citizens, regardless of party preference?” I recently saw a poster on FB that showed a bird flying and said “politicians should be like birds–both the left wing and the right wing support the middle!”
The question: “How can we better hold educators accountable?” should be replaced by the question, “ How are you going to be held accountable for the education of our children in Kansas? ” How are you going to better support teachers in their difficult job? Are you going to respect the job that teachers do, often for poor pay and little appreciation? What are you going to suggest and vote for that will make sure that children we send to teachers are ready to learn by supporting early childhood education? What are you going to do that insures that half of the children coming to the Wichita Public Schools are not coming to school hungry and therefore unable to learn? or homeless and therefore insecure and having difficulties learning? As I read recently—“When Congress passes “No Child Left Unfed, No child without Health Care, and No Child left homeless, then we can talk seriously about No Child Left Behind? After that happens we can talk about accountability!
It’s time we get the message to the media and the political pundits that we wish to have politicians speak on these questions rather than the old tired ones that are now asked.. As Ghandi once said: “Be the change!” We can “be the change” by defining the real problems in our society and then demanding answers and solutions to those problems by asking the right questions. We then need to use the power of the ballot to demand accountability from those who govern us. The change can begin with your intelligent and knowledgable casting of a ballot that holds our elected officials accountable. “BE THE CHANGE”.
Posted in Education, Pastoral Concerns, Political affairs
Tagged abortion, Accountability, Change, Education Funding, Education Support, Gay Marriage, government, Homeless, human-rights, Hunger, No Child Left Behind, political parties, Political Questions
My adult Sunday School class talked about teachers last Sunday. Since it was graduation time, teachers were on our mind and our Sunday School teacher asked us to think of and name a teacher that made a difference in our lives and the difference that teacher made. Everyone could think of one and shared their name and what the difference was that teacher made in their life—and we are talking about middle age and elderly people that compose the class. The class then listed a long list of the characteristics of a good teacher. Some of the traits of remembered teachers we listed Sunday were: Caring, Strict, loved learning, high expectations for their students, and many more I can’t remember. Teachers are special people and should be recognized as such! Teachers are people who throw themselves on top of students to protect them during a tornado in Moore, Oklahoma. These are the people who shielded their students from harm during shootings at their schools.
Most of us take teachers for granted, although they are the largest group of college educated professionals in our society. They are tasked with the very difficult job of socializing the young and making sure that each student has the necessary tools to be successful in our society. As public school teachers, they have to take whoever the parents send them and therefore deal with a large measure of diversity of preparation for learning in their students as well as racial and cultural diversity. Teachers have to deal with language differences, with lack of social skills of their students, with psychological and emotional difficulties caused by dysfunctional families; with poverty and homelessness of some of their students; and most importantly with a society that discounts the importance of the teacher’s work both in terms of monetary reward and respect. What teacher has not heard the old saw: “Those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach others to teach?” The state legislators regularly “diss” teachers in an attempt to defend their lack of funding for schools. They keep saying teachers must be held accountable—-but the question is when are the legislators going to be held accountable for supporting teachers and education?
And yet we entrust the most important people in our lives to teachers every day —-our children!! We trust that they will be safe. That they will learn what they need to learn. And our trust is almost always well-placed. Sure—there are a few teachers who are lacking—-as there are lawyers, doctors, etc.
The Wichita Eagle on Monday, May 19, had an article about a church that is establishing a “free teacher resource center” so that teachers can obtain the many things that they are now buying for their students and their classrooms using their own money. It is estimated that teachers spend from $500 to $1500 dollars a year buying things to enrich their classrooms and to meet the needs of their students—for example, such everyday needs as pencils and paper for students whose families are unable to furnish what is needed. This should not be, but it shows the character of teachers in reaching into their own pockets to meet their students needs even though they may be stretching to pay their own bills. Thank God that a church in Wichita has seen this need and is trying to help out the way Christians are supposed to reach out to others.
State legislators recently gave teachers a slap in the face when they got rid of “tenure”—-one of the protections good teachers have from administrators who have axes to grind or are incompetent and threatened by good teachers. Legislators also are trying to change teacher pensions—not to improve them but to make them riskier and cheaper. The word we have here to describe our state legislators is CHEAP. They are getting so much more worth than they are paying for already, that any further moves may be more than good teachers will be willing to bear.. We will then lose our good teachers if the present attacks continue. Now our legislators, in all their supposed wisdom, are saying anyone can teach that has a college degree. I hope none of your young children are exposed to someone who tries to teach them to read without knowing how to do so! Teaching is a skill as well as an art. Learning doesn’t just happen unless it is fostered by those who know what it is and how to inspire learning. Teachers spend a lot of time developing that skill and art.
During my 35 plus years as an educator I received exactly one letter thanking me for what I did for a student. So—-how many graduates this May have bothered to thank a teacher for the achievements they have made? How many of you can think of a teacher that had a great impact for good on your life? A teacher who helped you become the success you are today. Have you thanked them? Why not?