Of Education and Politics

Let this be the last formal posting dealing with education and politics for the summer of 2011. When I went on summer break back in mid-may, I thought it would be a good idea to generate some posts related to education. I thoughts to myself, I said, “Self, what can you do to bring attention to issues related to education to these highly critical Lounge readers?” So I embark upon keeping an eye on the news and posting my commentaries regarding issues that I believed were critical to the educational success of faculty and students. But then, I realized, as I flipped through the pages of the paper, that politicians were standing in the way of our success. The goals of reinvention were still fresh on my mind. I read a common voice from our elected and selected leaders say “we must do what is best for our students” and yet their actions were stating the opposite.

It bothered me then, and it bothers me now to see this great disconnect between politics and education. I don’t know if they belong in the same sentence, but that’s a question I will ponder when I return to the classroom next week. (I sure wish John Dewey had published a book dealing with this specific dichotomy, but I suppose a book with a similar theme and title will do.)I’ll continue to keep an eye on the news and I hope that at one point enough voices will stand up to the political cacophony so that we can eventually and collectively do what is right for our students. This summer I believe I started doing my part (Thank you PhiloDave for the opportunity). I’m tired of teachers taking the collective blame for not fixing all of the educational problems of the world. We can only do so much, and as it has been commented before on The Lounge, students need to do their part. We should only do so much and then the government bodies, agencies, and politicians which control the flow of taxpayer money should do their part.

We are a city, state, and country that needs to work together in order to bring about prosperity to all, not just those who have entitled themselves, or those who have found ways to circumvent and pervert the system.

I leave you with one final observation that captures the essence of what I mean. It’s an article from the Trib titled Daley’s name goes on new library. Take a read and a look at the image. I have no problem with naming buildings after people who have done their part to improve the city. However, what bothers me most about this piece is what is not mentioned: The city libraries have been operating on limited hours due to city budget cuts. Nowhere do we hear about that bit of bad news, but the media pays close attention to this event. IMHO, this is a sad note in our history. A former mayor who was responsible for these budget cuts is put up on a pedestal for having done so much good for our library system. What would Thomas Jefferson think about this bit of news? (On a side note, I spoke with a librarian and she told me that they still don’t have a budget for books. Last year they bought books from the leftover budget of the previous year. She also said that the books for the summer reading program were paid for by the corporate sponsors, not the city.)

Kamran spoke of creating community, and I must add that our libraries serve to fulfill this need and also to meet the educational needs of the citizens. How do our politicians think we are going to be prosperous if avenues for success are not made available?

I agree that the former mayor was responsible for the building of new libraries. I must also point out that during his 20-plus years of being mayor, he inherited some buildings that were due for repairs or replacement. I’d also like to point out that his building of libraries and limiting the operational hours is the equivalent of building public hospitals around the city and having them open for just 8 hours a day. The only reason Stroger is not closed is because it would lead to a visible health problem. The only reason the libraries are not operating at full hours is because it creates no visible problem. However, all problems, visible or not, are our collective responsibility. I don’t know if the politicians truly share this belief.

Thanks for reading peeps. You’ve provided me with some good faculty development this summer!