Truly Powerful People (423)

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

The state of Tennessee recently past a law making it a crime for young people to display affection. No hand holding allowed. Kiss the cheek of your sweet baboo in the movie theatre and you’ll be arrested. Hold his hand as you stroll across campus and you’re off to the klink. The reason: legislators believe the new law will significantly decrease teen pregnancy. And some people said Footloose was far fetched!

The state of Arizona is erasing its ethnic studies programs. They’ve de-funded the classes. They are “boxing” books by Hispanic authors. “Boxing” is a way of banning the books without using the word banning. The books are removed from the shelves and boxed; the books are still there, the students just can’t read them. The reason: ethnic studies has been deemed un-American. Apparently banning books by authors with brown skin is what defines us.

A major oil company is throwing its weight behind a campaign to raise the standards of science and math programs in America. We rank 17th and 25th in the world in math and science. At one time in the not-too-distant past, California had some of the best public schools in the world. The state gutted funding for education and their public schools soon ranked 47th in the 50 United States. The reason: Don’t get me started. It was a great strategy for the decades long impotent campaign to raise standards instead of addressing the challenge.

Legislating behavior is a great strategy for not dealing with the challenges. Why not address the social issues behind teen pregnancy? Oh, yeah. That means we’d also have to talk about sex. Or, we’d have to talk. We’d have to look at who we are instead of flinging propaganda bombs loaded with the illusion of who we say we are.

As Luis Urrea recently said in an interview with Bill Moyers, ethnic studies is a way into American culture, it is expansive and not a door out (education is expansive – that must be the problem that Arizona has identified). In a society comprised of many ancestral lines it might be useful to consider our origins. That would mean we’d have to talk about it so, of course, it makes sense to box the books (we wouldn’t want people to think we banned stuff!). Shhh. No talking.

And, of course the epic and endless conversation about raising standards in education without first addressing how we educate or why we educate guarantees that we’ll do almost anything rather than address the real challenges in education. We’ve managed to ignore 40 years of data and deny the most potent brain research in the history of human kind. Why start now. Shhhhhh.

When did we become afraid of our voices? When did we slide into this epic failure of imagination?

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