With good reason, everyone is now focused on guns. But teachers, also with good reason, are, as always, focused on schools and education. Where many marchers were carrying signs on the NRA, AR15s and the Second Amendment, the teachers in the crowds tended to carry placards more targeted to education.
One sign was Trained as a Teacher. Not a Sharp Shooter. Speeches by students, teachers and Board of Ed people talked more about investing in guidance counselors, books, supplies and teacher salaries instead of suddenly finding money to put guns in schools.
My husband went to secondary school in the Bronx many year ago in one of the first schools to have metal detectors. He felt it was more like a prison than a learning environment. Years later, when it was time to pick a school system for our own children, he was clear that they had a much better chance of learning than he did because of the more open inviting environment.
In today’s world, we hear more and more about closing off schools, and making them more like prisons than places of higher learning. The Parkland kids are so impressive because they are the prodigies of a great school system, in stark comparison to how education is failing so many others.
PR Friend Jackie Pantaliano wrote on a Facebook post earlier this year: “The ‘dumbing down of America’ is something my mom has been discussing for a long time. I honestly find it to be one of the scariest things to observe happening right in front of our eyes.”
A fellow contact of hers on Facebook, Bob Portune, added: “When I was growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, education and intelligence were not partisan issues. The basic aspirational goal of becoming informed and pursuing higher education knew no Party lines – it was always assumed that THAT truth was indeed self-evident.” Portune called today’s war on facts “willful ignorance.”
Now that we’ve got the nation’s attention on gun sanity, it’s also the right time to focus on investing in education. What we have before our eyes is an impressive new generation that is comfortable speaking in front of crowds, studied in American history and political campaigns, and adroit at modern communication channels. They are well spoken, well educated and sadly well positioned to take the lead.
Now that the MarchForOurLives is over, the movement is still just beginning. It is more critical, not less, to stay focused and on top of the relevant issues. Here are some Little Hinge actions for going forward:
- Focus Locally. Do some research to find the names of your local senate and assembly representatives. Parkland students are working nationwide, but started with Tallahassee. Find your local elected officials contact info and contact them about what you want to see in your state.
- Support Education. When you hear others disparage literacy and higher education, take a stand in the conversation. Quote George Washington as a key proponent for a national college, and his personal regrets in not being as educated as his co-founders, particularly Jefferson and Adams.
- Vote for School Funding. When residents are upset at national politicians, they frequently take it out on school funding ballots. It’s an odd, but frequent result. Take a stand against stupidity by voting for improved, better funded schools.
- Participate in School Issues. Schools like other institutions can spend money wisely or stupidly. Demand that PTA and HSA meetings are held when all parents have a better chance of attending, and discuss how to support funding sensible programs.
- Keep Info Flowing. Information is power. Find ways to keep school libraries open and get more books into them. Fight any type of censorship. Make sure librarians are not cut from budgets. Keep magazines from all walks of life flowing into schools for discussions on varying points of view.