Monday, January 10, 2011

Some Thoughts

First, many prayers to the victims and families of all involved in attack Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. There's been plenty of blame passed along: the left blaming the right and the right blaming the left. Right now, we're still trying to figure everything out. Let's wait until we have all the facts before we start making judgments.

But I do believe that the leaders need to be more responsible with their political rhetoric. Sarah Palin said in March, "Don't retreat, reload" and proceeded to publish a poster with members of Congress in formerly Republican districts that voted for the Health Care Bill. Their districts were marked with Crosshairs from a gunsight. Giffords' opponent in the election, Jesse Kelly, invited supporters to a rally that invited them to "Get on Target" and involved shooting a M16 with the candidate.

Did either Palin, Kelly, Glen Beck or any other pundit endorse the attack on Gabrielle Giffords? I surely hope not. But with the militant talk that you often hear, are you surprised? Even if the attacker was not a right leaning, Fox loving conservative, the speech and hate is irresponsible and incendiary. It would be like me being a parent and swearing all the time and then astonished and angry because my 3 year old daughter cusses.

I love the Constitution. I consider it one of the great documents in history. I get excited teaching it. It's the oldest Constitution in the world that still is in use. Many countries have modeled their Constitution after ours. So what could ruin the Constitution for me? Congress, of course.

The 112th Congress opened its session last week with a reading of the Constitution. Why would this be so bad? Oh, let me count the ways:
  1. This was a political move to appease certain factions (Tea Party) and not a genuine reading because of their "love" of the document. It was purely cosmetic. Yes, it was a bipartisan reading, but do not mistake the partisanship that lead to the reading.
  2. They read the "deleted" Constitution, not the "amended" one. The 3/5 Compromise was not read. Nor was 18th Amendment that prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcohol (the 21st Amendment that repealed the 18th was read).
  3. The GOP introduced new procedures that say all new legislation must cite its Constitutional authority. Sounds good, but it is the role of the judicial system, primarily the Supreme Court, to uphold whether or not legislation is Constitutional. The role of Congress is not to interpret the Constitution, but to make legislation.
  4. It was boring! I want my students to love the Constitution the way I do. The way Ray Brown does (he walked across the USA to talk about it!). A nearly two hour reading interrupted every 20 something words for a new Representative to come read does not make your average American, much less one of my ninth graders, think: "This thing rocks!" See for yourself:

I thought Congress rallied really well during the lame duck period to get some crucial things passed. Tax law passed, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repealed, START treaty approved and 9/11 Responder's Bill passed. There was one bill not passed that I was really pulling for: The Dream Act.

I understand, they're in this country illegally. But this was a bill that could help everyone. Students affected by the Dream Act are the very students we want to have contributing to this country. We've had a few students at my school at the top of their class who were not pursue further education because of their legal status. These are students who did not make the choice to come to the United States, who've lived here nearly their entire lives and who would give back to their communities if they had the opportunity.

I hope the Dream Act is not dead. I wonder how different the lives of some of my students would be if they had access to this.


Courtney said...

this post (as your posts often do) reminded me of why you're one of my favorite people ever.

Emily Routon said...

i wish i were in your class when I were in high school!