Friday, September 13, 2013

Today's MOZEN 9/13/2013

Words by F LoBuono
Perhaps you've noticed; my normally witty but often (possibly, TOO often) scathing political commentary has been largely absent from TalkFrank these days. I continue to post various photos that I've made as well as largely positive messages about how we might try to navigate through our challenging and hectic lives. Certainly, making an effort to accentuate the positive can never be a bad thing. However, there are other reasons for my hiatus. One of the more important of these is that I've had my own share of personal challenges. In fact, over the last year and a half or so I've had enough misfortune to make Sisyphus feel lucky. Or, so it sometimes seems to me. Combine this with the fact that if you want to play on that field, you'd better bring your "A" game with you and wear your armour because you are going to need both. Certainly, this can cause even the toughest to seek a hiatus. I get it. These are the rules of engagement. But when you are struggling to just keep your own shit together, is it really necessary to take on the world?!

Well, HELL YES, sometimes it is!!

Case in point: While watching the network news last night, a story about the troubled Philadelphia school system was featured. It was a thorough and well produced piece the point of which can be summarized quickly and easily. The problem with the Philadelphia school systems is MONEY - or should I say the lack of MONEY. That entire system has been crushed simply because we don't see EDUCATION AS OUR #1 PRIORITY. Philadelphia, as well as dozens of other cities, has lost millions of dollars in Federal funding - hundreds of millions of dollars. On the local level, every school budget increase means an increase in taxing an already over-taxed middle class. Therefore, we know where that goes - nowhere!

To deal with this austerity, in most inner city Philly schools, every single so-called extracurricular activity has been cut. Sports. Music. Tutoring. Guidance. EVERY SINGLE PROGRAM. And, of course, since most of the cuts affect urban environments, the great majority of the students affected are those of color. These kids are being deprived of the most basic opportunity, one that, quite frankly, most of us take for granted. And that is the opportunity to LEARN. What can we possibly achieve as adults if as children we could not even attend a school that afforded us every opportunity to do so in a safe, healthy environment? People then have the audacity to make racist suggestions that crime is caused by color. It's caused by IGNORANCE; ignorance that we are allowing to happen. So, who are the real criminals now?

SHAME on us for allowing this to happen. I understand that it's a big world and we have international concerns. There's Syria, Egypt, Libya, and blah, blah, blah. Our brothers and sisters around the world are suffering and dying. However, is bombing the shit out of them the answer? I'm no expert on foreign policy and don't even pretend to have the answers. However, there are a few things that I'm dead certain about. One of them is as shocking in its obviousness as it is in our lack of resolve in fixing it; WE MUST IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION FOR ALL OF OUR CHILDREN and we must do it now. It quite simply is the key to the future. And we must do everything within our power to repair the entire system, including the infrastructure. Without providing the platform to create a safe environment for students to learn, we are doomed to failure.

Some will argue, "where will we get the money from" or "I have no children, why should I pay"? Well, the answer to the first is we have to get our priorities straight. There is money. We see it being spent all of the time. For example, recently, our government has considered military action in Syria, the relative merits of which I don't wish to debate at this time. The point I will make is that if we could find the BILLIONS it would take to accomplish that, why can't we find the money to improve education for ALL of our children? Priorities, folks, priorities! As for the second, I get it. I have no school age children and, so, feel the sting of having to pay at least some school taxes. However, I get it. It's still all connected. If we don't have safe schools with which to educate our children, they grow up ignorant and desperate. When all children know is ignorance, desperation and degradation all they contribute to society is ignorance, desperation, and degradation. THIS is our vicious cycle and the only way to break it is to put our money where our mouths are. Let's get our priorities straight and do the right thing. We have the means. Now all we need is the will.

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