Arne Duncan

Joe Biden, Arne Duncan And Gay Marriage: The Successors To Hubert Humphrey, Harry Truman And Civil Rights!

In 1948, we had President Harry Truman running for a full term as President, and under constant attack by the Republicans, who controlled both houses of Congress. We also had Mayor Hubert Humphrey, later Senator, Vice President, and Presidential nominee, who had the courage to fight for a civil rights plank at the Democratic National Convention of that year. This put the Democratic party and Harry Truman ahead of the Republicans in that regard, and it was the Democratic Party which fought within itself, against the Southern Democratic segregationists, and finally brought about civil rights legislation in the 1960s.

Now, we have a Democratic President, Barack Obama, facing a hostile House of Representatives controlled by the opposition Republicans, and we have the controversial issue of gay marriage, as well as promotion of full rights in every way for gay men and lesbians. And we have a courageous, principled Vice President, Joe Biden, and a gutsy Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, who have now aggressively promoted the issue of gay marriage as a human rights issue, and there is a push on to get President Obama to take the next step in what he has himself called his “evolution”, and publicly endorse gay marriage. And there is a movement now to make it a plank in the Democratic Party platform that will be adopted at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, this September.

This will, of course, make it a clear cut issue with the opposition Republicans, but it is time to mount the fight for equality, just as Humphrey and Truman did it two thirds of a century ago.

In the long run of history, Humphrey and Truman look like statesmen for promoting what they believed, as Biden, Duncan, and ultimately, Barack Obama, will look in the future writing of American history in the 21st century!

The Urgent Need For More College Educated People In The Future!

The United States was once Number One in higher education statistics, but has now fallen to Number Twelve among 36 developed nations! 🙁

The percentage of young people going to colleges, and finishing a college degree has dropped dramatically, and that is a crisis not only for the people involved, but also for American society!

If America is to compete in the future international economy and remain a superpower, the nation must promote students staying in school and working at a degree, but it seems as if many young people have become alienated from higher education, and tend to think only in the moment, rather than the long term!

Currently, there are about 16.7 million people 25-34 with a college degree, but another 11 million are needed over the next ten years to compete with other nations, and only about 3 million are believed likely to graduate in the next decade!

About 70 percent of young people enroll within two years of high school graduation, but only 57 percent finish a degree within six years. These figures are simply not good enough for the long term economic growth of America!

President Obama will speak today in Austin, Texas, at The University of Texas, to emphasize the priority of higher education in the future, making it one of his major unmet goals that he now wishes to promote, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan is also active in this campaign!

If We Can Fund The Wars In Afghanistan And Iraq, We Must Fund Education, Police And Firefighters!

Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa is promoting a supplemental funding bill for $23 billion to save the jobs of educators all over the country.

Also, $1 billion each is being set aside for police and firefighters, and an additional $1 billion for early childhood education.

The Obama Administration and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are fully backing this move, and Obama has reminded people that if we had listened to the opposition, we would be in a much deeper economic downturn than we have been!

Critics are saying we cannot afford these expenditures to save jobs and provide a decent education, and promote public safety!

Well, if we can afford to spend billions upon billions on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq–nearly $1 trillion combined since the wars began in 2001 and 2003–then we simply MUST find a way to save jobs and promote a quality of life domestically!

This is NOT frivolous spending on unimportant matters! It is the lifeblood of communities all over the country, and will prevent more unemployment, which would help to provoke an economic downturn just as we are emerging from the deep recession we have been in for the past two and a half years!

Further federal stimulus is ESSENTIAL, not optional! And if conservatives and Republicans don’t like it, well, tough it out, gentlemen! 🙁

Obama Is Wrong On Central Falls, Rhode Island, Mass Firing of Teachers!

The controversy over the mass firings of the entire teaching staff at the lowest performing high school in Rhode Island, in Central Falls, has reached a new level with President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan endorsing the action by the superintendent.

The fact that the teachers union was demanding more pay for extra time and commitment led to this action by the top administrator of the school district. And certainly, the scholastic performance of the students is atrocious, with half the students failing every class, and only seven percent on the normal grade level in math!

But realize that a vast percentage of the students in the school and district are immigrant children who have a language barrier adding to their problems in performing well in school.

No one is saying that it is acceptable for students to do this poorly, and for no one to have accountability. But did it ever cross the President’s mind and that of the Education Secretary that there is also accountability on the part of students and parents?

Immigrants through many generations have had to deal with poverty and difficult times, but have achieved and accomplished through their own strength of character. To blame teachers en masse is unjustified and scapegoats them for the failures of students to commit themselves to learning, and also the importance of family involvement!

Certainly, it can be argued that teachers unions tend to protect inferior teachers, and that besmirches the many good and dedicated educators. There is an argument for periodic reassessment of teacher performances, but it should not be based solely on student performance, but rather on how teachers relate to students on a personal level. That is, are the teachers putting out efforts to educate, and are they sympathetic and caring in their personal approaches to their students?

If it is shown that a teacher is refusing to provide help to their students, and are antagonistic toward them and fail to fulfill the expectations we have of professionals in the classroom, then there are grounds for their removal, and tenure alone should not protect such inferior, incompetent teachers. But let’s not go ahead and endorse the mass firing of teachers in Rhode Island or elsewhere based on a power play by the superintendent, or the desire of conservatives to go after unions as an anti labor strategy!

Oh, and by the way, IF we truly want the best people in the classrooms all over the country, it is time to stop blaming them for societal ills and start compensating the “best and the brightest” so that we gain the best minds committed to the education of our future generations!

If we continue to go down this road of scapegoating and mass firings, it will only lead to more teachers leaving the profession, and therefore, furthering the decline in our educational system!

Treat teachers with dignity and respect, and insist on excellence and maximum effort, and you will gain much more than by using them as a political football, whether on the part of the Obama Administration or the conservative enemies of our education system!

Foot In Mouth Disease Occurring In Obama Administration :)

One year in office, and the Obama Administration is getting itself into trouble by being too blunt and outspoken, and not carefully considering what is said. This could be called Foot In Mouth Disease!

President Obama said that in order to be responsible and prepare for college for one’s child, one should avoid going on vacation to Las Vegas and spending the money on gambling. He actually is correct, but Nevadans were angry over the remark, and Senator Harry Reid protested.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that Hurricane Katrina forced a reassessment of education in New Orleans, and that therefore, it was greatly improved because of that tragedy. This caused an obvious uproar in New Orleans, and Duncan apologized for his use of language.

Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel complained about liberal groups who criticized and refused to cooperate with the President, calling them “retards”and using foul language, and ended up apologizing to Tim Shriver, head of the Special Olympics, but was still bitterly criticized by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who has a Downs Syndrome child. This time, Sarah Palin actually was correct in her response to Emanuel’s thoughtless statement.

In the first two cases, the reality is that Obama and Duncan were correct. In the case of Rahm Emanuel, he has never been noted for diplomacy or clean language, and in that sense, often is a detriment to the President.

When one is a public official, he needs to think clearly before he speaks, but since all human beings have this fault, we can be critical, but still have realization that Foot In Mouth Disease is a normal trait! 🙂