We the People: Week of November 29

The nation sat around tables throughout the country to celebrate the unique American holiday of Thanksgiving. Although many people are still recovering from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, around tents and folding tables people shared a meal and a moment to reflect on our blessings.

The nation has great problems and challenges but we have incredible strengths and resources. Although we like to say we “have” things, such as wealth or possessions, no one truly can have anything forever. The only things we truly have are our thoughts, our actions and our personal histories. These are the things that truly matter.

In 1621, the Pilgrims travelled to the New World over a vast ocean to a continent filled with dark forests and deadly dangers. They faced a harsh winter with scarce resources. What did they do?

They did not gather together to complain and whine about the challenges they faced. No. They gathered the foodstuffs they had in order to celebrate and to give thanks for their blessings.

The Pilgrims would not have survived without the assistance and support of the local Wampanoag tribe which shared resources and techniques to gather food. The Pilgrims, although rigid in their beliefs, recognized their debt to these native Americans and invited them to the first Thanksgiving celebration.

Although peace between the English settlers and the Wampanoag and other tribes was subsequently broken, for that moment totally different peoples with competing interests were able to get together and give thanks for their blessings. They put aside their troubles and tribulations and differences.

We should do the same. We take a day and give thanks to God, our supporters, our parents, our families, our friends or our communities. This tradition puts our human situation into perspective by distinguishing the important from the fleeting and trivial.

The thing to remember is that we have survived difficult times by working together. The communities devastated by the force of nature will rebuild and be back stronger than ever. We shall keep working on making this great city a community that we can be proud to live in while we recover.

Mayor Bloomberg must renew efforts to find a solution for our education system because it is still earning a failing grade. The Department of Education relies on an inscrutable progress report that forces schools to prove that they are successful by meeting performance goals.

No one, even the professionals being judged by the system, understands how it works. The criteria for evaluating performance changes every year: if a school is performing well the goals are raised.

In an old courthouse that is a monument to the thievery of Boss Tweed, the ivory tower educrats think up new programs before the old ones have had a chance to succeed. The people there have a mandate to come up with innovations for management although the old “new ‘ plans haven’t had a chance to be evaluated.

A treadmill of data production demanded by the eduocracy has supplanted the responsibility of management for principals and assistant principals. If Tweed decides that a school has failed, it closes the school, changes the staff and renames the building, but this is not a panacea for a failing education system.

The system may not work, but we can give thanks for the positive results that most of the 1.1 million pupils from different cultures and lands do receive.

It is time put aside our differences, put our mistakes behind us and look forward and move forward.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.