The title of this diary is the same as that of a letter to the editor in today's News Journal, the local paper in Wilmington, DE. While I don't normally read the newspaper, I happened to see another article that caught my interest while I was buying my breakfast this morning, so I grabbed a copy.
Now, the News Journal is usually a reasonably middle-of-the-road paper, though with a slight rightward tilt more often than not. So while I wasn't surprised to see this letter published, I was rather surprised at the vehemence and sheer ignorance contained in it.
Follow me over the fleur-de-Kos for the letter and the response I'm sending to the paper.
I voted today.
I voted for stronger social safety nets, for sensible gun controls, for intelligent political discourse, and for a woman's right to choose.
I voted for equal rights for all regardless of any personal beliefs, sexual tendencies, race, or gender.
I voted for quality healthcare for everyone, for progressive taxes, and for better financial regulation.
I voted that yes, I AM my brother's keeper, and that the welfare of all others is, in fact, a concern of mine.
I voted to bring our soldiers home, so that I would never again have to see a face I knew personally on television or in the newspaper as a casualty of war (even the one is one too many).
I voted for providing more funding for public education, to give every child in this country the best chance they can have for a good job, higher education should they desire it, and a better quality of life.
As the son of a teacher I have always been acutely aware of the strong emotions and often harsh debate that surround any discussion of education reform. Whether someone is trying to push a new method of teaching or a new standardized test, there are always those who are vehemently for and those who are just as vehemently against.
Nowhere is this more visible than in the current push for teacher accountability. On the one hand, we have parents and politicians pushing to make it easier to remove bad teachers from our school systems and reward good ones to improve the educational standards of our children.
On the other hand we have the teachers, who stand firmly against tying their own salaries and their continued employment to the academic performance of their students. Their reason, primarily, is that they feel they cannot-and should not-be held responsible for things which they have no control over: The readiness of their students to learn.
Allow me to preface this diary by saying that this is something of personal interest to me, as well as being a bit of (hopefully) relevant social and political commentary, so I apologize in advance if it seems a bit emotionally charged.
I was witness last night to some rather terrible political shenanigans in my hometown of Winsted, CT. For those who don't live in Connecticut, or who didn't follow the news a couple of summers ago, Winsted is a small mill town in Litchfield county of about 10-12000 people, mostly blue-collar. Last night was the second town meeting to try and pass a budget for fiscal year 2008-2009. The original budget proposed by the board of selectmen was defeated in referendum last month, which meant that the budget would be adjusted by the board, then brought before the town at a town meeting again, where residents could propose cuts, which could be voted upon by those residents in attendance. Unfortunately, by the town charter, additions cannot be made at a town meeting, only cuts. Additions have to be made by the board of selectmen at their meeting.
So I'm at my regular Thursday night Dungeons and Dragons game last night (What? I'm an engineering student, I HAVE to play D&D; it's the RULES!) when one of my friends tells me that the Secular Student Alliance at the University of Delaware is planning to show up last Friday morning in full pirate regalia and preach the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, as well as pass out pamphlets and free ramen. Naturally, I decided to at least take a look, especially because of the possibility of a religious throw-down.
As a senior chemical engineering major at the University of Delaware, I'm only to cognizant of the recent hubbub about the, shall we say, slightly over-zealous attempts by residence life staff to change students' ways of thinking. It seems to me that the response to the whole thing has gotten a little bit out of hand.
Allow me to explain why.
My freshman year here, way back in 2004-2005, I was a fresh-faced 17-year-old, all gung-ho to be a good student and fit in at my new university. I was going to be going to parties, hanging out with people, and in general having a good time. Then classes began, and the reality of what college really is set in. I had expected it to be something like high school, just with a bit more time in class and maybe a bit more work.
I was wrong.