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On Education ...
November 2004

"Education" as a concept immediately brings to mind classroom instruction and a somewhat fixed format. Do we not, when hearing the word "education" respond internally with an image of K-12 stuff and the whatever-comes-after-K-thru-12?

Do we not unconsciously all agree that children begin with learning the most basic of concepts that are foundational in creating a learning curve for the rest of their lives?

I guess with all this I'm trying to say that thinking outside the box with Common Sense means that we scrutinize education from square one and begin with what is already in place - that of - by tradition - handing our kids over to someone else's formal tutoring.

Is the current degree of proxy teaching by public schools something cultural that needs reconsideration? Is the bottom line to our current system a public addiction to handing off kids 8 hours a day to someone else and then excessively holding that someone else accountable when a child "fails?"

Has the K-12 proven to be the best way to help children build a path of lifelong learning? Would it make sense to look at whether k-6 in a formal public setting might be wiser?

(1) K-6 (or K-3, or k-2)seems ample time to focus intently on the fundamentals = readin, writin, rithmatic. K-6 is also ample time, IMHO, for socialization and an introduction to life outside the family circle.

In fact, the peer pressure in K-6 is probably much less intense than the peer-pressured fashion-marketed idiocy that passes for social life in most if not all high schools in this country.

(2) Once the foundation of K-6 is achieved, would it no make more sense to focus on aptitudes, learning ability and potentials and set up a system of diversion of each student into something that begins around age 12 to vector them in the direction of their own vocational and creative bliss?

How and in what form? Hell, I don't know for sure. That's what forums are for.

(3) A teachers' union is not and has not been the problem. We reflect the above named addiction in how we silently consent to the idea that teachers' pay is higher than that of a child-care provider but not as high as, say, a salaried attorney in the public sector (one who won't get rich but who is paid a hell of a lot more than the person dutied with turning his kids into functioning citizens.)


As long as we look the other way whenever compensation for teachers is deliberately suppressed by our government, we are part of the problem with education in this country.

Such reflects that our babies, when old enough to enter school, begin to take a real place in our kitchen budgets and, in some cases, acquire the value of a monthly budget payment we are wont to keep as low as possible. This reflects psychologically in our indifference to listen seriously to education advocates in this country.

After K-6 could we not look at a more individualized focus reflecting our hope that our children are set on a path toward productive citizenship and productivity in this regard means more than economic and self-supporting activity?

What is suggested is an acquired interest and curiosity about what makes this country tick; about how individuals collectively impact what happens in each community; about why participation in the political process is vital - that no good citizen does nothing and that complaining alone is never enough.

After K-6, could there not be some way to create a 7-12, (an age 12-to-age-18) process of which university level studies (post-18) may have already begun or, whose transition is literally seamless?

Would this not be a better way of channelling those 12-18-year-olds not interested in college to alternative vocational interests that more rapidly make of them self-supporting and valued contributors to the culture?

I don't know if we can - under our current economic value system driven by consumerism - afford to pay teachers more, afford to rethink and restructure our education system in America, afford to stop turning out so many illiterate and civically challenged citizens. But I do know that the problems remain and are stuck in our corner.

Arthur Ruger
The American Choice

A member of MFSO Pacific Northwest speaks out on the Consequences of Foreign Policy.

My name is Adele Kubein, I am a spokesperson for Military Families Speak Out, and the mother of an injured Guard member. I am also a student of political science and foreign policy. I could speak of the reasons we should not have attacked Iraq, and of the consequences of this illegal war. But here are people more qualified than I to speak on these matters; what I speak of is the personal effect of U.S. foreign policy on my family and Iraqi families.

When my daughter was deployed to Iraq in April of 2003, her Guard unit was told they would be welcomed with flowers and candy; that they were going to Iraq to liberate the nation, to build schools and orphanages. Just as the soldiers who went to Vietnam were told that the Vietnamese had asked for their help, so were our loved ones lied to.

What these soldiers were not told is that they were entering nations "softened up" by bombings, and made bitter by years of sanctions and abuse on the part of their own rulers aided by the United States for its own strategic reasons. These soldiers did not find what they expected, and they reacted as any person under threat does: they began to engage in war.

The war should never have begun, but once it was, there was a narrow window of opportunity to get the troops back out, and allow the rest of the world to help a liberated Iraq form a government suitable to its culture. Instead, in their hubris, the administration thought it could occupy a nation of people who have fought off foreign occupation before.

The very real consequences to me personally have been tragic. I raised my daughter to love all life, to be generous and kind. When she left for Iraq she thought she would help, and make friends. She knew war is not the way to solve problems; but as many of us did, she thought we would exit Iraq swiftly. The American public trusted the administration to have an exit strategy, and so did she.

Instead of building and helping, she was put to man a fifty caliber gun on a humvee. On her first convoy from Kuwait to Mosul, she had no ammunition, no body armor, and the unit had only one meal a day and hardly any water for almost a month. The criminal negligence of this administration did not stop at allowing chaos to be inflicted on the Iraqi people upon invasion, it extended to its own troops.

At first she did make friends, share meals with Iraqi families, but the blunders of this administration removed all possibility of our occupation to bring peace to Iraq. She began to fight to preserve her life and the safety of her fellow soldiers.

At first I thought that once we had broken the country, we needed to stay to fix it, but any thinking mind can see that the longer we stay the worse the consequences to the Iraqi people. American troops are the magnets that attract death and destruction to the Iraqi people.

Women could once walk the streets of Baghdad with their children, hold jobs, and lead normal lives; Mosul was a thriving city of 2 million people, Fallujah a center of religion. Now these cities are in rubble, women live in fear and poverty, children starve and families are split. I saw a photo of a wailing Iraqi man with his bloodied child in his arms; he was frantically looking for a hospital to treat his mortally wounded daughter. This scene is repeated thousands of times over. How can we condone destroying a nation to bring democracy to it?

Foreign policy is a dispassionate term, but in reality it is grieving families, wondering why this disaster is upon them, it is my daughter, injured and crippled for life, who will never run or hike again.

It is what she calls "the gaping black hole" in her soul.

I nurtured my daughter when she was a child, just as Iraqi families nurture their children. Our children now take up arms and kill other humans, pawns of governments and groups that treat them as disposable killing machines. We value individuality and choice, but a single act of killing strips away all that makes us human. When my daughter called me sobbing and told me that she looked in a young man’s eyes as he died from her bullet, she knew she had lost her humanity for a time. She will bear the burden for the rest of her life, as the once great nation of Iraq will bear the scars of U.S. occupation for ever. This is the true consequence of our foreign policy. As ethical people we cannot turn away from what we have wrought, we must stop the invasion now and help the Iraqi people to regain dignity and peace. We owe it to them and to ourselves.

For teach in and peace march event "Saying No to War and Occupation", Portland, Oregon, March 19, 2005. This event is co-sponsored by Peace and Justice Works, Portland Peaceful Response Coalition, PSU Students United for Nonviolence, and Portland Campus Christian Ministry, and others. Endorsed by war Resisters League, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and others.

Location: Portland State University Campus Ministry. 633 SW Montgomery, Portland Oregon.

This speech may be used by Military Families Speak Out and other peace-oriented organizations, as long as attribution is made as to authorship and location of speech. AK

 
Are the Citizens Responsible?
 
A question in the The American Empire Project asked: "Should US citizens be held responsible for their governments actions?"

Could not the case be made from a global standpoint that the unspoken but assumed relationship between citizens of those governments based on citizen choice by vote is that "we'll take care of things here and you take care of things there."

In this context the government of some other nation could not hold U.S. citizens responsible for American actions but owes its own citizens the more legitimate act of holding the U.S. government responsible.

If being held responsible implies accountability meriting praise or punitive action, a foreign government cannot take punitive action against U.S. citizens and bypass the American government except as an act of terror.

The theory (currently in a state of doubt) is that U.S. elections are open and therefore publicized. What we have in fact is global publicity of not only our elections, but our long history of rhetoric around how open, honest and clean our elections are supposed to be.

That rhetoric comes home to roost when there is the appearance that the electorate made a more conscious choice this year as opposed to 2000 with its clouds of shock and awe in the U.S. population at the astonishing idea that Florida was a fixed election which led to subsequent unveiling of American Imperialism.

I agree with those who say that those who voted for Bush ought to be more accountable for that vote and the "ought to" extends from those voters to those liars and manipulators who hijacked their Christianity with narrow and limited moral values and distracted others from Fear Factor, Survivor,Nascar, The World Series and NFL long enough to vote as they were told.

Letter to 50 Senators on the Eve of the Election Certification

We've reached Oz, my friends, travelling the Yellow Brick Road

You Won't Have to Look the Other Way Much Longer

The More Real "Left Behind" Agony

Arthur & Lietta Ruger 2002-2008. The American Choice is a  political internet journal based in Bay Center, Washington. The views expressed not authored by Arthur or Lietta Ruger are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of The American Choice or SwanDeer Productions. Permission of author required for reprinting original material, and only requests for reprinting a specific item are considered.

mailto:arthur@swandeer.com