The Education Action Network

Taking Back America By Taking Back Our Schools

Posted: 2013-11-01

Published Wed, Aug 28th, 2013   Senior Correspondent - The Capitol Hill Daily

Years ago, President Abraham Lincoln declared that, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Appropriately, today marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. It was 50 years ago, today, that King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and delivered one of the most powerful civil rights messages America has ever witnessed.

In the years since King addressed the crowd at the foot of the steps, America has come a long way. But King’s speech is still just as relevant today – though less in regard to segregation and racial injustice. Instead, the relevance of the message has to do with unity and character, two things that Americans often overlook in the famous speech.

United We Stand?

To be sure, King’s speech says a great deal about civil rights, equality and justice. King was concerned with the plight of blacks in America, and he wanted the nation to live up to the “promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

But King’s speech also delves into the importance of unity and character. He wanted Americans to become united while in the process of becoming equal: “their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”

Unfortunately, many people who attempt to ride on King’s coattail ignore this call for unity. Take, for example, our schools. True, they are no longer segregated, as far as ethnicity is concerned (at least not by law). But now, more than ever, our education systems are becoming distinctly government entities, used as cash cows and political pawns for big government.

Our teachers are alienated in their own classrooms, forced to implement... that were strategically designed by the government in money-making schemes. Teachers must abandon their own dignity and morals as educators tomeet unreasonable guidelines, or to produce certain student scores. Meanwhile parents are being pushed out, no longer having any say in the standards forced upon their children. The separation between the people and their government is growing out of control.

And it’s not just education, either. The truth is, Americans are discordant in a plethora of arenas – race, political party, religion and philosophy all divide us. We’re segregated by our differences rather than united by our similarities. And while we’ve been carving this path to ultimate disunity, we’ve ignored King’s advice the whole way.

The Color of Character

Dr. King, in his great wisdom, knew that the path to unity would require sound moral character. He said, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” We’re quick to quote the first part of that statement, but we neglect to give much attention to the mention of character. King wanted people to exhibit strong character and to be judged accordingly. Then, perhaps, we could be united by our similarities.

Sadly, sound character is exactly what is lacking from those with power in our country – politicians, Big Business, big government. The kind of character that King would argue is necessary to successfully lead anything – be it a nation, or a life – is notably absent. It’s no surprise, therefore, that character (and, ultimately, unity) is lacking in the people as well.

In pursuit of the truth,

Johnnie-Ann Campbell

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