Friday, June 18, 2021

Independence Day in Washington


President Barack Obama, with his wife, welcomed veterans at the White House for a barbecue on July 4, inviting them to stay and watch the fireworks.

Earlier in the day, several high school bands marched in the annual Independence Day Parade, including the band from Brother Rice and Mother McAuley high schools in Chicago. The band, which combines students from the all-boys and all-girls Catholic schools, is directed by Daniel Briggs.

Also marching in the parade were bands from Massachusetts (the marching band from Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School in North Dighton), Wisconsin (The Marching Red Devils from Green Bay East High School in Green Bay; The Polar Bear Marching Band from Hortonville High School; The Warrior Band from Lakeside Lutheran High School in Hellenville), New Jersey (the marching band from Hackensack High School), Missouri (the Kansas City Marching Cobras, a youth-performance unit unaffiliated with any high school based in Kansas City), Ohio (The Band of Gold from Lancaster High School), Arkansas (The Warrior Marching Band from Little Rock Christian Academy), New York (The Blue Devils from Pulaski High School; The Marching Patriots from Schenectady High School), North Carolina (The Band of Raiders from Ronald Reagan High School in Pfafftown; the marching band from Swain County High School in Bryson City), and Arizona (The Wildcat Marching Band from Willow Canyon High School in Surprise).

Happy Fourth of July!

As we celebrate the nation’s birthday, we pause to reflect briefly on the role public schools play in the fabric of our society. This year’s mid-summer holiday is marked by policy debates going back and forth between people who, for the most part, have never taught anyone else’s child anything related to a school curriculum.

The debates are distracting to say the least. And more than in the past, the bickering has made its way down to students. At a family party I recently attended, one high school student said to me, flat-out, referring to the recent field test for the PARCC tests, “The state just keeps pushing these requirements on us.” In other words, what this high school student understood is that the burden she feels had nothing to do with her teachers; the policy was handed down from on high, those awful people who work for the state department of education.

In both Maryland and Illinois, this is a gubernatorial election year. Governors, like state policymakers, for-profit corporations, billionaires, and the like, are mere visitors in the education field. I’m glad this student found an appropriate scapegoat for the time-wasting policies. I’m glad she didn’t blame her teacher for this nonsense. The billionaires and for-profit corporations haven’t stopped blaming teachers, but at least this one student doesn’t share that sentiment.

Because in the end, her teachers are far more likely to stay with her than are the billionaires or governors, state workers or for-profit corporations. The latter take what they can from her, as much as it benefits their own goals, which are, markedly, not expressed in terms of the education she receives. But her teachers stay the course and move her one step closer to professional and personal success and happiness.

So, hats off to the teachers this Fourth of July. Keep up the good fight. Like those veterans honored on the South Lawn of the White House this Independence Day, you are fighting for the advancement of our nation and her vision of democracy, not autocracy or plutocracy.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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