Having recently completed my 500th article for the Daily Journal, I took the time to reread some of my favorites. I also had the chance to revisit areas of concern seven or eight years ago and how they have improved or have fallen further apart.
One of my articles in March 2012 concerned our education system and how our young people were being taught in our schools. It was a discussion of how we were treating each other and our relationships with people of different ethnic and social backgrounds, even though we are all Americans.
At the risk of being repetitive, I would like to reprint some of that article in light of our immigration debacle, our foreign relation issues and our chants of “send her back.” So, with apologies to those who read that article and wrote me about how much they appreciated it, I again will present the words of a former Colorado high school principal as he assumed his role as the “new guy.” The speech was given to parents, students, teachers and administrators. It is as germane today as it was back then or perhaps even more so.
“I would like to apprise you of some important changes coming to our school. I am making these changes because I am convinced that most the ideas that have dominated public education in America have worked against you, against your teachers, and against our country. First, this school will no longer honor race or ethnicity. I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white. I could not care less if you are African, Latin American, Asian or European, or if your ancestors came here on the Mayflower or on slave ships. The only identity I care about, the only one this school will recognize, is your individual identity, your character, your scholarship, your humanity.
“This is an American public school, and American public schools were created to make better Americans. If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial, or religious identity through school, you will have to go elsewhere. We will end all ethnicity, race and non-American nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America, one of its three central values- — e pluribus unum, ‘from many, one.’ I will not authorize clubs that divide students based on identities. This includes race, language, religion, sexual orientation or whatever else may be in vogue in a society divided by political correctness. Your clubs will be based on interests and passions, not blood, ethnic or physically defined ties — an unhealthy preoccupation with the self.
“My only interest in terms of language is that you leave this school speaking and writing English as fluently as possible. The English language has united America’s citizens for over 200 years, and it will unite us at this school. We will learn other languages here — it is deplorable that most Americans only speak English, but if you want classes taught in your native language — this is not your school.”
The new principal went on to initiate a dress code for teachers and students, commenting people now dress better for Hollywood events than church and school.
His closing remarks are quite controversial but have merit, and I copy them precisely knowing many educators will not agree, but these thoughts surely again will bring discussion.
“Sixth, and last, I am reorienting the school toward academics and away from politics and propaganda. No more time will be devoted to scaring you about smoking and caffeine or terrifying you about sexual harassment or global warming. No semester will be devoted to condom wearing and teaching you to regard sexual relations as only or primarily a health issue. There will be no more attempts to convince you you are a victim because you are not white, or not male, or not heterosexual, or not Christian. We have failed if any one of you graduates this school and does not consider him or herself inordinately fortunate — to be alive and be an American.
“Now, please stand and join me in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our country. As many of you do not know the words, your teachers will hand them out to you.”
Somewhere in the past 50 years, we have lost our identity, our pride and our devotion to our most unique country. We train few engineers so our manufacturing is diverted to those countries that train engineers, India, China and Southeast Asia. We have fewer and fewer American doctors. We spend so much time on individuality and so little on community our moral infrastructure disappears. Good men and women will not even consider running for elective office, and we gather rich egotists in our governmental bodies. E pluribus unum. From many — one. Our uniqueness, our multicultural background and our multiple languages should blend into solidarity of purpose, not splinter groups.
That last paragraph was my observation seven years ago. Sadly, it hasn’t gotten any better. Our country is more divided by economics, color, nationality, politics and religion. Our present hate crimes have multiplied. We cannot even agree to ban automatic weapons that do nothing but kill humans based loosely on the Second Amendment. If we can ban hand grenades why not automatic rifles that serve no useful purpose to civilians? Rather the right wing believes control can come by locating potential shooters. Now, we cannot even agree on background checks.
Further, why should newcomers to our country be treated any differently than the Europeans who arrived in the 1600s? Can we stop differentiating the Arab from the Jew, the Indian from the Dane, the Chinese from the African, the American from everyone else? Can we not treat all peoples as humans? Why have we so totally lost e pluribus unum?