Focus and Educate Yourself: Education – Part 1

image-imageformat-lightboxEducation is one of the most virulent, debated, and politically explosive issues in our current society.

No more so than now, as a new embattled and controversial president-elect positions his cabinet to take control of our government.

In order to ground ourselves in reality, here are some facts about education in American history: 

  • The first “free” school  was opened in Virginia in 1635, although most children were home educated.
  • In 1642, the first state statute was passed in Massachusetts requiring parents to ensure their children are educated in religion and laws of the commonwealth.
  • In 1647, the Massachusetts Law of 1647 was passed requiring all towns with a population greater than 50 families to hire a schoolmaster to teach the children. Note: local jurisdiction versus federal jurisdiction
  • John Locke publishes his Essay Concerning Human Understanding in 1690. This becomes a basic tenet of American education going forward.
  • In 1788, the U.S. Constitution is ratified. It does not include any reference to education or school.
  • In 1791, the Bill of Rights is passed. It does not include any requirements for education or schools. In the 10th Amendment, any powers not delegated to the federal government are granted to the states.
  • In 1821, the first public high school is opened in Boston.
  • In 1827, Massachusetts passes a law that requires any towns with more than 100 families to have a public high school available to all students.
  • Horace Mann – the first Secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Education – becomes the first proponent of public (‘free’) education for all.
  • By 1918, all states have laws requiring compulsory school attendance. They are sporadically enforced.
  • The Department of Education is created in 1867 and funded by the Peabody Education Fund. Main focus of this fund is to support struggling school systems in the south.

As you can see in the history of education in America up until this point, there is nothing that commands that public education become a replacement for other forms of education. The emphasis is in ensuring that everyone is educated.

john-locke

Somewhere and somehow, the emphasis changed. The public education system that was originally envisioned by founding thinkers like John Locke and Horace Mann began to mutate; it continues to do so.

Sadly, even as we battle these statistics, no one can come to an agreement. Why?

Mutual agreement is hampered by some of the following issues:

  • public misunderstanding
  • media misrepresentation
  • over-reliance on misdirected studies and so-called ’empirical’ evidence
  • lack of appropriate funding
  • communication breakdowns related to biased thought processes
  • political infighting and finger pointing
  • loss of focus

The longer we take to come to a mutual agreement, the farther our children slip.

Our focus must be and remain on our children – all of them. We are not the future – they are.

© 2010-2017 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Introducing “Focus and Educate Yourself”

Over the past few months,  I have gotten myself, with the help of my Facebook “friends”, into several heated debates over politically charged issues: education, use of GMOs, President-elect Trump’s political appointments and future policies.

I have been labeled ignorant and close-minded. Me? Wow!!

My goal was never to inflame nor to judge, but only to show a different side to very narrow and politically biased arguments. Unfortunately, I did not have research and facts to back me up. And I was called out for it. This doesn’t mean that the other side had a handle on those facts either; only that they were able to throw around some weighty catch phrases.

During this all, I have learned that:

  • Everyone has a political bias
  • Political bias is a blinder and it has the power to debilitate most healthy debates
  • The use of rhetoric and conjecture is rampant when political bias is present
  • Rhetoric and conjecture have become mainstay replacements for actual research and educated thought processes
  • Everyone is subject to the use of rhetoric and conjecture because it is the easy way out
  • The ability to remain objective in a politically biased world is virtually impossible

I’m tired of being cornered by people who think they have all the answers and are arrogant enough to voice it that way.

I’m sick of people who label and stereotype others a certain way just because of different viewpoints.

I hate the hypocrisy that is occurring.

I’m done with feeling like I am clawing my way through a maze of biased or under-informed opinion, just because it was the most recent post that came over someone’s Facebook and inflamed an emotional response couched in purported “facts”.

I want to be in a position where I can share something during one of these debates that makes another person say, “Wow, I didn’t know that”. Yep, I know that not everyone is like me and may not likely actually say that out loud, no more than they would apologize when they know they are wrong. I also know that when an issue is ensconced in emotion, mutual understanding and agreement can never be reached.

I am introducing a series of posts entitled “Focus and Educate Yourself”. The purpose of these posts will be to share what I learned through my own research on different topics that are prominent in today’s world and significant in our current political environment. The goal is to hopefully get people thinking on their own, instead of spewing the most recent babble.

I am welcome to suggestions on topics.

© 2010-2017 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Dear Mr. President

Preamble:

Let’s get some facts established first:

  • I did not vote for Trump, nor for Clinton.
  • I am not a millenial.
  • I am gainfully employed but have seen troubles over my life that have placed me, at times, in less than desirable circumstances from which I had to crawl my way out, dragging a family behind me.
  • I am a conservative, not a Fascist.
  • As a conservative, yes, I do believe in basic human rights and justices.
  • I believe in hard work ~ for everyone.
  • I do not believe in the political machine, including the main and mid stream media that snivels around it and has all of us by the balls and is slowly squeezing.
  • I believe in peaceful demonstration, as one of our Constitutional rights, but I do not by any means advocate violence of any kind.
  • I know that many of you will read this and be insulted, even now, over a week after the election.
  • I do not apologize for my opinion, nor my position.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

With that aside, let me continue.

After many days of contemplation, peppered with vicious exchanges with people whom I have called friends for several years, I have decided to express a few thoughts and feelings that I have been harboring.

As much as many of us have tried to keep things civilized in the wake of your election victory last week, it has proven almost impossible.download

Actually, if I had to classify it, I would say it is social warfare out there. No longer warfare between the proverbial haves and have nots. Nor between the sexes. And it really is not even a war between the races.

It is a war of principles. It is a war of perceived standards. It is a war between intangible thought processes and subjective belief systems; belief systems that have been grown, pruned, and stunted by untold years of personal experience and the molding of each individual. It has resulted in histrionics of epic proportions, across multiple societal lines.

The war zone is real out here, President-elect Trump, and it is slowly gathering momentum – taking prisoners and accumulating casualties.

It is a war steeped in fear, resentment, spite.

It has made some good people make bad behavior choices. good_versus_bad

Here are some of the behaviors I have personally experienced. Sadly, some of the behaviors I have personally experienced; some of the behaviors mimic what you yourself – and the portion of your supporters constantly spotlighted by the mainstream media – exhibited on the campaign trail.

Name-calling – marginalizing – stereotyping – pitting of one group against another – judging and accusations – assumptions – more accusations – immoral and unprincipled characterizations

The example that you set during the campaign has become an artifact that we, the people, are now forced to grapple with in the aftermath, down in the trenches.pto5kkl7c

We have been made aware of our divisions. Those divisions have been drawn into the light. Spotlighted and amplified. Somehow, over the course of this campaign year, people with lesser moral character or weak emotional constitution have become indoctrinated with a sense that they can bully and attack and accuse anyone else from the other camp. Fundamentally good people have been convinced that they can now make these bad choices, and that they are justified for doing so.

They have gotten the idea that they don’t have to respect each other’s opinion if that opinion resonates from the other side.

Somehow, people are increasingly getting the idea that it is acceptable now to judge someone based on the group they affiliate with instead of the moral fabric of that person’s  own character.

It has become impossible to discuss rationally with someone from “the other camp” unless that person has embraced a level of maturity that allows them to gracefully accept and move on. Notice that I did not pinpoint any “camp”. It is followers of both camps, plus some, who are behaving badly.

And many are not moving on gracefully.images

They are refusing to accept the election results. They are refusing to even give you and your new administration a chance because they are so blinded by the other garbage.

They are finding you guilty before you have even made a move.

immaturity

 

If nothing else at this point, you have shaken up the status quo. Not surprising, a bit scary, and necessary.

I, for one Mr. President-elect, will do my best to represent a positive front in the turmoil that is raging. Many people of my like mind are working hard to do the same thing. Because, despite some of the despicable things you did and said during the election, those things are no more despicable than many of the things that a multitude of career politicians, including your rivals and those you are currently appointing to your staff, have done for decades. Difference is your actions and words were publicized and spotlighted while the others slithered around in the mud and tried to pretend that they were righteous, good, and doing what they did in the best interest of the American public.

But I wonder, what is happening to principles, standards, love, acceptance?

While many of us wish that we were not beginning a new chapter under such social duress, we are hopeful that as you are sworn in that you will show us a different side than what the media decided to entertain and enrage us with during your campaign and that the changes you evoke will make us a better people and a better nation.

Good luck, Mr. President-elect.

© 2010-2016 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

No Perfect Candidate

I admit that, once upon a time not so long ago, I was one of those who liked Donald Trump when he first came onto the political stage. I liked the way his unabashed way of setting off public debate – on many issues that had for many years been taboo, or worse, circumvented by the popular media outlets because they were not politically correct to discuss – allowed even the talking heads on the Sunday morning news programs to openly discuss previously taboo issues.

I felt like he got people talking and debating, with less fear about repercussions of opinion or the violation of political correctness expectations.

But now, I fear that he has become maligned by his own stunted followers and the creeping shadow of his own poor business and political choices.

That said, I am not one of those who has gone skulking into the Clinton camp.  I think, in many ways, H. Clinton is as bad, if not worse, than Trump. She represents more of the same government ineptitude. She does not represent change. I would rather engage in civic disobedience, and vote my conscience (e.g. no vote at all), than to vote for the lesser of two evils.

In any case, neither one of the candidates is a viable choice.

Neither one of them has the moral conviction nor the insight to take this country to where it needs, and wants to go. Where it deserves to go.

Here is why:

  • Both candidates will have to battle a dilapidated and corrupt political system. It is the system that is so corrupt. Until the system is changed, the candidate who is slotted in will be mostly irrelevant.
  • Both candidates will continue to contend with their own shady personal and professional backgrounds.
  • Neither of the candidates has the best interest of the public in their sights, unless that public interest is juxtaposed to their own personal gain.
  • Both candidates are part of the corporate and political bastions of American society; basically, the “pillars” that have amassed money and power and use both to battle on their own fronts under the disguise of “fighting for the common man”.
  • It is the Electoral College results that matter, not the popular vote. The decision will be made outside of the public arena.

How many times in history have we seen that happen? Rarely do the masses win anything that they are due by the privileges granted by the Constitution because of the power struggle that goes on in places that none of us are privy to.

So…now…the masses battle among themselves. They claw at each other in order to prove the credentials of their favorite candidate. They scramble to have the last word, to prove that the candidate they favor is the best one. They search tainted media data to present as proof that somehow they are right and the words and actions of the other candidate are maligned.

When they can’t achieve the desired result by doing those things, they disparage the other candidate’s character. They resort to low and filthy tactics; anything to win the argument. They operate from a basis of emotion and hasty analysis. They react to propaganda, data which has already been run through the spin machine at least several times, worth no more than the kitty litter in the litter box, and the stuff that kitty drops in there.

They let go of their common sense in order to hop on the bandwagon of the candidate that the media machine has been geared to lead them to follow.

What they fail to understand is that for them, this fight must not be about candidates. We are way past that.

This fight must be focused on issues, and our pock-marked and crumbling political and social system.

This fight is about clear-minded people butting up against the beliefs of people as sheep, who either can’t be bothered with thinking through the issues with their own brain power or truly believe that our society has an element of truthfulness and purity left to it. They are led along by a shepherd into a pasture where they smell the poppies and eat the spiked grass. That spiked grass is the media propaganda that permeates our reality.

They are led to this place with wool over their eyes, obscuring the reality of the current situation.

As I wrap this up, I am thinking about how we fix this.

What does a clear-thinking non-sheeple American citizen do to make a difference?

Here are my meager attempts to enlighten us all:

  • Do your research using unbiased data from unbiased sources. It is very difficult to come by these days.
  • Take some time to get the pulse on what you believe is the most important issue.
  • Find and join an unbiased organization that supports and propels the solution of that issue to new heights.
  • Stick to the issues; avoid the propaganda.
  • Stick to the issues; don’t malign character, no matter how quickly it would help you win the argument.
  • Stick to facts; don’t use emotion to debate.
  • Remember that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, no matter how wrong you think it is. Move on; don’t dwell on it.
  • Don’t allow disagreements over these topics to divide you from your friends and family. Divided – we are all weaker.
  • Remove the rose-colored glasses that you wear and work to remove the tint of those others that you encounter.

Objectivity works best in order to ensure securing a win in the struggles of real life.

© 2010-2016 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Plutocracy

I haven’t done a Words Unveiled post in at least a week. I guess I was at a loss for words to unveil that would be worth reading about.

Luckily, I came across one today in the most unlikely place. I was at the gym, lifting weights, transferring my attention between two TVs: one was broadcasting the Texans-Ravens game and the other was showing a generic news program with the generic ‘talking political heads’ discussing the economy. The footer on the screen indicated that the ‘talking head’ on the screen at that time was a woman who had recently written a book about plutocracy.

That got my attention away from the football game (easy at that point because the Texans were blitzing the Ravens). I didn’t really have to worry too much about missing anything; it was late in the 3rd quarter, with a 30-point spread. Texans were guaranteed a win no matter what the Ravens brought on.

So, like it or not, today’s word is plutocracy.

What is plutocracy? The mini-blurb on the footer of the news program show defined it this way: when the super-rich edge everybody else out of the economy. The middle class becomes marginalized financially. Or something like that.

That definition screamed at me for more research at the same time that it reminded me, painfully, of how few basics from college history and political science that I actually remember.  

Ouch! So, I hit up Google.

Wikipedia confirmed the basic definition, and in a more concise manner:

Plutocracy is “rule by the wealthy.”

Basically, if you have money…a lot of it…you can sway politics.

Here are some facts to think about:

  • It is not rooted in a political philosophy. This means that it can happen in any political system or environment. Democrat, Republican, Socialist, Communist, Independent…everyone is welcome. Just bring your checkbook.
  • It is usually referred to in a pejorative sense. This means that it is not a compliment when someone refers to you or your political leanings as ‘plutocratic’.
  • Endorsing it, or even tolerating it, can lead to class conflict, ignoring social responsibilities, and corruption by greed.
  • Examples of historical plutocracies include the Roman Empire, certain city-states of Ancient Greece, and pre-World War II Japan.
  • Modern plutocracy is alive and growing. Whether through PACs, corporations, or wealthy private investors, any money can sway decisions and influence policy.

I guarantee I will be reading Chrystia Freeland’s book Plutocracy: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else. It won’t happen for awhile, because there are a few good reads ahead of hers. But, who knows, I might juggle the list if only to find out how far I have really fallen in the political sphere of influence and how much my one vote truly does NOT count in the current state of democracy in America.

© 2010-2012 Kimberly Bluth or Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss (Bluth).