For some reason, this is our curse. We are the flashpoint for many, many important national confrontations.
The most notable is Brown v. Board, but through the years education has consistently bore the burden of these national confrontations. Evolution (Scopes & Kitzmiller), government regulation of speech (Tinker & Pickering), Affirmative Action (Bakke, Grutter, etc.), the Pledge of Allegiance (Newdow), Disabilities (IDEA), Poverty (Title I) and on and on.
It now seems we are tasked with this role once again. This time it is increasingly looking as though the national debate between the Obama movement and the Teaparty movement might center on schools. In his recent budget release, President Obama called for increased federal spending on education. In their response, the U.S. House (pressured by the Teaparty movement) called for 5 billion in cuts. As Education Week reported:
“We’re clearly headed to some kind of showdown,” said Joel Packer, a veteran education lobbyist who now works for the Washington-based Raben Group, where he represents the Committee for Education Funding, a lobbying coalition. The Obama administration’s fiscal year 2012 spending plan seeks to raise funding for the U.S. Department of Education by more than 4 percent, he noted.
“House Republicans and the administration are moving in exact opposite directions. These are not just minor differences,” Mr. Packer said. “They’re radically different visions of what the federal role in education should be.”
I pray that this fight does not put education in the middle. The initial fight seemed to center around healthcare, but on that front the Obama administration has already won. On education, the movements are currently on equal footing. And so, once again, it is increasingly looking as if education will be the flashpoint.
It is quite the burden to ask our children to bear, but, as before, I'm sure they will prove their shoulders are broad enough to facilitate our future. However, we adults should know better than to ask our children to pay this price for us. Let us fight over Social Security. Let us fight over healthcare. Let us fight over taxes. Let us fight over defense. Let us fight between ourselves. But, history tells us ... we won't. It is our children's burden to bear. God forgive us.