Friday, April 26, 2013

Hoosiers Victorious

On Thursday, April 25, 2013, approximately 150 Hoosiers created a historic moment by coming together at the Indiana Statehouse to show support for HB1427. The bill, introduced by Indiana State Representative Rhonda Rhoads, almost collapsed as interest groups such as the Indiana Chamber of Commerce pressed for the full implementation of the Common Core program in Indiana.  With the support of State Senators Scott Schneider and Dennis Kruse, HB1427 shall now have the opportunity to procure a vote on Friday. 

Speaking at the rally on Thursday, Heather Crossin, one of the founders of Hoosiers Against Common Core, emphasized the duty and obligation of all Hoosiers (and Americans) to scrutinize legislation, particularly those pieces of legislation that are passed without the consent of the governed.  Common Core, originally accepted in Indiana in 2010 under the pen of then Governor Mitch Daniels has recently come under fire for several reasons.  Amongst others, perhaps the testiest of these is the underhanded maneuverings of the federal government in promoting the Common Core agenda that seeks to nationalize education for American children in grades K-12.  Although, the federal government, the Common Core “engineers” and their supporters continue to point out that the program is “state driven” and that every state has the “choice” to “opt-out,” the Obama Administration’s Race to the Top Program promoted to extend federal grants to states that cooperate with implementing Common Core belies this argument.

In Indiana, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce has diligently voiced its disdain towards all Hoosiers who are against the Common Core agenda.  According to the Chamber, “Two moms from Indianapolis, a handful of their friends and a couple dozen small but vocal Tea Party groups. That’s the entire Indiana movement that is advocating for a halt to the Common Core State Standards. No educational backgrounds. No track record of supporting education reforms or any other past education issues. And worst of all: A demonstrated willingness to say just about anything, no matter how unsubstantiated or blatantly false, to advocate their cause.”  Their argument is laughable at best when one considers the Chamber’s own position on de-emphasizing the truth about Common Core.  For example, how can Common Core be a state driven program when the federal government holds the purse strings and continues to dangle the carrot in front of every state that is clearly in need of financial reprieve under the current administration’s oppressive economic plans? 

As to the emphasis on "no educational backgrounds" has the Chamber verified this information about every individual who is against Common Core in Indiana?  Are we to assume all those against Common Core are illiterate and thereby unable to decipher the best form of education for their children?  It is miraculous indeed that so many Americans managed to survive and gain an adequate education before the existence of bureaucrats and the federal government.  Surely, the Chamber does not mean that a fraction of Indiana's citizenry, many who own businesses in Indiana that support the Chamber itself, are mere illiterate buffoons.  Why, that would indeed be a preposterous assessment!  What bears noting in this case is that the Chamber is guilty of its own accusation against others because they are "saying just about anything, no matter how unsubstantiated or blatantly false, to advocate their cause."

The bigger question of course is who gave the Chamber of Commerce the authority to make decisions about education?  According to the Chamber's mission statement, "The Indiana Chamber of Commerce will cultivate a world-class environment which provides economic opportunity and prosperity for the people of Indiana and their enterprises."  Precisely where does education fit in the mix of the Chamber's mission?  Yet, cultivating a "world-class environment" for Hoosiers lines up well with Common Core's agenda to nationalize education for American children.  Of course, there is no legitimate connection here and the fight against Common Core in Indiana is simply an outgrowth of "hysterical," uneducated country bumpkins headed by "two moms" from Indianapolis.  Right.

In most cases, parents are the first teachers of their children and are indeed better qualified in knowing what form of education is best for their child instead of an out of touch bureaucracy, interest group or worse the government.  Amongst other things, it is the parents who teach their child to walk, talk, behave, handle emotions, make friends, respect others, read, write, fish, swim, play sports, and become a stable member of society.  By discrediting the role of parents and positioning the government in their place, the Chamber and the federal government tread on dangerous grounds.  Indeed, it is because of the People that America still has a chance to keep the government in check:  a Constitutional principle that seems lost on bureaucrats and the government.  Therefore, if anything, we ought to salute the “two moms” and many other moms, dads, grandparents, friends, and relatives for taking it upon themselves to oppose such attacks on the family by those who claim to know better than us.  What Hoosiers accomplished by standing together in the Indiana Statehouse on Thursday is a victory for every freedom loving American that should be celebrated and repeated often, with gusto.   




Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Common Core Agenda: Rotten to the Core

For many parents, teachers, and community members throughout America, the application of the Common Core Standards in schools has become a great source of concern.  At the crux of it, Common Core means to nationalize education for K-12 students in America.  The underlying tone of federal government overreach has led many Americans to question the Common Core agenda. 

The “rigorous” standards of the Common Core program intend to sharpen American children so that they can be ready “for college and career readiness in a twenty-first-century, globally competitive society.”  Of course, the preparers of these “standards” fail to acknowledge that America has been a “globally competitive society” since its inception.  Are we to assume that great Americans who preceded us were incapable of contributing to such a society?  If the engineers of the Common Core are right then we should wipe out Benjamin Franklin, Abigail Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Thomas Edison, Ernest Hemingway, and the Wright brothers amongst others from the pages of American history.  These individuals were only a few of the self-educated Americans who greatly influenced our culture and society.  Indeed, their contributions were so tremendous that we still benefit from them today.  Hardly any of them relied on the government’s policies to make them intelligent.  Hard work, perseverance, and the freedom to pursue their dreams were what made them brilliant.  Should we expect any less for America’s children today?  Apparently, the government seems to think so.  As such, it has taken the initiative to dictate how young Americans must learn.   

Although the preparers of this helpful program assert that states have the right to accept or reject the standards, it is obvious that rejecting the program would leave states at a financial disadvantage.  According to The Foundry, part of the Heritage Foundation, the Obama Administration pushed the Race to the Top (RTTT) plan that allows for, “a $4.35 billion initiative to award states for pursuing education reforms consistent with the Department of Education’s definition of reform.”  With many states struggling economically under the policies of the current administration, how many would seriously consider rejecting a proposal that allows them some reprieve?   

Consider for example, the state of Indiana.  According to the Sunshine Review, in 2011, 34.53% of the state’s budget came “from the federal government” and “the budget increase[d] funding in key areas such as K-12 education….”  Where does the Common Core apply?  Correct.  Common Core Standards establish a “…single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade….”  Furthermore, Indiana “spends more than half of its budget on education.”  Quite simply, if Indiana spends more than half of its budget on education and receives 34.53% of its budget from the federal government, it is plausible that Indiana would want to support the Common Core agenda to receive funding necessary for its economy.  Indeed, according to the U.S. Department of Education, Indiana became one of the winners of the 2012 RTTT program.  To be sure, Indiana (and other states) may accept or reject the Common Core as indicated by the Common Core agenda, almost as much as someone rejecting a blood transfusion.

Other organizations within Indiana have also shown support for Common Core.  Indiana’s Chamber of Commerce for example is one such group that is excited about joining the league of supporters of the Common Core program.  When questioned about their stance, the Chamber offered their blog that states, “support by the Obama administration has caused some critics to suggest, incorrectly, that the standards have actually been developed by the federal government and/or have been “mandated” by the federal government.”  Furthermore, the Chamber notes that, “in Indiana, those concerns have emerged most prominently from a small fringe element of the Tea Party that have demanded Indiana withdraw from the Common Core.”  Although the Chamber graciously “acknowledged” that “some of the critics – at least those focused on contents of the standards” may have reasonable doubts, it notes that other individuals are simply susceptible to “hysterical exaggerations of federal intrusion.”  In other words, those Hoosier parents, family members, teachers, and other members of the community who are against the Common Core agenda are associated with the out of control Tea Party movement.  Now where in the world have we heard that before? 

Yet, we should be mindful that the Chamber is maintaining its neutrality and it expects “the Legislature to leave such determinations in the hands of our state’s education leaders, including the Department of Education, the Education Roundtable and the State Board of Education, rather than subjecting our standards to the politicized environment of the Legislature.”  Indeed, the Chamber’s neutrality is evident when it states that, “opposition is supported by a handful of national researchers from mostly far-right think tanks that have claimed that the standards are poorly designed, lacking in rigor and too expensive to implement. Other researchers and think tanks – along with education officials from Indiana – have rebuked these criticisms; yet, the debate continues.”  Of course, there is nothing political about the Chamber’s position, why they are simply looking to advance better opportunities for Hoosier children.     

The Common Core does have an agenda.  Far from promoting the best interests of American children, the Common Core aims to give the federal government another opportunity to nationalize a part of American society.  It should be the priority and prerogative of every parent, nay every American, to question the motivations of individuals and organizations responsible for increasing government power over our lives.  Patrick Henry once said that we must all “guard with jealous attention the public liberty” and “suspect everyone who approaches that jewel.”  Although proponents of Common Core claim it is a state sponsored program meant to improve the quality of education for young Americans, it is indeed a most troublesome agenda that will further destroy our liberties.  As such, it becomes the duty of every American to protect our liberties, those of our children, and inevitably the Republic even if our critics label us “hysterical.”  Unless we are willing to forgo the Twains, Hemingways, and Edisons of the future, we must always stand guard against the motivations of a tyrannical government be it on a state or federal level. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Reflections: The Question of Immigrants

I am a first generation immigrant from India.  I love my country:  the United States of America.  I am well versed in the rich history of our nation and greatly admire the founding generation.  People often ask me why some immigrants ignore the nation’s founding principles.  Although majority of immigrants love America, whether they understand our nation’s history, particularly that of the early Republic is another matter.  Several reasons may exist for this phenomenon.  The few that I have come to understand essentially involve a lack of knowledge of our fundamental principles.

Of course, by lack of knowledge I mean improper education about our nation’s founding.  To be sure, many immigrants are well-educated members of the society and hardly illiterate.  The improper education I speak of comes from the de-emphasis of civics and American history in public schools, colleges, and universities throughout America.  None of these institutions spend any substantial amount of time teaching the fundamentals of American history.  Students often exit high schools with only a vague idea about the founding principles.  For instance, many are unaware that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land.  Still fewer of them know the causes of the American Revolution.  It is hardly surprising then that if they do attend college, they must re-learn (and in some cases learn to begin with) the basics of American history in their first year as part of their general education requirement.  All students, including immigrants, experience the same diluted version of American history in public schools throughout the country. 

Another reason why immigrants fail to understand the importance of the founding generation is from a lack of regard for American history.  Often these individuals remain tied to their old country and are unwilling to accept America as their homeland.  They enter the United States with dreams and ambitions of acquiring a decent education, employment, and lifestyle without considering the liberties that allow them to gain all of these opportunities.  Many of these immigrants have already completed college in their country of origin before arriving to the United States.  Therefore, for them, the opportunity to learn about the founding of the United States becomes even more remote.  For example, in India, children are well versed in the history of their country by the time they reach college.  There are people who have lived in the United States for several decades but they can still sing the national anthem of India without missing a beat.  On the other hand, the same immigrants falter when singing the Star Spangled Banner.  Yet, it is important to remember, that in many such cases, the lack of regard for American history stems more from the ignorance of it than from any disdain towards America.             

Some immigrants also reject the founding principles outright and embrace the progressive culture that exists in our nation today because it allows them to feel at home.  These individuals find the utopian idea of collectivism more akin to their lifestyle than the idea wrapped in liberty and freedom.  For them such an effort in society is a steady reminder of their old ways and thereby an idea to be cherished.  Even for those who lived under difficult circumstances in their country of origin, holding onto an old idea, however terrible it might be is often comforting when pitted against the confusing culture of America.  In this idealistic world, they find a place to be as they were back at home.  Indeed, they consider progressive values the true basis of freedom for everyone over the stale ideology of liberty from a bygone era.  They delight in the movement and ardently support it so others can find the same joys they experience.  Cases such as these suggest that some immigrants are more receptive to ideas reminiscent of their “home.”

Even though the reasons for their negligent attitude towards the early Republic vary from one group of immigrants to another, one common element resides in all three examples.  In each case, the immigrants suffer from a lack of knowledge or improper education of our nation’s founding principles.  As such, they are more likely to follow the status quo instead of taking the time to learn about what makes America a fundamentally unique nation.  The idea of liberty resonates even less with such individuals because it is a vague notion, far removed from their “reality.”  Perhaps, if immigrants had the proper education about our nation’s founding era, they could reconsider their views about America’s future.  Ironically, in cases such as these, immigrants are similar to Americans who remain misinformed about their country’s founding.  If all Americans took the time to study the founding principles and learn about their heritage, we may finally be on the proper course to making America great again.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Americans Unite!

Last night I attended my first local tea party meeting.  My purpose of going to the meeting was quite simple:  I wanted to find people fighting for our nation against all odds.  I wanted to gather any information I could to help stand against those who continue to trample on our rights as Americans.  Indeed, I wanted to arm myself with facts about the political leaders destroying our Constitution under the guise of working for the People.

We met in the backroom of a small pub on Main Street.  The room was lit up with overhead lights and dark green carpeting covered the length of the floor.  Several chairs and tables occupied the small room.  Crisp, white tablecloths covered the tables and menus lay on some of them, awaiting one’s perusal.  The faint aroma of some tantalizing dish permeated the air beyond the confines of the room.  If candles could have replaced electricity in this room, one could almost imagine that they had just entered an old tavern in the back alley of Main Street in Williamsburg, Boston or Philadelphia in 1776.

The meeting included an interesting group of men and women from all areas of life.  They were true patriots, looking for answers to the many questions we all share today.  Once everyone had greeted each other, we settled down and began the meeting with reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a prayer.  Everyone stood and said the Pledge; perhaps none realized how moving the moment became for me.  Indeed, it has been ages since I stood in a group, surrounded by fellow Americans, saying the Pledge of Allegiance.  I almost choked as the familiar words echoed throughout the room.  Along with the others, I stated those words long impressed upon my heart, not mechanically, but with pride and gumption.  We had all arrived at the meeting with our own thoughts but we all believed in the same thing:  The policies under the current administration are moving the country in the wrong direction.     

The issues we addressed were similar to those many Americans are discussing throughout the country today.  That ugly and venomous serpent, Obamacare, was at the head of our list.  As was the despicable Common Core initiative.  Yet, nothing topped the conversation more than the incompetence of the GOP.  We the People realize that these outrageous policies are mere offsets of the main problem.  The root of the problem is the inability of our leaders to stand firm with the truth in the face of all opposition.  So, what is the truth?  For the purpose of American government, the truth lies within the Constitution, a document that has supported this nation since the birth of the Republic.  Unfortunately, it is also the document no longer looked upon as the law of the land by our leaders but a mere hindrance for a better form of government in America.  Of course, with the breakdown of the family and thereby the society and culture, one has to wonder how much better off we truly are under the present form of government.

The Constitution remains our bedrock for good, solid government.  Undeniably, there existed gaps in some areas when the People ratified the Constitution during the early Republic.  Yet, despite these gaps, the Constitution was brilliant in its conception.  Written by statesmen, not career politicians, the Constitution provided Americans with a blueprint to grow the form of government that best represented the People.  Today, this great document is in peril.  To avoid the uprooting of our nation’s foundation, Americans must put aside petty differences and unite to salvage our heritage by holding our leaders accountable or risk losing our liberty forever.