Charter Schools? I Don’t Think So

I don’t have kids, but I think I still have a dog in this hunt, so to speak, since I prefer an educated citizenry to an uneducated one.

I don’t have any statistics or links to back anything I’m about to say. I’m just going on observations, having lived in several different places and having several family members who are teachers.

Regardless of how much money is spent per student, if there is no support at home from parents and family members who care whether or not the child learns, the teacher will spend his or her time baby sitting. The parents who take advantage of vouchers and charter schools are typically the ones who read to their kids when they were little, made sure they learned their colors, their abc’s and how to tie their shoes before entering first grade. The presence of these kids in public schools is supposed to help some of that “caring about learning” rub off on the other kids, although I’m not sure it does.

In any case, I’d prefer that my tax dollars go to support a public school system rather than to a for-profit or religious school. I don’t think most for-profit private schools have the best interest of the students at heart. They’re too concerned about the bottom line, like a business should be. And, although most religious private schools provide a good education, I don’t think public money should be going to fund the schools. They usually offer scholarships to less fortunate, deserving kids anyway.

Just my two cents.

Expectations

I was talking with a co-worker of mine last week.  Her son is 13, just a few years younger than Trayvon Martin. She’s educated – graduated from the Naval Academy. She’s well traveled. She also can’t fathom what the entire world has against black men, against her son. She wonders why the darker a mans skin, the more evil people perceive him to be. She worries about the world she will send her son out into. I don’t blame her. I worry about it too.

Is it really any wonder that black men are looked at as being less than other people? All over the world, under the rule of English Imperialism, he started out enslaved. Most of the rest of the world awarded him his freedom because they eventually realized that he was just a darker, if lesser, version of themselves. Not us. We has to fight a war over it. After the war was over, we had to pass laws to make sure he didn’t become uppity. We told stories about black men who would come into people’s homes in the dead I might and rape white women. We turned the black man into a villain.
And we wonder why an entire group of people who’s skin is dark have trouble rising out of the abject poverty forced on their fore fathers. Those stories are still being told. He’s just living up to our expectations.

What’s the Big Deal About Chick-Fil-A?

Make no mistake, Chick-Fil-A makes a really good chicken sandwich.  Their waffle fries aren’t bad either.  It’s also a place where you know if you order a coke, you’re going to actually be served a Coca-Cola.  So, if I like the food they serve, why don’t I eat there anymore?

There’s lots of people out there who would have you believe it’s because of the statements made by Dan Cathy last month about his personal beliefs.  In an online post on July 16th, the Baptist Press reported, “Some have opposed the company’s support of the traditional family. “Well, guilty as charged,” said Cathy when asked about the company’s position.  ”We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”  I support Mr. Cathy’s right to express his views and beliefs.  I’ll defend him until I’m blue in the face, even though I disagree with him.  I expect him to do the same for me.

However, if a few select mayors hadn’t gotten involved, most people probably wouldn’t have even heard about Mr. Cathy’s quote.  Boston Mayor Tom Menino, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, and San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee all issued statements that indicated the values represented by Chick-Fil-A were out of step with the values of their respective cities.  If that was all they had said, maybe they would have gotten away with it.  But they went a step further.  They indicated that Chick-Fil-A wasn’t welcome in their cities and that they would attempt to ban any Chick-Fil-A restaurants trying to open in their cities.  At least New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took the high road.  In a statement made on the John Gambling radio show, Bloomberg said, “You can’t have a test for what the owners’ personal views are before you decide to give a permit to do something in the city. You really don’t want to ask political beliefs or religious beliefs before you issue a permit. That’s just not government’s job.”

Bloomberg is right.  What his fellow mayors are doing is stepping all over the first amendment.  We all have a right to disagree with Mr. Cathy’s viewpoints and beliefs.  But when a public official attempts to ban a business because of the views of its owner or CEO, it has violated that individuals right to free speech.  The actions of these mayors brought out the full force and fury of right wing conservatives.  They accused the liberal left of trying to silence anyone who disagrees with them.  They didn’t just go after the offending mayors, they went after progressives as a whole, stirring up another firestorm.

Just for the record, the freedom of speech guaranteed by the first amendment means that we can all express our opinions without worrying about whether the government will suppress that speech.  It doesn’t mean that we’re free from having others disagree with us.

So, back to the original question.  If I have no problem with Mr. Cathy holding and expressing beliefs that differ from my own, why do I not frequent his restaurants?  The answer is simple.  I don’t eat Chick-Fil-A sandwichs anymore because of where the company chooses to donate its money.  And my decision to boycott the restaurant was made long before Mr. Cathy decided to go on record about his beliefs.

According to research conducted by EqualityMatters, in 2010 Chick-Fil-A, through its WinShape foundation, contributed approximately $2,000,000 to groups that actively seek to restrict equal rights for LGBT individuals. The contributions can be broken down as follows:

WinShape Gave Over $1.9 Million To Anti-Gay Groups. In 2010, WinShape donated $1,974,380 to a number of anti-gay groups:

[Winshape 2010 Publicly Available IRS 990 Form via Foundation Center, accessed 6/27/12]

To be fair, I recognize that some of these groups provide valuable services for families and the communities they serve and are not exclusively anti-gay organizations.

So you’re still wondering, what’s the big deal?  So a company makes donations to a charity?  If I like the food, why don’t I eat there?  It’s simple, really.  I don’t want even a percentage of a penny of my money to go to these organizations.  When I buy a sandwich at Chick-Fil-A, the revenue the company makes goes to all of the functions of the company.  A portion goes to the cost of chicken, the bun, and the pickle.  A portion goes to pay the cashier and the cooks.  A portion goes to pay for the electricity, the building, and the franchise fees that go back the corporation itself.  Those franchise fees go to pay for advertising that all restaurants profit from.  It helps pay executive salaries and other overhead expenses.  And a small, small amount goes into the pot that gets divvied up among the corporations charitable donations.  From that pot in 2010, almost $2,000,000 went to charitable organizations that are actively working to undermine my personal well being.  Because I don’t want to fund my own personal well being, I don’t eat at Chick-Fil-A.

The 2nd Amendment – My View

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

I don’t pretend to be a constitutional lawyer, but this is how I ready the 2nd amendment, but here’s how I understand it. Back in the day, like, say after we became a country, the government wasn’t providing arms to the soldiers. So, in order to raise a well armed militia, the men needed to show up with their own guns. It was necessary that the people be allowed to keep and bear arms so that they would be able to become soldiers whenever needed. Now that we have a very well armed military, it’s no longer necessary.

That being said, I have no problem with hunters owning hunting rifles or people having handguns for protection or target shooting. However, there is no reason for anyone to own military style, automatic rifles.

Truly Unique

Unique.  That’s what we’re always told.  You’re unique.  There’s no one else in the world like you.  While that’s true from a genetic standpoint, there are others who are exactly us – our siblings.  Our brothers and sisters share the exact same lineage.  Those people that we grew up with, fought hardest with, stood up for and miss every day of our adult lives share the same ancestors.  I know, it seems so obvious, but think about it.

We’re not just the sum total of our genetics.  At the moment of our birth, that’s what forms us. But from that moment forward, we start to become a person formed not only by the society around us, but also my the experiences that have formed our family unit. We learn the “pick yourself up from your bootstraps” ethic that was formed through our mothers family that had to fight for every thing they ever had.  We learn that what we have today can be gone in an instant from our fathers family that lost it all and had to start all over.

These experiences that are the “genetics” of our family are so much more than DNA. They are what make us who we are and who we will become.  They are what inform our parents of the lessons that we need to be taught.  Even though other people may learn the same lessons that we and our siblings learn, they lessons weren’t formed through the same life experiences.  This combination of biology and heritage is what makes each of us truly unique.

There's nothing that can't be fixed with hard work, a little ingenuity, and duct tape.