As I reminisce on voting day, I narrow my reflections down to focus on two things: the first being how I continue to lose faith in most politicians and the second being how we have an education system in America that continues to fail youth around the country. Both of these issues I look at in the context of Ohio (where I vote) and Illinois (where I go to school and work with students in the Chicago Public School System). I never understood how so many people could vote for so many individuals that continue to spit on the lives of students who go to school in systems that continue to fail them. Furthermore, I am absolutely tired of people finding external scapegoats to create reasoning for not funding schools properly.
In Ohio we were close once. It was 2007, students from around the state created a youth agenda and Governor Ted Strickland (well former governor as of yesterday) was reforming education around the state. His reforms mirrored many of the suggestions students across the state put on our youth agenda. Then the economy hit and everything changed. Education got put on the backburner and the state/country turned their eyes to the financial crisis that began under the Bush regime. Now in 2010 the Ohio and the country seems to be shifting further and further away from any type of concrete reform in education. “Race to the top” funding still hasn’t reached some of the poorest systems in the country, Waiting for Superman seemed to only alarm people for about a week, and some of the Champions for Education (at the risk of being hyperbolic) Ted Strickland and Alexi Geanoulius don’t seem to be able to stay/get into office.
It is my fervent belief that an equal and fair education is one of the most important social issues that is challenges humanity. In high school, I was not properly educated, and when I came to college I felt that my human rights had been violated. I am from the inner city of Cleveland, Ohio, a place where only half the students graduate from high school and where only three out of every one hundred black men will graduate from college. In high school I was in the top ten percent of my class, but it was only when I came to college and had to play “catch-up” with my classmates, that I realized how bad the problems were with the public education system. This reality not only saddens me, but it has and will continue to encourage me to fight for equal and fair education for all youth, in and outside of the United States. My fight for a better education continues even through this election period and beyond. I spent the summer encouraging students to be active members of democracy and now I have decided to pledge my upcoming summer to the service of youth and education. I know I only have one life and one mind, and that many people share my beliefs, but if I shift my focus to national problems, especially in light of elections, I feel discouraged. The results of last nights elections is why I choose not to rely on policy makers to change things; this is also why I must continue to focus on one child at a time. “Each one, teach one” type of thing. At this point and time, that’s all I can do to keep up hope. Oh, BTW…why the crazy ass tea party-ers now control part of our government is still an enigma to me.