Is there room for politics when people are hurting?


Bird Droppings February 11, 2014
Is there room for politics when people are hurting?

Earlier in the morning as I went out after reading a friends note on acclimating to the cold I was standing outside pondering the day ahead in my shorts and t-shirt and it hit me I was freezing my butt off, so much for the theory of acclimating to cold. Time to get serious, it has been nearly forty years since I sat in Dr. Tony Campolo’s Sociology class room at the then Eastern Baptist College in St. David’s Pa. The school is now called Eastern College and a bit a bit more secular but it is still supported by the American Baptist Convention. Dr. Campolo even back in the day was concerned about people. He and his classes worked in inner city projects in Philadelphia setting up food banks and programs to offer economic support and jobs. He promoted setting up cottage industries in churches during the week to utilize the space and he promoted environmental causes before most of us ever were considering the concept. As I was reading this morning I found this passage in an article entitled “What’s a Red Letter Christian” by Dr. Campolo.

“Believing that Jesus is neither a Republican nor a Democrat, we want to unite Christians who are concerned about what is happening in America. We are evangelicals who are troubled by what is happening to poor people in America; who are disturbed over environmental policies that are contributing to global warming; who are dismayed over the increasing arrogance of power shown in our country’s militarism; who are outraged because government funding is being reduced for schools where students, often from impoverished and dysfunctional homes, are testing poorly; who are upset with the fact that of the 22 industrialized nations America is next to last in the proportion of its national budget (less than two-tenths of 1 percent) that is designated to help the poor of third-world countries; and who are broken-hearted over discrimination against women, people of color, and those who suffer because of their sexual orientation.” Dr. Tony Campolo

An interesting spin and turn for a country where politics and religion have been so closely tied and so many are fighting others over religious convictions and slashing aid to everyone.

“Evangelical leader, sociology professor, and Baptist minister Tony Campolo made headlines in the 1990s when he agreed to be a spiritual counselor to President Bill Clinton. A self-described Bible-believing Christian, he has drawn fire from his fellow evangelicals for his stance on contemporary issues like homosexuality. He talked with Beliefnet recently about his new book, ‘Speaking My Mind’.” Laura Sheahen, 2004 interview for Beliefnet.com

It has been so many years since I last talked with Tony Campolo. Somewhere in my library are several books by this enthusiastic writer and speaker and each is dog-eared from my readings. One has been around for some time “Carpe Diem” seize the day in Latin where Dr. Campolo addresses inner city poverty and possibilities forty years ago with progressive and innovative ideas. But a point in the first passage in Sheahen’s article that hit me as a teacher.
“Government funding is being reduced for schools where students, often from impoverished and dysfunctional homes, are testing poorly; “

In our current NCLB No Child Left Behind legislation demographics are not as crucial as test scores until you have the right numbers. On the Georgia Department of Education website the following is a description under Exceptional Children.

“A child with a disability is a child evaluated and determined to be eligible for special education services for intellectual disabilities, a hearing impairment including deafness, a speech or language impairment, a visual impairment including blindness, emotional disturbance, an orthopedic impairment, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairment, a specific learning disability, or deaf-blindness.” GADOE

This is the qualifier for Exceptional education in Georgia and essentially is that learning is affected by impairment. We then through NCLB, LRE, Least restrictive environment and a few more acronyms and Georgia has a beautiful vision statement.

“All students with disabilities in Georgia will participate in a challenging educational program designed to meet their unique needs that results in increased academic performance and prepares them for employment and independent living.” GADOE

But then we get into NCLB and federal and state laws and politics and such and that thought is lost.

“Under No Child Left Behind, all students, including those with disabilities, must meet Georgia’s proficient level of academic achievement by 2013-2014” GADOE

What becomes so amazing is that in this push to take disabled children and miraculous improve achievement levels to a norm level with all children is that the teachers who are trained to work with special needs children are being restricted and reduced. We are using inclusion to provide that LRE. It is by placing special needs children in regular class rooms often with a collaborative exceptional education teacher and sometimes without to solve the problem. I seriously wonder is this the solution? The basis is that simply being with regular education children will raise levels of performance. I am wandering today perhaps there are too many political nightmares ahead. I have an ongoing emailing with a friend about our issues in oil industry and corruption in politics that sometimes will keep me up at night.

Evidently the Army has given back over $300,000,000.00 in questionable money to Brown and Root for oil and fuel purchased during the initial reconstruction in Iraq. The Army internal auditors found major discrepancies and the money was being held. The Army senior staff ruled in favor of Brown and Root over internal Army auditors. Maybe I have been reading too much today. Dr. Campolo, NCLB, to questionable accounting in Iraq and where am I going. It is legislation passed by our Federal Government be it NCLB, accounting practices in Iraq and or whatever and whomever that require pages and pages of documents often to a point of meaninglessness. A recent piece of legislation to repeal another piece of legislation was a significant document. Often there are numerous bills tacked on here and there that many never see or hear about. Perhaps where I am going is the first statement from Dr. Campolo we should be:

“ troubled by what is happening to poor people in America; we should be disturbed over environmental policies that are contributing to global warming; dismayed over the increasing arrogance of power shown in our country’s militarism; outraged because government funding is being reduced for schools where students, often from impoverished and dysfunctional homes, are testing poorly; and upset with the fact that of the 22 industrialized nations America is next to last in the proportion of its national budget (less than two-tenths of 1 percent) that is designated to help the poor of third-world countries; and broken-hearted over discrimination against women, people of color, and those who suffer because of their sexual orientation.”

I read a recent blurb by a high school student on likes and dislikes one of the dislikes listed publicly was, homeless people. As I sat and thought reading this a few days ago how sad we have become. I have read teenagers blogs about why don’t homeless people get a job. I ran into a former student who is literally disabled from diabetes but not quite enough to get disability. He has a hard time holding a job because of his disability and inability to afford medical care and insulin. He passed out one time at work and was fired. There are programs available that could maybe keep him working but he wasn’t aware however he is now. But he could have been a homeless person very easily and not because he doesn’t want to work.

People, human beings with mental illness who only a few years ago would be in mental hospitals and in treatment now in our privatized system and are out on the street many homeless and most employers do not want someone who is not always here working for them. We can be hedonistic and pass off, but these people do not just go away. Children with disabilities with suggested legislation do not just go away when funding is cut even if they are hidden in the least restricted environment. We need to be more caring. We need to pardon the pun, “Carpe Diem.” So it is not just our service men and women but so many more we need to please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste. I will end borrowing from a line I have used daily for many years.

“It takes few words to speak the truth” Chief Joseph

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

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