During the last few decades, the politicization of education has changed its purpose from creating an informed citizenry AND an educated workforce to merely creating an educated work force. Having well prepared workers is obviously essential in maintaining our status as the world’s most powerful economic force, but one can also argue that having an informed citizenry is just as important in maintaining our freedoms as a society. After all, the world’s dictators try to keep their citizens in the dark for a reason.
Since nearly every discussion today is based on one’s political beliefs, it is as if facts no longer exist. But, they do, and pretending as if they don’t has turned us from a nation run by people who are interested in doing what is right to doing what is politically correct. Why else would politicians need to consult public opinion polls before casting their vote on an issue? When was the last time you worried about poll numbers before deciding on the best course of action for you or your family?
If one believes education is power, and I do, then why would we willingly allow those in charge to make decisions that impact our lives unchecked? Don’t we have enough evidence proving it is in our best interest to be informed and to question those in power instead of just believing everything they say? Why are we comfortable allowing those in power to gain more and more control over our lives? I just don’t get it.
Speaking from experience, many politicians treat those who dare question them as if we are petulant, disrespectful children who should be seen, but not heard. I, for one, hate being treated like a child. The fact is, it is every citizen’s responsibility to question them, since they are supposed to be serving us, and we should demand that their decisions be based on life as it is and not on some legislative platform that is based on political myths.
To allow politicians to define education as something that occurs only in a classroom and only between the ages of 5 and 18 is foolish. While those 13 school years are certainly important, for most of us they represent a small percentage of our lives. Are we really supposed to believe that learning ends when we are handed a high school diploma? Of course not. The fact is, the education that occurs AFTER we graduate is far more important than those first 13 years are, and each of us is responsible for keeping ourselves informed.
As an example, think about how many times members of both political parties present us with a completely opposite set of “facts” to justify their actions. Can the solutions to important issues like our economy, health care, drug abuse, gun control, poverty, global warming, and abortion, to name just a few, be completely driven by one’s political alliance? The answer should be an emphatic NO!
Take the topic of man-made global warming, for example. One can be relatively certain that Democrats are going to tell us we are on the edge of extinction because of human activity while Republicans will classify it as a hoax. Both will cite “facts” supporting their position. How can both be true? How can one’s viewpoint on such an important topic be determined solely by one’s party affiliation? How dumb are we supposed to be?
Just the other day, for example, I heard a political hack state that the scientists of the world are unanimous on the topic of man-made global warming. That is a lie. There are thousands of scientists who believe there are factors more important than human beings for global warming, but we rarely hear about them. If we want to learn about other theories, we have to research them for ourselves. Why is that?
Interestingly, “Sun Dominates Climate Change,” a recent article by Dr. Tim Ball and Tom Harris, both of whom are experts in climate research, suggests that natural solar activity is a much more important contributor to climate change than humans are. You should read it because it offers a perspective that is rarely heard in politics or in our media.
Now, what makes their perspective more believable than those who claim humans are destroying our climate? Nothing. But that’s the point. It’s our job not to listen to one person’s or one party’s spin on important issues confronting us, but to study opposing viewpoints without political biases to determine the answer for ourselves. There is a wealth of information available that allows us to do just that. But only one side is highly publicized.
When a politician proclaims that we have 12 years to address global warming before we face extinction, we should be educated enough to dismiss it as the political gibberish it is. Have we already forgotten the multitude of similar doomsday proclamations Al Gore confidently made just a few years ago, armed with facts from the “experts” that have been proven untrue? Why would we fall for that song and dance again, on this topic and many more? Given what we know about the political dishonesty that is rampant today, why would we ever unequivocally accept a politician’s explanation on any topic?
It is indisputable that our “leaders” attempt to force feed us silliness on a variety of topics every day.
But that only works if we are uneducated enough to accept it.
Tom Dunn is the former superintendent of the Miami County Educational Service Center.