Monday, October 27, 2008

Barack Obama: An Educator's Nightmare?

It was nice this weekend to get out in the Fall air and speak with many folks in the neighborhood and it is fair to say that this election certainly is one of the greatest endeavors undertaken by the country in a long, long time. The challenge the country faces right now is one rooted in direction. We must all ask ourselves exactly what direction we would like our nation to take and how we would like that direction fullfilled.

Those of you who were kind enough to speak with me on Saturday I cannot thank you enough. The dialogue of ideas is what I have always sought out and tried to harness. Many of us who consider ourselves fiscal conservatives are not the narrow minded lot that many in the media portray us to be. Afterall, we all care alot about the same basic things; family, faith, community and the future.

This post is not about politics and nor is it politically motivated. It is merely a question.

What I learned on Saturday has flat out floored me. Growing up in Chesterfield, I was fortunate to being exposed to some of best teachers and educators in the entire Commonwealth. It was is really the basic reason I have chosen to live here for the future of my young children with two almost ready to enter the school system. We forget about alot of what we learned growing up. We are told that these are changing times and things are not the same. I wonder if it is we are just different and everything else is pretty much the same in terms of the reality. Balancing work and family is no different than what our parents had to undertake. Certainly there are more diversions, especially for our children than for us growing up. Children today do not spend hours on end in the street playing touch football with twenty other kids, but instead spend more time on the computer, video games, or god forbid text messaging. In the end, the reality is the same. You want your children to have just enough exposure to the world and the community to develop the essential skills required for later on in life, but at the heart of it all you want them to have a firm undertanding of what it means to be an American, a Virginian, and a person of faith (whatever that faith may be).

By the word "direction" this is what I mean by having a basis for the future. All to often, before Saturday I associated "direction" from all the campaign rhetoric as being relative to economics or tax plans. What I learned on Saturday and from such a unlikely source is I have had this all wrong.

So what happened?

In meeting with people and speaking with folks, knocking on doors, developing relationships you never really know just where your feet will take you and just who you may encounter. I say this because in recent months I have seen quite alot of Obama signs crop up in what has been historically a very red district for decades. I like to stop and talk to anyone who will enage in conversation if for no other reason to learn the different rationales for supporting an candidate.

As I made my way over to an adjacent subdivision, I turned the corner and noticed a very strange sight. A home with the following; Warner, Obama, and McCain/Palin sign in the front yard and two cars in the drive parked side by side with stickers; one with Obama/Biden and one with McCain/Palin. No way was I gonna pass this one up.

As I approached the home, a man called out from the side of the house "Son, I am around here". The voice rang true to me. There was something familiar but I could not place it. As I walked through the parked cars in the driveway, it did not take wme long to realize I was walking back in time. There before me was not only one of the best teachers in my life but also a former coach who taught us alot more about life than the sport. He recognized me right out. After catching up, I finally managed enough guts to bring up the election. I say guts because the man infront of me was the very teacher who instilled everything inside of me concerning what we used to call "civics". This was the class in which we learned about government, the Founding Fathers, the Declaration, the Constitution and above all States Rights.

I had to ask about the signs. "Well, it is what it is-what can I tell you". I could tell there was some frustration in the tone and quickly asked about the McCain/Palin sign. With sharp eyes I could tell I was getting the once over. "Not as many around as I would have thought", I had wondered if he meant "hoped" but I let him continue. He went on to tell me that the McCain/Palin sign is his but that he was also supporting Mark Warner. "Warner does'nt scare me, you know what your gona get" and before he could finish I asked "And Obama?".

What I learned was a lesson that took me back some twenty years to sitting in the classroom and listening and having my soul being shaped by this man in terms of what it means to be an American. You have to remember, this was back in the 80's. Ripe with Ronald Reagan optimism, duty to the country and service. Some of my families core values were watered by this man in the classroom. Those out there that say educators have no rel impact on young people are completely out of touch. The impact is even greater today.

My old teacher gave me a refresher course in civics and politics. He was the first to teach me that they are not one in the same. Above all else, we spoke of the Constitution. He told me that Barack Obama threatens everything that he has spent a life long passion of building in young people. He articulated that the Obama you see and hear is one Obama, but in reality when you read his penned thoughts in his book and his teachings on law he stands for everything opposite we have taught in public schools for decades. He never used words like "radical" or "extreme" and based on what I knew of him I did not expect him to, but what he did talk about was the falicies of ideology Obama had in terms of the Founding Fathers and the documents the nation is based on.

Obama, as I learned, does not see the U.S. Consititution as a binding document. Obama interprets the Constitution as merely a "symbolic guide" where the meaning and tenets can be altered or changed on the whim of the times. I followed up with questions about how we have changed our Constitution and I learned that my teacher firmly believed as he taught us that "legislative" changes are indeed the route to take and are a requirement, thus we have Amendments that curbed wrongs like slavery, suffrage, and equal rights. But these matters were ratified by the States and the People. Obama's aim is to change and alter the intent of the Constitution not by the "legislative" actions but by "judicial" measures.

He stated that "Obama sees the Constitution as the rock in which he and other like lawyers must break themselves against". Obama seeks to remove the constraints of government which was set forth by our Fathers to keep control in the hands of the People. Obama see the will of the People through the ballot box and not through the protection of the Constitution or Bill of Rights. I learned that the interpretation that the Constitution is "living and breathing" is rhetoric for the Courts needs to be more empathetic to the People and that is not the role of the Judiciary.

It felt like I was back at school. It was refreshing. None of this was political. It was scholarly in fact. It was based on facts and statements and even Obama's books. I could not help but think he was in the minority in terms of educators. We are all prone to believe that teachers and unions support Democrats, but here was one who knew something about a small yet powerful aspect to this election that had influenced him so profoundly that he was going in another direction.

The views expressed struck me so hard, I found myself Sunday morning at Barnes and Noble picking up a few books on the matter. My teacher was right. Alot of what he said is right there in Obama's own words. Obama completely discounts the Tenth Amendment in that it is up to the States to pass such laws that are not defined or identified in the Constitution, which illustrates the basis of our Federal Government covenants. Its not up to the courts, any court, to do anything remotely close to what Obama is advocating.

Alot of this says nothing about Obama's leadership nor questions his ability to do so. Its not a negative attack on Obama nor was it presented to me as such, but a mere view based on Obama's own intent and intrepretation. Based on what Obama has said and done as a constitutional lawyer and set forth in Court, he will take our nation in an entirely different direction in term of our Founding Fathers. Maybe the majority wishes he do so, but if he does wish to do so I would expect that we all deserve to hear about it and be afforded the opportunity to examine his teachings and his court cases before we decide it is in the best interests of our nation to turn over the Constitution to him and his appointees at the Federal and potentially the Supreme Court level.

None of this is related to specific issues either; ie abortion. It is a fundamental examination of what Obama truly feels about our Constitution and how it shall be imployed regardless of what the underlying case is. Does Obama believe in a stronger Central Government? Does he intend to limit the power of the States?

Folks I do not want to be the alarmist, but the the foundations for such diversions from the true core and standing of our Constitution is what in fact resulted in this nation going down the path of the great Civil War. The Federal Government returning to the proposition of telling States what they can and cannot do is a very dangerous endeavor and as a Virginian I take real objection to such views.

It was nice to learn that one of my favorite teachers lived so close to where I now raise my family along with my wife. It was also nice to get a different perspective in that my old teacher reaffirmedin his view that "Obama is an educator's nightmare!" Well, maybe only the civic and government educators that is. The other educators apparently seem to like him just fine.


Anonymous said...

You touch on the single biggest problem with this election. Information. There has been such a lack of objective journalism in this election all voters get is a steady dose of what they want people to know but not the truths. I am not saying that Obama has some sorded past, but why is no one publishing his syllabus from his lectures. Why has the media not demanded his disstertation or thesis on government? How about his full medical file and not just two paragraph statement? What about his addiction to smoking? Why have there been no questions posed to him at a time when we are trying to get young people off cigarettes about his addiction? I only say this because his smoking has been hideen from us in the media as well as his former use of illegal drugs, not marijuana but cocaine. Why are we not allowed to talk about that at all or have him discuss how he overcame his drug use as in his book? You hit some things about how are kids will be educated and what doctrine will be used in the future. It seems to me that Obama may try and do to the public school system what has been done to the college system which has become vastly more liberal than before. Think Columbia University. It saddens me what this nation could become and what future generations will value in society and these values start with the President.

John said...

Alter, what your former teacher failed to mention is Barack Obama does not endorse the "seperation of powers" in the Constitution given his words on the subject of personal libery. Obama sees liberty tied to directly to government, which is why Obama in his legislation discounts personal responsibility. Obama believes that we do not enter our Courts as equals and judges should look at our situations and demonstrate "empathy" when passing judgement; this is absurd and is counter to justice being blind.
Your former teacher is not the only one with the concerns. We could be entering a transitional period in history with regard to our "powers".

Anonymous said...

I would love to talk fiscal conservatism over a beer Alter. I like the man you reference here am supporting Warner as well. Not that I think that Mark Warner is leaps and bounds better than Gilmore, I don't. I think we need more business-minded leaders in Washington and I think Gilmore caters more toward the far right of the Party. I mean we need people up there who have built a business and understand that whole scenario and at this point I doubt that warner will be a lap dog for Obama should he win. I will not be voting for Obama however. I have not determined if it will be McCain or Bob Barr yet, but I can't vote for Obama.
Everday we are learning more about Obama and I just feel that alot of this stuff we should have learned a long time ago. If there has been a person who has not been fully vetted it is certainly Obama and it just doesn't make sense unless people are trying to hide things from the people.
I worry about the federal DOE as well. A direct result e=in removing all aspects of religion, like clubs, mandated from Washington as been a direct result in lowering achievement and more vilence in inner city schools as well. I am not saying teach relgion but I do think there should be opportunities for those who want to reach out to it there should be options. The fact that Obama does not support charter schools is another nail for me.

If he truly believes that opportunity should be delivered to lower working class than shouldn't school choice be a part of that equation.

I do not know where they get these polls that women are flocking to Obama either. I certainly am not nor are many of my friends.

Anonymous said...

1) Do You still want the American dream & opportunity to work hard & achieve success, paying your share of taxes to help others, & choosing your own add'l. ways to help others, maybe in a church hcarity, or a public charity, or even on your own.


2) Do You just want hand-outs from the government, keeping you in one place forever. Remember, in this government, if you achieve higher, your pay will be confiscated by higher taxes, & redistributed to those who don't work, or make very low pay. You also will not be able to build an estate for your children ( a house, insurance policy, & any cash, etc. ) as the govt. will take more than halfl of it upon your death.

Anonymous said...

1) Do You still want the American dream & opportunity to work hard & achieve success, paying your share of taxes to help others, & choosing your own add'l. ways to help others, maybe in a church hcarity, or a public charity, or even on your own.


2) Do You just want hand-outs from the government, keeping you in one place forever. Remember, in this government, if you achieve higher, your pay will be confiscated by higher taxes, & redistributed to those who don't work, or make very low pay. You also will not be able to build an estate for your children ( a house, insurance policy, & any cash, etc. ) as the govt. will take more than halfl of it upon your death.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous point about the kinda person we want to be. Well it seems to me there are far to many Americans that have the luxury of being liberal; like my old college professors with TENURE. They have no fear of losing their job so therefore than can "afford" to be liberal in their views. Nothing can be taken away from them in a down economy, they have job security or work for a teachers union in high school education that rewards poor performance as much as it does real performance. No one wants to talk about those facts. If you can manage to sit at home and pick up a check from the government through no effort than simply checking the mailbox then why on earth would you want to work for a living. Just like the the welfare state the liberals want to endorse by rewarding those in poverty for having additional children. Not educate them or provide with opportunity.
The only politcian that I am aware of whom required those receiving welfare checks to actaully work was Rudy Guiliani in NYC where recipients were required to provided part time services to the City in order to receive checks. Why not replicate that on the national level? Becauuse liberals like Pelosi, Reid and Obama will have nothing to do with it. In their view it is the responsibility of the successful to augment the plight of the unsuccessful.
Ie, spread the wealth so no one is left behind Obama says and yet he does not even approve of No Child left Behind in education and will reward unsuccessful schools with additional funding without any parameters set to gauge progress.

Anonymous said...

A supermajority in Washington could indeed be devastating to the educational system. Though the States and localities have the lions share of the power when it comes to studies, the Federal Government historically as the funding powers. Many teachers falsely believe that the more funding that can be acquired will equate to greater success and better education. This however has been proven not to be the case. Major cities like Detriot and others have funding that dwarfs smaller cities across the nation and the results are a disaster. Funding does not equal better test scores or greater graduation rates; people do. I f the money from the government were to be used on recruitment and training of teachers I would be more optimistic, but over half of the funding always goes to "administration" and elements in the non-educating arenas in support roles through school system bueracracy.

Anonymous said...

So I take it that his wife is supporting Obama? Did he give any reasons why she was voting for Obama as opposed to McCain?