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The Spanish word for “hold hostage” is SECUESTRAR – The sequester is holding hostage all those who are about to get hit by the across-the-board meat ax. And these across-the-board automatic cuts fall heavily on the heads of little children who are being held hostage in this political standoff.
I was talking to a radio host yesterday who assured me that the hostage-takers in Congress would inevitably have to blink. He said, “Once the massive layoffs begin in the Department of Defense and cancer researchers in the Centers for Disease Control and inspectors who make sure our food and air and medicine are safe… well, they won’t let that happen.”
Oh, won’t they.
I’ve lost my faith, you see, in this Congress. Yes, there are good people and smart people and patriotic people amongst the members of Congress. But as a whole, as an institution, they function on a par with drunken idiots behind the wheel of a car careening off a fiscal cliff. And I mean no disrespect to drunken idiots. (more…)
Norma de la Rosa didn’t sleep the night before because she was afraid. Norma is the president of the El Paso Teachers Association and she’s not afraid of much. Not politicians or reporters or giving speeches before hundreds of people, but she was about to do something no one in El Paso had done before. She had invited the entire community to come to what is being called their Ground Zero. She was afraid that no one would come.
Ground Zero is what we call the pit left after an explosion. After an attack. Bowie High School was Ground Zero for hundreds of students whose futures were attacked. The students at Bowie are smart, energetic teenagers with as much right to a future as anyone else’s kids. The school is located along the border. You can throw a rock and hit Mexico. There is a high poverty rate among families. High unemployment. Many students are English Language Learners. These boys and girls need an excellent education to meet the challenges that are part of their lives.
We are struggling to make sense of the senseless violence in an elementary school in Connecticut. Good people all over the world are thinking about how to prevent another tragedy and coming to very different conclusions. A friend, a devoted father, said he’d been thinking. “So, what’s wrong with just arming a few teachers in every school? When bad guys know there’re guns around, they stay away. I’ve got lots of guns in my home. My house is the safest place on the block.”
I took a deep breath. I reminded him the “bad guy” in Connecticut wasn’t a burglar. He was a crazy person with a death wish. I reminded him that tragedies like Connecticut were amazingly rare in a school, but what was amazingly common in a school were situations of kids fighting and angry parents chewing out a teacher for a kid’s not making the team or even students confronting a teacher with threats.
How would schools be safer with a few teachers facing those everyday, stressful, sometimes volatile situations with a loaded gun? I reminded him that the Army’s response to the horrific shootings at Ft. Hood (where, one might argue, the problem was not having too few armed weapons experts in close proximity) was not to place a soldier with an assault rifle in every hospital waiting room, the PX, the commissary, and the library. If the generals at Ft. Hood didn’t believe that was the answer, why should a school board?