Siege, Simplicity, and Superheroes

The education front in our country and states can be best described as “under siege”! Our incompetent Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, continues to undermine the general educational realm by making, or trying to make, unpopular, unjust, and unwanted decisions impacting teachers, students, and school districts. Although federally-funded voucher schemes, proposed by Donald Trump and DeVos, did not receive the go-ahead in next year’s budget, many states have, themselves, adopted into their new fiscal budgets, provisions for these charter schools to exist on a minimal level. In Illinois, for example, is currently about to fund a 5-year, temporary voucher plan, largely under the strong impetus of the private Catholic schools. Of course, it will be interesting to see just how many rules and regulations these schools actually choose to enact, leading to little or much transparency necessary. Included in that area is ESSA and its implementation. Illinois has officially now met the ESSA standards, and all school districts and its schools therein, and must abide by these standards. It is incumbent upon districts in Illinois to now apprise themselves of the entire ESSA program.

In September of this year, Donald Trump announced the “end” of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which had been implemented by President Obama in 2012. Nearly 800,000 young people have been able to attend college and pursue their dreams (hence, the name DREAMERS) in the country they have called home for most of their lives. As one 19 year-old sophomore at Duke
University, and in the U.S. since age 7, said. “I can remember the name of every United States president, but have no idea who the president of Honduras (his home country) is. This is an American Citizen! DACA recipients (whether documented, or not) deserve our advocating for its preservation, not deportation. DREAMERS are major contributors to our economy and society who absolutely honor their citizenship in this country. No other wealthy, non-communist country accepts or displays such discrimination.What America needs are relatable superheroes for kids to emulate and admire. Certainly, the majority of our politicians do not qualify. Simply put, it is up to us….parents, educators and citizens in general to step up to the plate!

I recently read a wonderful interview with Dav Pilkey, creator of the wildly popular CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS comic series and books for children. Both are simply written about two unlikely Superheroes….usually, by mistake! CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS has downright superpowers to be utilized when a crisis arises. And, as with most superheroes, when times get tough, they (and, we) must all dig to find our very own super powers. These may develop in many ways…..becoming better at what we do; promote/resist political agendas; or, simply try harder to be the best human beings we can be – superheroes! And, it doesn’t matter if we end up making mistakes – what matters is that we should always try to improve and grow.

Previously, I spoke of DACA and honored citizenship. As with any gift of this magnitude, putting yourself before others is necessary. But, empathy does not come naturally. Like any skill, the more practiced, the better you become. It is this sort of compassion our teachers, parents, and politicians must strive for.

Often, that superpower of extreme empathy often results in the risking of lives to protect others because it the right thing to do. It requires digging deeply within ourselves. In a society of conflicting messages to our young people, CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS carries a simple notion of learning how to become those unlikely superheroes by digging down deeply in search of those skills to awaken our own superpowers, using every resource to deal problems head-on. Reaching goals, fighting the good fight, and understanding our fellow human beings in fearless ways is attainable! Students, immigrants struggling for citizenship, educators, and parents need to see superheroes in our midst and the unimaginable rewards to be earned.

Sources used as resources:

-neaToday, June 6, 2017

-neaToday, Oct.3, 2017

-neaToday, Oct. 11, 2017

Submitted by: Sandy Hill, chair of the Education Committee