Presidents Day Ramble
It is Presidents Day today, a holiday, sort of, except in Haines where we don't do national or state holidays at our school. Apparently they are optional in rural Alaska, but the radio station staff is taking the day off to honor Lincoln and Washington, and so they are playing a taped special on American presidents. I hope the students are listening to it at school, because LBJ is talking now, it is his Great Society speech. In it President Johnson declares that a great America needs revitalized cities, a clean environment, and an excellent public educational system. It is hard to listen to it nearly fifty years later when not much has changed for the better. At the same time, it gives me hope. Most people would agree with it today-- don't you think? And since at least one president felt this way, perhaps another one will?
"We have always prided ourselves on being not only America the strong and America the free, but America the beautiful. Today that beauty is in danger. The water we drink, the food we eat, the very air that we breathe, are threatened with pollution. Our parks are overcrowded, our seashores overburdened. Green fields and dense forests are disappearing. A few years ago we were greatly concerned about the "Ugly American." Today we must act to prevent an ugly America.
We must give every child a place to sit and a teacher to learn from. Poverty must not be a bar to learning, and learning must offer an escape from poverty.But more classrooms and more teachers are not enough. We must seek an educational system which grows in excellence as it grows in size. This means better training for our teachers. It means preparing youth to enjoy their hours of leisure as well as their hours of labor. It means exploring new techniques of teaching, to find new ways to stimulate the love of learning and the capacity for creation."
Only 10 percent of Americans polled recently believe congress is doing a good job. It's the lowest approval rating, ever. They have strayed far from the vision of that Great Society speech. I'm interested to hear what Senator Lisa Murkowski has to say about this. She'll be speaking in Haines tomorrow at the American Bald Eagle Foundation from 2-3:30. She'll also be visiting the school to check in on our community's most valuable natural resource. Hopefully the snow will stop falling, and we'll have another day like yesterday so she can be inspired by Alaska the beautiful to help make America at least as beautiful as LBJ imagined.