Is time really on our side

Friday, February 27, 2015

(Editor's Note: This is the fifth installment of a series of articles on education)

Fifty years ago last September, the Rolling Stones released one of their all time greatest singles, "Time Is on My Side." Recently, there are questionable ideas and plans being proffered at all levels of government in our country regarding education. Fortunately, like the title of that great old rock and roll song, we may still have time to prevent much of this from happening.

In a recent Supreme Court decision, by a narrow margin of 5-4, years of rules regarding campaign financing, were declared unconstitutional. I for one don't agree with this decision, and I fully expect it to be changed in the future. Regardless of the final outcome, those of us who fear the consequences of this decision, cannot be faint of heart.

If all you want to do is whine and moan about how unfair things are, then you are not who we need in this fight. Complaining is like just about anything else in life, "a little of it goes a long way!"

When our forefathers decided to rebel against their English rulers, they certainly didn't have much going in their favor. What they did have was each other, and a will to organize and fight for what they thought was right.

Currently all over America, there are huge political action committees, that are spending millions of dollars to try and get their style of government to be in charge. We have all heard about several of these groups and individual donors. To many, this overwhelming volume of cash appears to create power bases that seem impregnable.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and in our history, most Americans are very distrustful of government for hire. Unfortunately, it takes more than distrust to fight back against big money.

If we want to send a message about education to Jefferson City, it will require some old fashioned hard work. We have several ways to organize and take on big money, but again, the complaining time is over.

In 1939, America was inspired by one of the greatest political movies of all time, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." Most Americans only wish we had that type of grass roots style once again in our country. In the movie, the big money group used every trick in the book, but alas, as with any good storybook ending, the little guys won out in the end.

We don't have a movie script available this time, so it is up to us to take on these PACs, who want to make so many changes in our schools. To organize this fight, we need to have several groups step up to the plate.

The first of these groups is the educational community. This includes teachers, retired teachers, administrators, and school boards. As I wrote in an earlier column, you have a tremendous voice and message to offer, but you cannot sit back and wait.

You teachers of today and you retired teachers have created bonds with students and families that will last a lifetime. If you want to do your part to combat the big money players, you must use that trust. Every time you see one of your former students or their relatives, stop and "press the flesh." Let them know the issues that are at stake in Jefferson City. If you are afraid to go out and voice your ideas, the battle is lost before it begins.

School boards and administrators must also do their part. In the November election, Amendment No. 3 was soundly defeated by a margin of about 70-30 percent. Most of the school boards all over the state, stood up and voted proclamations in opposition to the amendment. If you want to save our schools from this government intrusion and intervention, than you must be willing to follow, with the same types of declarations.

Here is a message to our school districts and boards. I know you fear taking stands like this. What you need to understand is that this is just the first in a series of massive changes this group of legislators want to initiate. You have no choice, if you want to stem the tide.

Perhaps the most important group I want to reach is the taxpayers and patrons of each school district, and the parents of the kids in our schools. This is your fight too, and if you don't think it is dangerous, take a look at what's happening in Kansas to their schools.

I've been using the word "fight" quite a bit in this article. To be honest, I would prefer, as I am sure many of you would as well, to avoid these battles. Unfortunately, I have seen no indication that there is any interest in listening to the local citizens, by these legislators.

Despite the overwhelming vote in November, the legislature is again considering the same types of proposals. We can choose to fight or fold our tents.

The battle against big money is difficult, but it can be won. We need to have involvement from every level of our citizenship. If you want to get involved, write letters and emails to your state representatives and state senators.

It's going to take a lot of people from every walk of life to win. Just remember, when it comes to voting in the future, take a few minutes to scrutinize the money trail. It will show who has bought countless hours of television commercials. Money is no object for them.

But time is on our side. We can work to get the message out, and most importantly, we enter that ballot booth, where we go in as free non-bribed voters. Citizens have the choice not to let their vote go to the highest bidder. As the next line in the song goes. "you'll come running back." Let's come running back and save our truly great schools.