Thursday, May 10, 2007

Education -- A New Definition of Freedom

I delivered the closing remarks yesterday at a truly remarkable national summit in Washington on our “dropout epidemic” in America.

They tell me they are going to put a video of the whole speech up on the ED in 08 Web site. If they do that, I encourage you to take the few minutes to watch it. It was only 10 or 12 minutes long, and I tried to summarize what the whole ED in 08 campaign is about.

While they work on the technical piece, I picked out these excerpts:

There is a fundamental issue that is going to drive this nation for the next 25 years. That is the quality of the education of our young and our adults.

It is simply a fact that you can’t solve the problem of health care unless you have an economy that is going to support the cost of that health care. And you certainly can’t have security in a nation unless you have a workforce capable of developing those mechanisms and conditions for security. And you certainly can’t find the science to help us on global warming unless we have an adequate education system.

Education is that key policy issue that is probably more important than any other when you are looking at a nation examining what its fundamental values are and how we put those values in action.


There have been moments in our history when we really answered a clarion call. … It is time now for another clarion call. We need to find a voice in this nation that can begin to express our more fundamental values. …

It is essentially a question of freedom. … I value the freedom of this nation. But let’s define it. Freedom is a condition in which you are able to make choices about your life and express yourself. Now look, in the life we live today, you can’t make choices of freedom without being literate, without being educated and without being able to handle the mass of information that comes your way …

As I look in the eyes of those youngsters, what they’re asking of us as a nation, “Give us the opportunity to be great as this nation wants us to be great; give us the opportunity to be productive so we can continue to support the Social Security system that you’ve set up; give us the opportunity to understand each other and the history and the language of other people so that we can finally find a way to live at peace in this world.”

That is a new definition of freedom. Education is truly a civil right. …

You can join in this. We are looking for up to 1 million people to be active, pushy, thinking participants in this campaign throughout America. We want to make this presidential campaign that moment in America in which we come to terms with -- Are we really acting out our values? And are we investing in the things that need to be done to make this nation great? …

These are the fundamental questions of a presidential campaign, and they are the fundamental questions of our future in education. …

Let’s don’t have any more presidential debates in which education is not even mentioned. We deserve better than that in America. And you can make that happen. Come join us. The day is ours.

1 Comment

I have been following this campaign since it started a couple of weeks ago, along with reading the blog. I continue to be amazed at some of the negative comments I read either in the national press, or in comments on your blog. As an educator for the last 12 years, both in public and private schools, and as an aspiring administrator and educational change leader, I wanted to let you know that I fully support your goals.

I recognize there is room for debate. But as I said in my blog recently, politics is about compromise, and that only comes through debate. I , too, hope that education as an issue does not get swept under carpet of national, partisan, politics in the upcoming presidential campaign. I am eager to see candidates offer their perspectives on the state of the U.S. educational system, as well as their proposals for improving it. Having spent the last year and a half living and working in a foreign educational system in Asia, I can see quite clearly how U.S. students are falling behind. Not only this, but many students are never even given a chance in many U.S. schools. My family and I will be returning to the States in a few weeks and I look forward to doing my part in supporting this campaign. Thanks for you hard work! Keep it up!

Posted by Adam Dube (Email) at 5/11/2007 8:04:58 AM

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