A Few New Year’s Wishes
#1. President Obama is still our president, but you’d think he’s long gone the way Trump has been garnering all the headlines. I’d like Obama to take charge of newsprint once again in a bold way. Specifically, I’d like to see him declare a number of National Monuments, led by a minimum of a million acres of the Bears Ears in Utah, a large tract of scenic land that holds a high percentage of Anasazi dwellings, granaries, pictographs and petroglyphs. A new president cannot undo a designated national monument.
In addition I’d like to see Obama pardon hundreds, if not thousand, of prisoners incarcerated in federal prisons for extended periods due to possession or sale of marijuana (now legal in many states), and other drugs. Those pardoned cannot be put back in jail by a new president.
There may be other things that Obama can do in his last month-plus in office that Trump cannot undo. He should do every one of the things that would be helpful that Trump cannot undo. I don’t give a damn who gets pissed off about such moves; they would be good, they would be bold, they would be permanent. And they would take the limelight off the Dennis the Menace character who will soon be taking over.
If Obama thinks he’ll have some influence over Trump in the future by “playing nice,” he’s wrong. Trump will do whatever Trump will do…and judging by his announced advisors and cabinet members, none of it will be good. Combining that with his out-of-control personality and vindictiveness, we’re in for a real rough four years (assuming we can get through those years). So my first New Year’s wish is for Obama to do all the critical things he can do—which Trump cannot undo—in his remaining days in office.
#2. I think it would be great if Europe takes a cue from the recent election in Austria, and rejects the extreme right wing parties that appear to be gaining strength everywhere else (including the US, of course). We’re seeing France in the throes of a takeover from the right, at the end of a bumbling regime led by François Holland. Poland, Hungary and other eastern European countries have taken a sharp right turn already. Most of this political upheaval is in response to the immigration crisis that has hit Europe hard. People are scared, and the huge influx of immigrants is stoking their fears. Even Angela Merkel in Germany, who has been a bulwark of empathy toward people running away from their homeland in fear of their lives (plus some looking for better economic opportunities) is now seen to be in serious trouble for her upcoming re-election bid. I’d be thrilled if the far right is soundly defeated in upcoming elections, as happened in Austria last week. That’s my second New Year’s wish.
#3. After George W. Bush’s failed “No child’s left behind” (as opposed to their right behind), and Obama/Arne Duncan’s failed “Race to the top,” and many other failed educational approaches in the past, we’re about to enter the Trump/de Vos failure of putting public money into private (charter) schools. (By the way, de Vos has no educational experience, and never went to college, but she’s a billionaire, so she qualifies for Trump’s cabinet.) My New Year’s wish would be for everyone to come together in recognition of the fact that one thing—and one thing only—is the central crux of successful education: parental involvement. The moment we get educators and legislators to recognize that parental involvement is the key to student success, our educational system will improve. None of these other genius ideas concocted by either conservative or liberal educators end up giving us a better educational system. Parental involvement is the key. (By the way, every time I’ve talked to an actual educator, whether it was a teacher, a librarian or a school principle, and offered this concept, they have all agreed 100%.) So my third New Year’s wish is to get someone into a powerful educational position who recognizes parental involvement as the central issue toward improving our educational system, and would put his/her efforts into making that happen.
Have a great weekend,, Bruce