I can’t think of a more anticipated moment than President-elect Obama’s inauguration speech … I reread Lincoln’s Second Inaugural,
|… fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”||3|
|With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.|
and the First FDR Inaugural on March 4, 1933
This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.
and, of course, the JFK Inaugural on a bitterly cold January 20, 1961.
|Now the trumpet summons us again—not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are—but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation”—a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself…|
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.
Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza; the continent of Africa in turmoil and the world confronting a financial meltdown … some may see these issues as opportunities, others as insurmountable obstacles … we will be glued to our TV screens at midday of January 20th.
A year ago the Broad and Gates Foundations were talking of spending many millions to raise education to the top of the political agenda, now, a year later education is well down the list.
Governor Patterson barely mentioned educational initiatives in his January 7th State of the State speech and Mayor Bloomberg in his State of the City talk addressed jobs and the economy with a sparse education agenda.
In her January 17th New York Times column AFT/UFT President Randy Weingarten held out her hand to Obama and his Ed Secretary Arne Duncan and pleaded for local governments to protect public schools from pending devastating cuts.
Of all the words spoken and printed in last few days perhaps Frank Rich in his January 18th New York Times op-ed is the most prescient, nothing will change on January 20th … we, all of us, will have to be the change agents.
States and cities are facing obscene cuts, with a range of “impossible” choices; pension liabilities, deteriorating infrastructures, foreclosures, job losses, tumbling revenues and enduring inner city poverty.
Dropout rates in communities of poverty are staggering, and, faced with the current economic crisis we fear that education will stumble still further down the list of priorities.
Is the Duncan/Klein model the proper approach for inner city communities? or, does Richard Rothstein define the path for education?
I wonder whether Arne Duncan and Randi Weingarten can come together and support a common agenda? I wonder whether Duncan/Klein/Rhee will simply push ahead with their Educational Equality Project? and, I wonder where the new president will place education on his list of priorities?
We remember the rhetoric of Lincoln, FDR and JFK, and we eagerly await the words of our new president.
On Tuesday we will all be listening carefully.