I must have Ronald Reagan on the brain recently. When I wrote about Elizabeth Edwards meeting with Bloggers in New Hampshire, I borrowed his line “Tear down this wall.” This post borrows from Ronald Reagan’s famous advertisement, “It’s morning in America”.
While I strongly disliked Ronald Reagan for many of his policies, I did admire his ability to communicate, and I’ve longed for better communicators and communications on the current political landscape.
Four years ago, we sent out Holiday Cards with a picture of Governor Dean, holding our daughter Fiona, who was about two years old at the time. Our greeting said
In this Holiday season, Let us all work together to help Hope, Joy, and Prosperity
Triumph over Fear and Oppression.
I love the politics of hope. It is what has made America strong. It is what Reagan touched on in his famous “Morning in American” advertisement. It is something Barack Obama symbolizes for many of my friends, and I love the “Got Hope?” bumpersticker.
Today, I got an email about the new John Edwards Thanksgiving advertisement that is going up. It captures the hope and the American Spirit better than any advertisement I’ve seen in a long time. Please, stop by and check it out at
http://www.johnedwards.com/watch/thanksgiving/. Even if you are supporting a different Democrat right now, stop by and watch the ad. It captures what is so important to me about being a Democrat and being an American.
(cross posted at DailyKos)
This morning, L&L Bank and Trust (LNL) in Second Life, announced that their ATMs had been hacked. Maelstrom Baphomet wrote a heated blog post about the topic. Later, he wrote detailing reports of various banks hit by the hacking.
Last night, at 10:37 PM, I finished the first draft of my novel for National Novel Writing month. When I got close, I started getting cranky. I was so close. If I could just get time to write, without interruption, I would be done. Yet it was the weekend. We were on the road doing politics and visiting relatives. I stole an hour here and an hour there. When we got home last night, I was tired and feeling a little sick, but I powered through and finished my first write through.
As it stands right now, it is 50,544 words long. It is desperate need of editing. I suspect the editing will lengthen it a bit more as I add in descriptions and background that didn’t make it in the rush of the first write through.
Today, Fiona is home sick from school and I’m dragging. I have emails to get through and a few technology tasks. I will probably take it easy today, and start editing tomorrow, unless the call of the novel becomes overpowering.
This morning, Elizabeth Edwards spoke with a bunch of bloggers at St. Anselm College in Manchester, NH. I’ve just gotten back to Connecticut after driving up for the event. I hope to write a detailed report of the event later. However, she spent a bit of time answering a question that I asked her and I want to focus on that in particular.
I read a lot of blogs, especially those beyond the progressive political blogosphere. One great community of bloggers are the homeschooling bloggers. Various news reports that I’ve read of the Edwards campaign say that Elizabeth is homeschooling her two youngest children on the campaign trail. I wanted to hear what she had to say about it and what she and John were learning about education, should he become president.
My regular readers will know that I am an Edwards supporter. While my question wasn’t planted, it was a softball question that I hoped she would be able to hit out of the park. She did an even better job than I had hoped for.
She started off by talking about how in the fourth grade, students in North Carolina study their state history. She took her kids out to Roanoke Island where they camped and woke up to the sort of morning the early settlers would have faced. Now, when they think about the early settlers, they can visualize what it might have been like. They call draw on their own experiences. It was her first comment of many that emphasized an important theme, taking away the walls of the school and expanded the student’s world. It has changed the way they think about learning.
She went on to speak about traipsing through the woods with her children, gathering leaves, making moulds of animal footprints, and even observing the decomposition of a dead beaver. She spoke about categorizing the information gathered, and returned to the idea of real life questions you don’t get in school and getting kids to experience learning beyond the confines of the traditional schools.
She acknowledged that the Edwards family was well off and could provide these sorts of experiences for their children and talked about the need for public schools to do more to provide these sorts of experiences. She noted that you don’t really have to travel far for such experiences, they can be found in your own backyard. As I listened to Elizabeth, I thought of many great teachers I had met who had done exactly this.
She talked about visiting a model of the solar system in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, where Pluto, which was still considered a planet when the model was built, was a mile away from the school, and really helped illustrate the scope and scale of the solar system.
She talked about seeing more of America than just Disney World, or even the standard stops like the Freedom Trail in Boston and Washington DC. She spoke about seeing the great variety of American landscapes and the great diversity of American communities.
Few of us will ever get a chance to provide the great educational opportunities that Elizabeth and John are providing for their children. They are approaching it in a well thought out manner, one that all of us who are so concerned about education should be paying attention to with a focus on getting their children to recognize that learning can take place beyond the boundaries of a school and with the aid of materials beyond just books.
In later comments, she addressed the question of No Child Left Behind and noted that probably every woman in the room understood that “one size fits all” just doesn’t work. The comment received the laughter it deserved, but it also illustrated one of the many fundamental flaws with No Child Left Behind. Not only is “one size fits all” the wrong way to assess how a school is doing, it is also the wrong way to try and fix things in a school that is under performing.
Elizabeth spoke about the importance of Federal funding for school building projects. Yet she also recognizes the walls that programs like No Child Left Behind put between children and their education. She recognizes the wall that too many of us put up, compartmentalizing education to something that happens only in a classroom. She recognizes the value getting people to appreciate the diversity that makes our country great. In many ways, it seemed like what she was saying to Margaret Spellings, to the defenders and implementers of Bush’s failed educational policies, and to everyone who limits the education in our public schools, “Tear down these walls.”
No blog entry about a campaign event would be complete without Fiona getting in on the action, so here is a picture of Kim and Fiona with Elizabeth Edwards.
(Cross-posted at Daily Kos)