Commentary: Demanding accountability

Published on Online Journal, by LynMarie Berntson, Nov. 11, 2010.

Accountability. In education the media, hand-in-hand with our elected politicians, act as sprightly cheerleaders, daily rallying Americans to hold teachers accountable. Demand that AYP (annual yearly progress) is demonstrated! Fire teachers of children who do not test well! The stay-on message memo? Teachers are public enemy #1. And as if by donning dark, protective eyewear, we remain passively receptive to the heat turned up on educators, comfortable with corporate controlled “news,” shielded from the glare of disquieting reality … //

… Our children are watching. Given current implementation of America’s top down education system, what do children observe of accountability at the very top? Well, let’s just ask, “Is our children learning?” You betcha. G.W. Bush, President of the United States, implacably incurious and thus, willfully negligent, a “C” student at best, a cocaine user, frat boy boozer, a person meticulously branded and well staged for public presentation (and particularly notable for costumed appearances such as his performance in a military flak jacket, swaggering to effect the illusion of masculinity and power) sets an example. 

President Obama, another product of an exclusive ivy-league education, an articulate leader, polished and poised, admittedly a cocaine and marijuana user in his “youthful indiscretion” phase, and now proven safe-keeper of Empire and Commander in Chief of the surge and drone death delivery models, continues as the example. Despite campaign promises otherwise, Mr. Obama doggedly pursues military madness, robbing a nation of its resources for education of its youth and for the general well being of its citizens. As Einstein stated, “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.”

Our children are watching, and wherever they look, America’s failed accountability record is hauntingly evident. We’ve allowed a culture of impunity, disregarding the true costs of war. Pentagon accountability? Billions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars are lost in Iraq. Recent revelations indicate culpability for torture, contractor abuses, and massive civilian killings. Our Pentagon’s war crimes, its use of Depleted Uranium weapons, register a lethal legacy for entire populaces, as well as for our own U.S. service people. Neurological disorders and a constellation of symptoms are loosely gathered under the rubric “Gulf War Illnesses,” along with documentation of accelerating rates of cancer, birth defects and deformities, infant deaths. D.U. munitions, the uranium with a half-life of 4.5 billion years, spell ecological nightmare. Poison DUst comes back on all of us. The military we entrust to protect us apparently has an annihilation forever strategy. Next, a review of BP accountability: Ongoing environmental catastrophe records intact, deathly dispersants now cause life-threatening illnesses and kill various life forms indiscriminately. And what about our overall environmental accountability? Our earth is edging toward the precipice, poised for environmental collapse; the overwhelming majority of world scientists attribute global climate change to human activity. Meanwhile, Americans advocate for our children to compete well internationally in math and science, yet give credence to big industry’s puppets, highly paid ideological talk show hosts spewing disinformation, denying scientific evidence. Gullibility score Americans: A+. Scientific understanding: F. Responsibility: F. Comments: Unconscionable behavior, dire consequences forthcoming.

If America were truly interested in demanding accountability, it would begin with all of us as serving as models for our children. Not heaping sole responsibility upon teachers or “failing schools” for mere, narrow measurements of learning as indicated by our myopic hyperfocus on test scores. No, if America were to exact accountability, our children would witness immediacy of action similar to the efforts of those creatively and responsively problem solving to save the crew of Apollo 13. Planet Earth has no lifeboat. Our children’s future is at stake. Filling in test bubbles, even obtaining exemplary scores within the restrictive confines of today’s educational system, is no safeguard for any future.

Accountability? We might yet pay attention in the classroom of life, work hard to sort out truth and wisdom in this Information-rich Age, and heed Jane Addam’s counsel, “America’s future will be determined by the home and the school. The child becomes largely what (s)/he is taught; hence we must watch what we teach, and how we live.” (full text and all links).

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