Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Climate Change Really Is The Biggest Threat To Our National Security

Read the following headlines from yesterday's Wall Street Journal:

“Children Don’t Have Constitutional Right to Switch Schools, Appeals Court Rules” 

and this one...

"Obama Calls for U.S. to Show Leadership in Fighting Climate Change"

The first headline precedes a story about a small, impoverished county in Arkansas where parents have been unsuccessfully waging a war to gain the right to move their children from their failing public schools to public schools in other districts that are performing at a higher level.

Sounds like a plan right? Nope. Here’s what the court concluded, according to the article:

“...Courts have said parents can’t be denied the right to choose to enroll their children in private schools. But those rulings don’t apply to parents seeking to move their kids within the public system, the appeals court said. The opinion, written by Judge Lavenski R. Smith, said there was no precedent that supported the position that a parent’s ability to choose where his or her child is educated within the public school system is a fundamental right or liberty.” 

As it is revealed later in the article, the Blytheville (Arkansas) school district is still:

“...subject to a 1971 federal mandate requiring racial balance to remedy past discrimination, and said that, as a policy, no transfers were allowed into or out of the district, regardless of the applicant’s race.”

So, even though the state has officially categorized the middle and high school in the district as being “academically distressed", families are prohibited from seeking a better alternative because it would create a racial imbalance at the school. If you’re scratching your head right now, I hope it’s because it itches and not because you’re trying to make sense of that last statement.

We all know that academic distress eventually leads to economic distress for individuals. And we know that there are kids stuck in academically distressed schools all over the country.

So what could we do about it? Lots. What are we doing about it? Nothing.

And that brings me to the second headline from above. In that article, President Obama is quoted as saying the following in a speech in Alaska on Monday: 

“I am here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country,” 

He went on to say that

“Leaders who don’t take this issue seriously aren’t fit to lead.” 

Hmm.  What about those leaders who don't take seriously parents yearning for their children's rights to leave demonstrably failing schools for ones that give them a chance at a good education.  Are they fit?

Anyway, what did the President do about climate change at the Monday’s gathering? Well, he promised to "make sure America’s leadership continues to drive international action."  Are you scratching again? 

I’m not.  I actually agree with the President that climate change is the biggest issue of our times. I just disagree on the type of climate change. It’s not the often-spoken-of terrestrial climate change that concerns me. You know, the kind that will supposedly lead to rising sea levels, multiplying forest fires, disappearing glaciers, receding coastlines, and the extinction of animals.  It’s the political climate change that seems to me to be the most menacing and dire threat to our way of life. That changing political climate appears to have hardened our resolve against talking seriously about and then clinically addressing the issues plaguing our public schools. It has lead seemingly serious politicians to propose free college as a solution to skyrocketing college costs. It has lead to a spectacularly flawed Iran deal being all but assured of becoming law in September. It has lead to a situation where at least half of America seems to have blindly accepted (terrestrial) climate change as the number one issue needing our attention despite the constant barrage of news about the markets, the economy, debt, and jobs. And, most tellingly, it has given life and weight to the presidential candidacy of a man who, in a less noxious political climate, would have been laughed off the stage and out of the race during his declaration speech.

Oh, I almost forgot about the other thing President Obama did as a symbolic (and political climate friendly) gesture to native Alaskans on Monday. He changed the name of Mt. McKinley to Mt. Denali, apparently in accordance with the desire of the majority of the people from the Land of the Midnight Sun.

The Mountain formerly known as McKinley

I say great, who cares, whatever. Change it again next week if the people of Alaska want to.

But there’s another mountain, one of far more importance, that is in need of a moniker. It’s massive and it's situated between the vast majority of America’s young people and a quality education. An education that, if properly re-conceived and administered, would prepare them to be immediately productive entrepreneurs, employees, and citizens. It’s going to be hard, if not impossible for many of them to scale that mountain though because of the harsh conditions attending the current political climate.

Perhaps we should call it Mt. Neverest, at least until another name becomes more appropriate.


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