Thursday, May 27, 2010

On the Suspension of Two Teachers and Atheism in the Classroom

This week, two high school teachers in South Florida were suspended from their classrooms pending investigation. Another teacher who had preached atheist beliefs to their students claimed that she had been “sprinkled with holy water” in reaction to her preaching. Several students who were witness to the events deny that any physical contact took place and stated that the only mention of “holy water” was done in a mocking context, in response to the atheistic teacher’s over the top rhetoric. The atheistic teacher knew that the mere allegation of impropriety would be enough to suspend the involved teachers and this seems to be the reason for her complaint.

We see yet again where the left fights to silence all opposing viewpoints. In this case, we see yet again how they will break their own supposedly heartfelt standards on public speech to suit their agenda. The same people who cry and scream indignation at the mere mention of God in any public forum, all the more so in a public school, freely go about their attempts to indoctrinate students in accordance with their notions of God and religion.

Atheists as a whole have gone to great lengths of silence any mention of God or religion in the classroom. It should follow suit that indoctrination of atheistic beliefs should certainly not be allowed, according to the very arguments that they relentlessly have put forward. The actions of the atheist teacher, who openly admits to using her position to preach her beliefs and to commit (anti-) religious indoctrination, are shockingly hypocritical and wrong on the face of it. The School Board’s decision, and that of Superintendent Jim Notter, to punish two teachers who personally hold religious believes, based on seemingly fallacious allegations, while at the same time giving a complete pass to a teacher who has openly admitted to indoctrinating students, is nothing short of shameful on the part of the school board.

The double standard is all the more outrageous when one considers that the Judeo-Christian values that the left is so intent on suppressing stand at the very core of America’s founding principles. Throughout our history as a nation, until 55 years ago, no court in the land would have seen the teaching of these as anything other than the teaching of a doctrine that has been at the root of each and every healthy society for over 3,000 years. No such argument can be made with regard to the teaching of atheism.

Moreover, sheer logic unequivocally disproves the fallacy of atheism. For a single life cell to be formed, complex RNA must develop on its own, as must DNA. It would take trillions of coincidences for either of these strands to form without a conscious Creator and it’s even more improbable for the two to join together randomly. And that’s just with regard to a single life cell. For even the simplest of plants to be formed, a series of one in a trillion coincides would have to take place in perfect sequence, one after another. The orbit of the planets would have to exact itself on its own (something that’s impossible for inanimate objects to do). Even then, the chances of random objects not crashing into the planets in a way to knock them off their orbit is nil without a conscious Creator. One can go on and on and as one does so, the fallacy of atheism becomes all the more ridiculous. In fact, it would make infinitely more sense to say that an entire set of Encyclopedia Britannicas wrote themselves as the result of some ink spill than it would to say that a life sustaining universe came to being in and of itself.

Many atheists know this and, when challenged, the militant among them go into histrionics and play games to twist their arguments. It is not the first time that agenda driven radicals have falsely accused people of faith or made up allegations in order to bolster their agenda. Without resorting to tricks and character assassinations, the fallacy of their doctrine becomes all too apparent. The fact that students who were present at the time of the confrontation confirm that the “sprinkling of holy water” never happened should speak for itself.

Both Leslie Rainer and Djuna Robinson are prime examples of what every teacher should be. Upon graduating college, they both returned to their alma mater, where they’ve taught with devotion, caring and excellence for the past 20 years. They deserve better than to be removed from their classrooms based on mere hearsay.

Jim Notter should be ashamed of himself for allowing this to transpire, as should the entrenched members of the school board who are refusing to take a stand on this matter of clear cut injustice. Their behavior is all the more appalling when we take into account that in many parts of Broward, only 4% of public school students go on to complete college. Many Broward students suffer with second rate curriculums and a lack of educational resources and motivation. Yet those whose job it is to fight for higher educational standards, for less red tape and for the recruitment of better teachers have instead chosen to spend their time playing politics by punishing dissenters to hypocritical indoctrination.

The school board’s resources can be better used than by conducting what is nothing more than a witch hunt against two fine teachers who have dedicated their careers to helping students. Jim Notter owes an apology to Leslie Rainer and Djuna Robinson and to their students over this incident. The teachers should immediately be reinstated.

If teaching is the only job in which one can be suspended based entirely on highly dubious allegations, then it is understandable why finding competent teachers for the public school system is as hard a task as it is. It is the duty of anyone who wishes to change this reality to speak out about this matte and this is especially true of candidates seeking to improve educational standards throughout the state.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lessons from Arlen Specter and Charlie Crist

One thing that people on both sides of the political debate can agree on is the need for sincerity in public service. The staunchest advocate of one philosophy respects the integrity and forthrightness of those who sincerely advocate for a contrasting point of view, if only they do so without a side agenda.
In today’s climate, the most able politician is politically inept if he or she does not possess a sincere and well thought out viewpoint. That is a good thing and a new reality that is long overdue in coming.

The cases of Arlen Specter and Charlie Crist prove this point. Both saw their political careers wane for two separate reasons. Specter’s was due to the perception of opportunism and Crist’s is due to the reality of same.

Specifically, Arlen Specter has always presented himself as a liberal Republican. He wasn’t arrogant about it and while he voted according to his own viewpoint, one that often seemed not to be clearly thought out and that was based on emotion or acquiescence to conventional “wisdom,” he did so without foisting his opinions on others or trying to liberalize his party.

Specter’s walk across the aisle was belated and came twenty or thirty years too late. Just as moderates in the Democratic Party started crossing the aisle in the early 90s, Arlen Specter should have done a reverse crossover. Switching parties is hard, but it should be done out of fairness to voters if a politician’s worldview is so out of touch with the mainstream of his party so as to warrant it. Had Specter followed such a course twenty years ago, he might still be in the running today.

Charlie Crist is a different story. When he first ran for governor, his ads featured him as “the true Reagan Republican.” This slogan was seen as a joke by those who were politically astute, a perception that was further belied by Crist’s condescending attacks on primary opponent Tom Gallagher’s sincerely held socially conservative beliefs during the gubernatorial debates.

Charlie Crist was on all sides of each issue. He would say that he was a “pro-life” Republican but then said that he would not take any measures were Roe v. Wade to be overturned (with the effect of keeping all abortions legal in the State of Florida, including those done merely for post-contraceptive reasons). What both proponents and opponents of legalized abortion agree on is that they don’t want to be lied to by politicians on where they stand on either side of the issue. Triangulation may have seemed to be in Charlie’s immediate interest. In the end, it was his undoing.

Charlie’s liberalism wasn’t lost on close watchers of the race. Friends of mine in local media happily told me, “I’m a Democrat but I’m voting for Charlie Crist.” In return, I was tempted to tell them that for perhaps the first time ever I’d like to personally encourage them to vote for someone in their own party instead.

If a candidate can’t be honest with voters on heartfelt issues of importance, the likelihood of them being honest on matters of the economy or the like is slim to none. And such was the case with Charlie Crist.

When Crist first announced his Senate bid (leading Marco Rubio 53-8 at the time), I spoke with someone who was not only well connected within the state Republican Party, but who I consider to be an honorable public servant whose political perceptions are better than most. He agreed with my supposition that Crist would have trouble in the primary, but contended that he’d have “no problem in the general.” I disagreed.

I pointed out that all that his Democrat challenger would have to do is to beat a drum that the so-called “People’s Governor” had campaigned on two promises: to cut property taxes and to slash homeowners insurance rates. Once elected, Crist passed an entirely insignificant cut on property taxes while failing to take other measures to bring meaningful relief. As far as insurance rates went, he actually upped rates twice, most recently by 10%. To the detriment of homeowners, no free market solutions (or those of any other kind) were ever introduced. Now Crist’s Republican opponent can and should have fun using the same playbook.

Most important of all, here’s the lesson that voters should take from the Charlie Crist debacle. If those who seek public office seem to rely on slogans instead of substance, don’t vote for them. If they seem to be pandering to every group imaginable, understand that the same people will accomplish nothing for anyone, nor do they have any interest in doing so.

If you can’t trust a politician as far as you can throw them, what’s the use in listening to anything that they say, especially when far better alternatives exist? Your vote is something that should be used to better the country and to send a message as to what form of government you want to see in place. Wasting it on blatant opportunists, no matter how much pomp and circumstance may surround them, benefits no one and is the reason why our governmental “leaders” are what they are today. The nation deserves better and each vote counts. So use it wisely.

There are plenty of junior Charlie Crists in the making. And there’s no greater disservice to the nation than to allow them to succeed. This year is truly the year of the grassroots and a year in which activism and the voice of the people can and will help change this nation and elect people of conscious. The importance of getting involved and of choosing principle above politics (and principled candidates with a track record of real community service and a compelling political philosophy) cannot be overstated.