Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ignorance About Our Government USA - Makes Us Slaves - “…lack of civics education in our nation's schools” Knowledge is power – Sandra Day O'connor - October 13, 2010 – PBS NEWSHOUR

Sandra Day O'Connor on Judicial Elections, Supreme Court's New Players, 
October 13, 2010  

SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR: I had become increasingly concerned in recent years about the lack of civics education in our nation's schools.

Now, we got public schools in this country to begin with because of the concern about the need to teach young people how to be good citizens, how our government works, so that everybody could participate. That was the selling point for public schools.

In recent years, the schools have stopped teaching it. And it's unfortunate. Half the states no longer make it a requirement to get out of high school, if you can believe it. And it's -- it's really a remarkable withdrawal from the very purpose we had originally for public schools.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what are you suggesting schools should do?

SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR: All right. So, solution. I thought maybe we should start a Web site that could be used in schools, free of charge, and feed it a bunch of games designed to teach young people who play them how our government works.

We started with the judicial branch, the third branch. I was very concerned at the time about the lack of knowledge about the third branch of government by members of Congress, not to mention schoolchildren. So we started there.

But it became apparent after a while that we could successfully teach that, but we should include the other two branches of government.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you know it works?

SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR: Well, because we have put these games online, and we have observed and tested young people by having them play the games. They love them. They're addictive. They just adore games.

And we then tested how much they have learned. And they learn incredible amounts. It is fabulous. That's the way young people today want to learn.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And how many schools are doing this, and how many schools do you want, ultimately?

SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR: I want every middle school in America to use this Web site. It's free of charge. It is sensational. And if they use it, the kids are going to come out knowing how our government works. And I think it's terribly important and workable.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And have you taken the test, the questions? How did you?

SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR: Oh, I have done a couple of games.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I assume you aced it.

SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR: Oh, heavens, no.

SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR: You know, it's just fun. And I'm very enthused about the potential for this country of using it. One of the problems, unintended, is No Child Left Behind. Our students in America were tested, along with those of 20 other nations of the world, prominent nations, and who came in at the bottom in math and science? We did.

The president and Congress were worried about that, as they should have been.


SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR: They devised a program to funnel some public money into schools based on test scores in math, science, and reading. And a school that tested adequately in those areas would get some federal money.

Now, they don't fund for history or civics. That's not part of the program. And because there's no federal money involved, many schools have opted not to teach them anymore and to work on the ones where they can get some money. And, so, that was unintended, but a consequence nonetheless.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, this is -- this is taking up a lot of your time and interest right now?

SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR: It certainly is. I think it's probably the most important thing that I could possibly be doing.
Read/listen complete interview:

Gay Marriage Surfaces As An Issue In State Races
by The Associated Press,
October 17, 2010 - NPR

New York
This election will be the first since the 1990s without a measure to ban gay marriage on any state ballot, yet the divisive issue is roiling races across the country during a time of tumult for the gay rights movement.

In Minnesota, New Hampshire, California and New York, gubernatorial campaigns have become battlegrounds for rival sides in the debate, with the Democratic candidates supporting same-sex marriage and the Republicans opposed.

In Iowa, voters will decide whether to oust three state Supreme Court justices who joined last year's unanimous decision making the state one of five where gay marriage is legal.

And in Rhode Island and California, Democratic candidates are seeking to become the fourth and fifth openly gay members of Congress. The Californian, Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet, has a husband and 4-year-old twins, and would be Congress' first openly gay parent.

The races are unfolding on a rapidly shifting gay rights landscape, with activists elated by important court rulings, irked at setbacks in Washington and jolted by high-profile cases of anti-gay violence and bullying-provoked suicides.
Read more:

Same-sex marriage is a fundamental right
by Menachem Z. Rosensaft,
Cornell Law School, October 14, 2010
The Washington Post

New York Republican gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino is far from alone in his bluntly stated opposition to same-sex marriage. Pope Benedict XVI recently reiterated the Vatican's uncompromising stance on this controversial topic: "The Church cannot approve of legislative initiatives that involve a re-evaluation of alternative models of married life and family," he said. "They contribute to the weakening of the principles of natural law and ... also to confusion about society's values." Along the same lines, Rabbi Noson Leiter, executive director of the ultra-Orthodox Torah Jews for Decency, has declared somewhat incongruously that "gay marriage poses an existentialist threat to religious liberty."

Regardless of anyone's religious or moral views on homosexuality, a review of the historical bidding seems to be in order. Not all that long ago, Americans also opposed marriages between Whites and African-Americans by a wide margin. In 1912, Rep. Seaborn Roddenberry, Democrat of Georgia, sponsored a constitutional amendment to prohibit interracial marriages on the ground that "intermarriage between whites and blacks is repulsive and averse to every sentiment of pure American spirit. It is abhorrent and repugnant."

…While the statistics may be interesting from a sociological perspective, we must not allow our constitutional rights to be determined by Gallup polls or popular referenda. Does anyone doubt that a majority of the good people of Virginia might well have voted to retain the ban on interracial marriage in 1967? Should the Supreme Court have deferred to prejudices that, I suspect, even most of the opponents of same-sex marriage find despicable today?

And what about the invidious 1935 Nuremberg Laws that criminalized both marriages and extramarital intercourse between Jews and Aryans in Nazi Germany? Does the fact that most Germans had no problem with this legislation make it any less reprehensible?

We must never lose sight of the fact that divisive rhetoric and demagoguery have consequences. The delegitimization or demonization of any group threatens our society as a whole. Any muddying of the separation of church and state encroaches on the religious liberty now enjoyed by all Americans. Unlike most European countries, the United States has never had an established church or religion, and most Americans like it that way just fine. "The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate," wrote James Madison in 1785 in his Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments.

Generations of immigrants, my parents and I among them, came to these shores "yearning to breathe free," and Emma Lazarus' poem engraved on the Statue of Liberty does not bestow this privilege exclusively on those of "your tired, your poor, your huddled masses" who happen to be heterosexual.
Read complete article: by Menachem Z. Rosensaft is Adjunct Professor of Law at Cornell Law School and Distinguished Visiting Lecturer at the Syracuse University College of Law.

[Unsubstantiated] --- RELIGIOUS BELIEFS that gay and lesbian relationships are SINFUL or INFERIOR to heterosexual relationships
HARM gays and lesbians.
Judge Vaughn Walker Ruling
California Prop 8. August 4, 2010

On Prop 8, it's the evidence, stupid
By Lisa Bloom
and related links:

California Prop 8, Aug, 4, 2010 - Deep misunderstanding - 
"We the People" 
means - US Constitution – DANGERS of majority rule - a reflection of prejudice, intolerance, ignorance, panic and crude self-interest…
by Geoffrey R. Stone - Chicago Tribune
The framers of our Constitution fully recognized the dangers as well as the strengths of majority rule. They understood that THE MAJORITY will sometimes act in ways that are not truly public-regarding, but are instead a reflection of prejudice, intolerance, ignorance, panic and crude self-interest. A profound puzzle the framers encountered was how to deal with this danger…

Bittersweet victories for gay rights advocates 
By Sandhya Somashekhar, 
October 17, 2010 
The Washington Post

It has been a groundbreaking year for gay rights advocates, who have won a series of courtroom victories on issues including same-sex marriage and adoption. Last week, a judge ordered the government to end its "don't ask, don't tell" policy barring gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

But several recent incidents point to a harsher reality on the ground. At least five teens across the country have taken their own lives after allegedly being taunted as gay. Authorities in New York have recently arrested 10 people in the Bronx in connection with brutal assaults on two teens and an adult who police say were tortured for being gay. And Carl P. Paladino, the Republican candidate for governor of New York,grabbed headlines for saying that children should not be "brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option."

The incidents have sparked outrage from gay rights advocates, who say they are evidence that much work is left to do despite the movement's significant and rapid progress.

"It's a very odd moment, because there's all of these horrific things happening, and they are happening at a moment when we're making faster progress than, I think, ever before," said Kevin Cathcart, executive director of Lambda Legal, an advocacy group.
Read more:

maybe, there will exist 
well considered 
yet fervent public conviction 
that the
most deadly of all possible
is the mutilation of
child’s spirit.”

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