The Hijacking of Education in America

April 23, 2008

Education begins with respect.”   -J.K. Kamath, M.D.

I am certainly not a religious person, but I respect religion when it accomplishes its function in society: to make us better people and to help us to accept our role in the universe. Early on, I, like most of us, was taught that in the eyes of God, a day was like billions of years in the eyes of man. This freed us to believe that God created the Universe and its Laws, including “evolution.”

Some 45 years ago, I had the great pleasure of associating with the Abarbanel family. They had an 18th Century copy of a 15th Century book or manuscript written by Isaac Abarbanel, financial minister to Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. My grandfather had the honor of interpreting the old writing and showed me a passage that I will never forget.

In his book, Abarbanel said that the Hebrew phrase: “B’reshis barah Elohim, es ha shamayim v’es ha’aretz:” should be read: “In the beginning [God] created Nature (the laws of the Universe), the heavens and the earth. He claimed, some 500 years ago, just a few years before he chose to leave Spain with his expelled Jewish Community, that God first created the laws of nature, mathematics, evolution, all the subtle mechanisms that we see around us.

Subtlety, as my brother says, is a language not spoken here (I must plead guilty, myself), and certainly not in so many of our more remedial churches, mosques and synagogues across our land and worldwide.

Mr. Huckabee, for instance, whom I consider a delightful human being and great governor, hurt his true cause, I feel, by not acknowledging Abarbanel’s concept. On the other hand, John McCain, while not clearly articulating these ideas, certainly seemed to have no argument with the concept in the debates.

To many people, these issues seem frivolous. Atheists and agnostics will justifiably claim that the subjects are unimportant to them. I believe that, in a sense, they are right. If everyone believed, as they do and more importantly believed just as McCain and Huckabee and Obama and Clinton and most (I hope) of our national legislators probably do, that “goodness” and ethical behavior is inherently the best way to act, then the whole conflict between “church and state” would be a moot point.

The huge problem that we have in this country seems to be the disintegration and corruption of our educational system. True, Democrats would like to expend large sums of money in often vain attempts to improve education. Republicans, if given the opportunity, would usually do what President Bush has tried to do- waste educational funds on poorly planned foreign wars and subsidizing the Military Industrial World Complex (the misnamed Free Market Economic System).

Look at the facts! Four trillion dollars added to the national debt- a relatively small amount to Iraqis for schools, hospitals, roads and other parts of their infrastructure. Most of the money, however, has gone to Haliburton, Mobil Oil, Blackwater International and almost 200,000 American “carpetbaggers.” Billions of dollars in oil has been sold on the black market by crooked Iraqis and Bush-sponsored Americans.

Mr. Bush has presided over this debacle, while ensuring that the price of oil will continue to rise to the highest levels possible. To further bolster his efforts, he and the Republican Party (and the incompetent Democrats, as well) have obstructed any reasonable comprehensive energy policy.

The only way to combat these forces (what I like to remind my more religious colleagues is the work of the “Antichrist”) is to educate the public- to see where their jobs are going, where their social security surplus is going, why their dollar is dying in the world market and why their elected leaders are so generously donating our country- not only to the Haliburtons, Mobil Oils, and the President’s corporate buddies, but to China, Japan, Europe, even Canada- on a silver platter.

To fight this exposure and save their trillions in ill-gotten gains, this combination of neoconservatives and “fellow travelers” must control the educational system. This means that teachers, policemen, firemen, etc. must remain grossly underpaid! How many days of war in Iraq would it cost to double every teacher’s salary? How many diseases could be cured with the amount of research money squandered in Iraq in ONE DAY?!

Is Mr. McCain, whom I truly admire, going to suggest that we have vouchers, tax payers’ hard earned dollars, going to finance private schools? Does he, like Rush Limbaugh, want his tax money going to the Reverend Wright to teach children? Besides, doesn’t the Catholic Church have enough money to fund all the schools it wants? Don’t we Jews have enough money to fund our private schools? And, if so many Baptists claim they are too poor to fund their private schools, can they not borrow a few million from their rich brethren, or Benny Hinn could always sell one of his spacious mansions, couldn’t he?

America, it is time for us to readjust our priorities, to see what we truly need, not what we want. What we want we beg for like amoral lobbyists. What we need, we argue for based on equity, logic, compromise and that lost value “the greater good,” that all of the Presidential Candidates say they are seeking.


Allen Finkelstein, D.O.