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"LEADER" Online: Vol. 7, No. 1

Has terrorism hit education, too?

by Michael Popkin, Ph.D.
Founder and President, Active Parenting Publishers

While this issue of LEADER was going to press, a tragedy of truly awesome proportions was unfolding. On September 11, as images of jets flying into heavily occupied buildings burned into our collective consciousness, my letter about the importance of parent involvement suddenly seemed trivial.

As I reconsidered my letter, I thought of the man diving to his death as his “method of choice” had been reduced to jump or burn. I thought of President Bush announcing a change in priorities as $40 billion was now targeted to anti-terrorism. Anti-terrorism trumps anti-bullying every time, just as “to survive” is always higher on the hierarchy of needs than “to thrive.” After all, can we afford not to take action against misguided fanatics who threaten our security and have left thousands of children crying for a parent who will never come home?

How could a sane person object to the President’s new priorities? Yet, a part of me does object. If we allow terrorism to commandeer educational reform in this country, then we have lost a piece of our future along with much of our present. Part of what makes our country great is our ongoing commitment to education. We know it as an investment in the future, an investment no less valuable than the stocks and bonds that were traded in offices throughout the World Trade Center. To let terrorists decimate that commitment is to give them a second victory that will cost us dearly into the future.

What are our leaders to do? My hope is that they will recognize that this is not an either/or choice. We can do both. I was promised a fat tax break in the coming years. Keep it. I enjoy recreation and entertainment as much as anyone. Tax it. Let’s do whatever we need to do to provide for our security without crippling the educational system that lifts us up from the darkness of blind obedience and fanaticism towards the light of knowledge and freedom. For without it, we too can become sheep led by outrageous despots into the cockpits of suicidal ignorance.

Dr. Popkin is the founder and president of Active Parenting Publishers.

Reprinted from Leader magazine.
Copyright 2001 by Active Parenting Publishers, Inc.