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
How could a sane person object to the Presidents 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. Lets 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
Reprinted from Leader magazine.
Copyright 2001 by Active Parenting Publishers, Inc.