July 7, 2016 was a day of yet another senseless tragedy, this time pretty much in my backyard in Dallas. As I reflected on why these continue to happen and how we might turn the corner and return to some degree of calm and normalcy, I read an article in my local paper pondering how safe we all are at sporting events and venues. I have thought a lot about what is needed, and conversation and engagement can be two of the initiatives that will start to bridge gaps that have widened over the past several years.
While I initially wondered if it is wise to put a headline of “Here’s hoping the ballpark stays a safe place” (Ft.Worth Star Telegram, op/ed by Mac Engel) on the front page of the sports section, the more I thought about it, the more I applaud the brevity and candor of the article. But what really struck me in the article was a quote from Elie Wiesel, Nobel Prize winner and Holocaust survivor who died earlier in the week.
"Whatever the essential answer to urgent and dangerous problems is, surely education is a major component. Without it, nothing is possible. Without it, there is no culture, no civilization, no compassion, no humanity."
In my blogs over the past couple of years, I have talked at length about the impact of public education not just on today’s youth but on the future of our country and civilization. Wiesel’s quote captures this far better than I could have ever said it and I appreciate Mac Engel sharing it with all of us who read his column. Sadly, many including the shooter in Dallas have resorted to violence as a way of expressing their frustration at events such as those that apparently prompted the actions taken.
But what if we took the time to sit down and talk out the concerns, specifically with an eye toward finding solutions. The challenges of today are eerily similar to events that happened more than 50 years ago. And the unrest will not be solved overnight. But I do believe that there is hope through education, giving students an opportunity to understand events that have shaped our history and led to the freedoms we have today.
While some would argue that we are losing some of those freedoms for fear of events like the shooting in Dallas, I believe that discussing these events, ramifications and possible solutions will go a lot farther than ignoring them or, as some have done, strictly focusing on blame rather than solutions. It is my hope that public education will be an environment and platform to begin the discussion. As Mr. Wiesel said, “If there is anything that could disarm fanaticism, it is learning. It’s education.”
As public education advocates who are committed to fostering a better world tomorrow, it is critical that we all continue to Make Education a Priority, to focus on the importance of public education in creating a safer and unified world for our children.