Her official homecoming begins Saturday but first Fayetteville's Nina Davuluri talked first with Bob. Listen Below
Everyone hates Common Core.
In New York, they hate it on the Left and they hate it on the Right.
They gather by the hundreds to yell at state officials, they write letters to the editor about it, they plan lawsuits to trip it up.
It is quite possibly the most universally unpopular government policy in a generation. And in New York, that’s saying something.
What is Common Core?
It’s the nationwide public-school curriculum that is the centerpiece of Barack Obama’s Race To The Top program. It tells America’s teachers what to teach and how to teach it. It makes Washington the master of American education and, consequently, the master of the American mind.
That’s why conservatives don’t like it. They believe it’s indoctrination, not education.
And they’re probably right.
Liberals don’t like it because it essentially castrates the teaching profession. The individual abilities, insights and creativity of teachers count for nothing.
Some fret over the pace and means of implementation. Others mourn the death of America’s tradition of locally controlled education. They fear the imposition of an official national “culture” based on the liberal, big city values of the president and his party.
People come from different places, but they arrive at the same destination – they hate Common Core.
And they’ve taken it out on the state’s unfortunate education commissioner, a nice enough fellow who might as well have “scapegoat” tattooed across his forehead. He has been yelled at, cussed at and had any number of people remind him that his own children attend private schools.
But he’s the sacrificial lamb.
Ironically, all the rage associated with Common Core has completely missed the two men directly responsible for it – Barack Obama and Andrew Cuomo. One is god and the other is the son of a god, and in America’s most reliably Democratic state, these two guys get a pass.
Even though it is a $700 million arrangement between the two of them that assures that, no matter how much people howl, Common Core is a burden New Yorkers are going to have to get used to.
Because it was $700 million that Barack Obama sent to the New York state government that got Andrew Cuomo to commit the state to being the nation’s big-population home to Common Core.
We’re the bought-and-paid-for guinea pigs.
We are also the voiceless masses.
The governor and the president have decided how our schools will be run, and if we don’t like it, we are free to go pound salt.
It doesn’t matter how impassioned we are, it doesn’t matter how wrong we believe it is. There are 20 million votes against Common Core, and 700 million votes for it. It’s your kids on one side of the balance, and $700 million on the other, and your kids come up wanting.
Which is a repudiation of about everything America stands for. Local control is lost, federal supremacy is established, the people’s voice is ignored. The parents and teachers of your community mean nothing, the president and his planners mean everything, your children’s developing minds become receptacles for a one-size-fits-all liberalism, imported from far away.
And New York is just one of the first beachheads.
Yes, we need educational accountability. We need to hold schools, teachers and students to high standards. We must move away from the lowest-common-denominator standard which defines so much of contemporary education.
But you can’t do the right thing the wrong way.
When George W. Bush imposed No Child Left Behind, many Republicans silently ignored the violation of principle because it was their guy and they liked what he was pushing. Improving education, pushing back against the teachers unions, raising standards. That all sounds good.
But it came at the cost of a deadly precedent.
It established the precedent that it’s OK for the federal government to take a large and direct role in structuring American public education. It made Washington the master and locals the slaves.
And when Barack Obama was elected, he adopted Common Core and made it his own. He kept the idea of federal control, and imposed a different direction and objective.
And here we are.
And everybody’s mad.
And everybody’s going to lose.
Because Andrew Cuomo and Barack Obama have made their deal.
Obama wrote the check and Cuomo cashed it.
And the rest of us can go to hell.
I think I ought to have today off.
Me, and every other veteran.
As it is, I’m going to work, and so are a lot of other veterans, and the only people who get off are the school kids, the bankers, the government people and the mail man.
This is one of those optional holidays, which means it’s not much of a holiday, and I’m fine with that. Nobody went in the service to get their hind end kissed.
Mostly they went in because they needed to get on with life, or to get a place to live or some food in their belly or a doctor for their pregnant wife. Some had a national enemy they wanted to fight – the Japanese, the Germans, the Koreans, the Soviets – or a personified foe – Tojo, Charlie, Hadji -- or something personal to prove. Some had to choose between jail and boot camp, or had been thrown out of the house or needed a job, or a way to pay for college.
Whatever the reason they came in, they each toed the line, and they raised their arm to the square.
That’s the first bond of the veteran.
Each person enlisted or commissioned in the armed forces of the United States must take the same oath, to uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to bear true faith and allegiance to that Constitution. It’s a blood oath. You keep it, and you shed your blood to keep it, if you must.
It’s also an oath without an expiration date.
You may sign up for a period of years, and your legal obligation to the government may end, but death is the only thing that lets a serviceman out of his oath to stand by the Constitution, as its defender and follower, in war and peace.
For many veterans, the meaning of that oath and the obligation it places upon them grows keener with the passing of the years.
Another aspect of that oath of enlistment or commissioning is that it must be administered in the presence of the flag of the United States. A man or woman must stand in front of the flag and raise his or her arm to the square and make a lifelong pledge.
For many veterans, each sight of that flag for the rest of their lives is a subtle reminder of that oath. It is also a reminder of another event which binds all veterans together – the parting embrace of that flag before they are lowered beneath the sod.
See, that’s where we get our payoff.
Not today, but at the last day.
There are only two classes of people who are entitled to having the American flag laid across their caskets – presidents of the United States and honorably discharged members of the armed forces.
On that day, America will say thank you. On the day we are released from our oath, the flag which witnessed it will give us our farewell. It is a hug from the nation we served.
When a veteran sees the flag flying high, he unconsciously understands that looming day. He understands that the flag brought him in and the flag will see him out.
Because a veteran, a veteran true to his oath, is a different sort of person. Because of his experiences, and because of his character.
The experiences are varied, from long sea duty to company supply rooms to the roar of a jet engine or the ping, ping, ping of enemy fire. Some go to war, most serve in peace, all promise to go where they are sent, to do what they are told, to pay whatever price. Duty isn’t what you are asked to do, it is how you respond to what you are asked to do. Consequently, the honor is not in what you are asked to do, it is in the faithfulness with which you do what you are asked to do. The proverbial blank check is for literally up to and including your very life, and the bravest day of your life is when you sign that check and hand it over to Uncle Sam.
Everything after that is just duty.
And a veteran is a veteran.
And a veteran is different from a civilian.
To be honest, a veteran is better than a civilian. At least that’s what most veterans think. It’s an attitude that kicks in about the time of the gas chamber at basic training. When the long days and the early dawns and the constant stress and abuse become bearable, when a young GI begins to master new skills, when he gets beyond the point of being scared crapless and begins to build that sense of can-do confidence, when he starts to become a fire-eating bad ass, that’s when a veteran becomes different from a civilian.
And that’s when other veterans become his brothers. It may be forged on the battlefield, or it may be simply formed by the common uncertainty of military service, the camaraderie and commiseration of being under orders and marching to the whim of superiors who almost always seem to be idiots.
We all loved it, and the further we get from it the more we loved it. But not many of us re-enlisted. For most of us, once was enough. It was a hard and wonderful time, when most of us grew up, when we belonged to something bigger than ourselves and did something that truly mattered, when we became people who will live to the end of our days defined and shaped by the time we spent in the uniform and service of our country.
That’s what a veteran is. That’s who we are.
And this is our day.
And we’re going to do what we’ve always done. We’re going to get up and go to work.