Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Letter to the President-Elect

For Scott McLeod's "edublogger letters for the next president" invitation...

Dear President-Elect Obama-

I would like to congratulate you on newly being elected this fine country's 44th president. I'd like to think that my state of Iowa, and in turn myself, had a great hand in this. And thus, had a great hand in changing history. It was, after all, our state that served as a springboard for your historic campaign. You survived the scrutiny of our caucus system, including criss-crossing the state, shaking hands with over half of our residents, and learning about all the intricacies of our state, be it ethanol, or butter cow sculptures.

The one intricacy of Iowa that you undoubtedly had the most exposure to was our schools, the veritable bedrock of what we consider important in our state, symbolically taking its place on the back of our quarter. You undoubtedly heard the accomplishments of our students, saw the insides of our gymnasiums during your speeches, and gathered a sense in both the pride that we have and the difficulties we encounter.

I write to you not to offer advice on education. Neither to ask for your attention to our schools. I feel confident you will surround yourself with many minds that will help you guide our country, and in turn, my state, to better educational policy. I need only look to those like Colin Powell, who have a profound wisdom, to feel good about our future. And as wisdom goes, your two daughters will provide you with much more wisdom about our country's educational needs than many of our nation's past advisors.

I write to you, rather, to echo what many others have said about your candidacy, and now your presidency. Just like Iowa's schools, you are a powerful symbol. An historic symbol. A symbol for our students everywhere, regardless of their humble beginnings or color of their skin, that they can achieve whatever they put their mind to. The votes cast for you were much more than votes cast for your ideology or votes cast against the previous president; they were votes cast for the very democratic principles that make this country truly strong. And while American schools occasionally take their lumps when compared to other nations--who are selective in who they educate, separating their students into tracks early on and focusing intensely on that elite track, and thus passing us by on test scores--this is where America shines. Because, America is the example of the democratic society where all can come and achieve. This democratic ideal is worth more than all the test scores the world can muster, and worth more than any educational policy plea I would make.

You certainly do not need me to tell you the weight of your accomplishment. But, perhaps, none say it better than this person.

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