The Oath of a Citizen

By: Nancy Salvato

The United States of America has in one fell swoop rejected the status quo and elected the first black president. Now that the minorities in this country have seen one of their own elected to the highest office in the land, hopefully we can finally put the race issue to bed and discontinue the Balkanizing of America. Although we have our differences, these differences should not be what identify us. There should not be a hyphen in front of or behind the word American. Profiling should be left to those who investigate crime.

Although I chose to support McCain-Palin, I feel none of the angst that my Democratic brethren expressed at President Bush’s election. I am willing to accept America’s choice in the next leader of this free country. To be perfectly honest, I am relieved that the sky did not fall, Chicago did not succumb to rioting, and there is a relative sense of calm in the air.

Although I wonder who this man is who is going to lead our country for the next four years, I am choosing to take President-elect Obama at his word that he will be president of all the people that make up these United States. I am a realist and I accept that the change he promised his supporters will occur because we have a Democratic majority in Congress and a Democratic Executive but I am also trusting that the Constitution will function as it was intended and that any substantive change will reflect moderated positions and not extreme special interests. I fervently hope that this new president respects the rule of law and comes to understand that it is not the governmental structure that needs change; it is those who have abused the power of their office that need to be changed.

To be sure, I have fundamental differences with the party in power. I absolutely do not want the government to be given more authority over decisions that I am fully capable of making on my own. I want to be given the opportunity to choose my own affordable healthcare and take it with me no matter where I work. I don’t want to pay any more taxes. If I’m going to spend money, I want to choose how it is spent. I don’t agree with entitlement and I don’t want to contribute to those who do not share my work ethic.

It is no secret that those who are successful succeed because they set a goal and work against all odds to achieve it, sometimes making large sacrifices. These are people who derive satisfaction from the challenge and a job well done. This secret to success is something that needs to be learned in our schools and in our homes.

The most important government mandated change that could take place is in our institutions of learning. To begin, kids should not be rewarded just for showing up to school. Public tax dollars should not be doled out for grades. There are much better ways to provide incentives. Banking tuition credit at a college would be a much better way to motivate parents to sit down with their children and encourage them to do well and work hard in school from day one. Tutors and after-school programs should be made available to students who need them. Kids need to be shown the incremental progress they make, to incentivize them to work harder at school, which is their job.

Being good at math, science, social studies, or writing should be recognized as just important an accomplishment as being good at sports. We must stop inflating grades and socially promoting students. Sometimes an 8 year old should be working at a 12th grade level in math and a 1st grade level in reading. This should be accommodated but not the way it’s currently done. Instead of pushing kids through each grade based on their age, they should be expected to meet benchmarks in subject areas in order to move to the next level in that subject. This can happen at varying rates. This would better serve kids than forcing one teacher to manage all different learning levels and needs in one class.

If we are to equalize opportunity to realize the American Dream, all children must be provided the very best educational opportunities to achieve it. Throwing money at a broken school system won’t create the kind of change we need. Revamping the way students are passed through each grade level and changing the way our schools are managed is what needs to happen. Ridding schools of outdated textbooks and using modular curriculum and technology will bring us to the next level. Special interest agendas need to be taken out of the classrooms. Adults need affordable lifelong opportunities to continue their education, as well.

I want to see change, too, President-elect Obama. I would gladly support you if you can help to implement this kind of change.

There are two things I ask of this new administration. I ask that they respect the government that was put into place 220 years ago because it allows us the most freedom to pursue the most happiness without trampling on others’ freedom and pursuit of happiness. I ask that the change that can and should help more people realize their dreams not occur at someone else’s expense. Let’s begin the new era of change by teaching those who cannot fish, how to fish. Someone else’s hard earned catch should not be used to feed another person’s drive and ambition. This has to come from within.

Nancy Salvato is the President and Director of Constitutional Literacy Program for Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)(3) research and educational project whose mission is to re-introduce the American public to the basic elements of our constitutional heritage while providing non-partisan, fact-based information on relevant socio-political issues important to our country, specifically the threats of aggressive Islamofascism and the American Fifth Column. She serves as the Assistant Provost for the American College of Education and as a Senior Editor for The New Media Journal. She is also a staff writer, for the New Media Alliance, Inc., a non-profit (501c3) coalition of writers and grass-roots media outlets, and a frequent contributing writer to The World & I educational magazine.

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