The Edmond Sun

Opinion

November 16, 2012

Democracy’s future: In the hands of our educators

LANGSTON — Whether we are pleased with the outcome of the 2012 presidential election, it is critical to understand that the true winner is America. Although imperfect, history has proven democracy to be a strong, vital and effective form of government. And the credit for this success belongs primarily to our educators.

As early as the 25th century BC, the ancient Egyptians recognized the importance of an informed citizenry in effective governance. As a leader, Ptah Hotep wrote the “Maxims for Good Discourse” which is arguably the first book in recorded human history, and is sometimes considered a precursor to the Bible’s Ten Commandments. However, his intentions were very pragmatic; it was a means of instilling the value of sound wisdom in the daily affairs of his citizens.

More than 2,000 years later, nearby ancient Greek philosopher Socrates (469-399 BC) began his massive campaign to educate the citizenry of Greece. He undoubtedly left his mark via the works of his students, Plato (427-347 BC) and Aristotle (384-322 BC), two of the most influential thinkers in Western civilization. And, to date, the Socratic method is used in classrooms throughout the country and is noted as one of the most effective ways to teach law and medical students.

Socrates’ primary motivation for educating was to provide a place where youth could gather and be free from mundane worries to focus on higher-order thought processes. His purpose was to create a well-educated citizenry who knew enough about a variety of things to be able to make good decisions concerning the governance of their society. It was amid this educational process that the idea of shared governance and democracy was formalized.

So the wisdom of our ancestors has given us insight about the value of an informed citizenry. Thus, it should be of no surprise to find that contemporary research places our society’s educational system at the forefront of political engagement and civil development.

Research suggests that among all of the socioeconomic factors, education is the single most dominant predictor of political involvement. Before attending college, those with high verbal acuity had a tendency to be more politically active. Being comfortable with oral and written language skills and reading comprehension appears to be a large part of politics.  

According to the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center, college graduates are more likely to be active in community service and politically engaged, especially those who have a strong background in social sciences and humanities. Evidently, understanding our society, our history and our own human behavior in a more in-depth way helps us feel better equipped to be a part of our society's decision-making process. In the words of Ocean Jackson, senior English major at Langston University, “Coming to college has made me more aware of everything, including politics.”

Although social science and humanities majors tend to be among the lowest-paid college graduates in comparison to science, technology and engineering majors, they are apparently the ones who are active in helping our country make the vital decisions that are crucial to our future.

Every individual has the inalienable human right to participate in the shaping of their own destiny. As Americans, we have this privilege and the consequent responsibility of creating the best possible future for generations to come. So thanks to all of our educators who are an essential part of preparing our citizens for this tremendous task. You are the reason democracy works. Both ancient and modern civilizations applaud you.

LONNIE JOHNSON JR. is a faculty member in the Department of Communication at Langston University.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Bangladesh’s sweatshops — a boycott is not the answer

    One year ago this week, the eight-story Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh’s capital city of Dhaka, killing 1,129 people. The building’s top floors had been added illegally, and their weight caused the lower stories to buckle. Many of the victims were young women who had been sewing low-priced clothes for Western brands, earning a minimum wage of about $9 a week. It was the worst disaster in garment industry history.

    April 24, 2014

  • Loosening constraints on campaign donations and spending doesn’t destroy democracy

    Campaign finance reformers are worried about the future. They contend that two Supreme Court rulings — the McCutcheon decision in March and the 2010 Citizens United decision — will magnify inequality in U.S. politics.
    In both cases, the court majority relaxed constraints on how money can be spent on or donated to political campaigns. By allowing more private money to flow to campaigns, the critics maintain, the court has allowed the rich an unfair advantage in shaping political outcomes and made “one dollar, one vote” (in one formulation) the measure of our corrupted democracy.
    This argument misses the mark for at least four reasons.

    April 23, 2014

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 23, 2014

  • Free trade on steroids: The threat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

    Many supporters of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade agreement are arguing that its fate rests on President Obama’s bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan this week. If Japan and the United States can sort out market access issues for agriculture and automobiles, the wisdom goes, this huge deal — in effect, a North American Free Trade Agreement on steroids — can at last be concluded.

    April 22, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 22, 2014

  • Chicago Tribune: If Walgreen Co. moves its HQ to Europe, blame Washington’s tax failure

    The Walgreen Co. drugstore chain got its start nearly a century ago in downstate Dixon, Ill., before moving its corporate headquarters to Chicago and eventually to north suburban Deerfield, Ill.
    Next stop? Could be Bern, Switzerland.
    A group of shareholders reportedly is pressuring the giant retail chain for a move to the land of cuckoo clocks. The reason: lower taxes. Much lower taxes.
    If Walgreen changes its legal domicile to Switzerland, where it recently acquired a stake in European drugstore chain Alliance Boots, the company could save big bucks on its corporate income-tax bill. The effective U.S. income-tax rate for Walgreen, according to analysts at Swiss Bank UBS: 37 percent. For Alliance Boots: about 20 percent.

    April 21, 2014

  • Sulphur a future major tourist destination?

    Greta Garbo says, “I want to be alone,” in the 1932 film “Grand Hotel.” That MGM film starred Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery and a young actress from Lawton named Joan Crawford. It told the stories of several different people who were staying at an exclusive hotel of that name in Berlin Germany.
    It was critically well received and it inspired more recent films such as “Gosford Park” and television shows such as “Downton Abbey” in that it detailed the relationship between powerful and wealthy people and those who served them. The film opened amidst much fanfare and it received the Oscar for best picture in the year of its release.

    April 21, 2014

  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why poverty across the world matters to Americans

    A child starving in South Sudan should matter to Americans. That was the message delivered last week by Nancy Lindborg, whose job at the U.S. Agency for International Development is to lead a federal bureau spreading democracy and humanitarian assistance across the world.
    That world has reached a critical danger zone, with three high-level crises combining military conflict with humanitarian catastrophes affecting millions of innocents in Syria, the South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
    But back to that child.

    April 18, 2014

  • Government leadership complicit in overfilling prisons

    One of the thorniest problems facing any society is the question of what to do with transgressors. Obviously, the more complicated a culture becomes, the more factors come into play in trying to figure out what to do with those who choose not to “play by the rules.”

    April 18, 2014

  • My best days are ones normal people take for granted

    It is a weekend for working around the house. My fiancee, Erin, and I have the baby’s room to paint and some IKEA furniture to assemble. I roll out of bed early — 10:30 — and get into my wheelchair. Erin is already making coffee in the kitchen.
    “I started the first wall,” she says. “I love that gray.” Erin never bugs me about sleeping late. For a few months after I was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, I often slept 15 hours a day. The doctors said my body needed to heal. It must still be healing because I hardly ever see 8 a.m. anymore.

    April 18, 2014

Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results