Robert Hallenbeck: Repression hurts education

December 14, 2013 

Last week ended on a sad note with the passing of Nelson Mandela, “the troublemaker” as he was known in school. As I told my students recently, especially the troublemakers, they were lucky to have shared the planet with him for even a short time. Most of them are only 12 and don’t know how lucky they are to be getting an education.

South African students in 1976 knew differently. While Mandela sat in prison, students in Soweto organized protests against the forced use of European languages in their schools. The government responded violently, killing hundreds and wounding others. It became a crucial turning point in the global fight against apartheid.

The educational issues we face in N.C. are not as repressive but do echo the lessons of Soweto where a government can use education to manipulate its citizens. An educated electorate recognizes this power and also how important demanding a quality education is. Education is the cornerstone of our democracy, and this past year it has been whittled down by government policies that weaken the teaching profession and education in general.

While not repressive by design, “they” are certainly regressive, and “we” deserve better in N.C.

Robert Hallenbeck


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