Complaints about the quality of American public education are seldom absent from our political and historical debates. At issue are two related questions — whether the population is adequately educated to keep America great (defined in various ways) and whether the public schools are providing the ladder for upward social and economic mobility we believe in. Continue reading
“Why,” fulminated Franklin, “should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of us Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or our Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion.”
Does that sound familiar? Wait, there’s more.
In the aftermath of the Charleston church shooting and the recent police incidents leading to the death and harassment of black men and women, many are calling for a national conversation on race.
Is change even possible?
The national conversation about excessive use of police force that we’re supposed to have been conducting since Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner were killed didn’t save Walter Scott’s life. The Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre of 26 children and staff that we hoped would be the tipping point on gun violence hasn’t slowed the NRA by a heartbeat. Earth Day is April 22, but if the bad news about heat, drought, sea levels and dying oceans hasn’t loosened the fossil fuel industry’s death grip on Congress by now, it’s hard to imagine any millions of marchers in any number of cities making a difference. Continue reading
To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, this post will honor the memory of a neglected Irish-American statesman and orator: William Bourke Cockran (1854-1923).
Cockran was born in Country Sligo, Ireland. He emigrated to America at age 17, settling in New York. There, he became a successful lawyer, a member of Congress, and a friend and confidant of some of the leading men of the time, including inventor Thomas Edison, publisher Joseph Pulitzer and Presidents Grover Cleveland and Teddy Roosevelt. He also became known as America’s greatest living orator. (No less a rhetorical titan than Winston Churchill would call Cockran his “model.”)