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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Plenty for war, little for schools

"EVERY GUN that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children." --U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953.

"War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent." --British author George Orwell (1903-1950)

I was reminded of these quotes, which a colleague on a discussion group of progressive scientists puts at the bottom of all her emails, by a story in the New York Times today about Georgia state superintendant of schools Kathy Cox, who won $1 million on the Fox game show "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" Cox plans to give most of the money to two state schools for the deaf and one for the blind, the Times reports.

“These kids, it’s very hard for them sometimes to have the resources to participate in a lot of extracurricular activities and do a lot of the regular things elementary and high school kids do,” Ms. Cox said in a telephone interview.

On the show, which was recorded on Aug. 6 in Los Angeles, Ms. Cox, a former high school history teacher, correctly answered 10 questions, all of which were drawn from elementary school curriculums. That took her to the million-dollar question: Who was the longest-reigning British monarch? She answered Queen Victoria.

And why is it hard to find resources for these kids? Well, with $100 billion per year going to the war in Iraq alone, I will defer to the wisdom of Messieurs Eisenhower and Orwell.

Photo: Kathy Cox (with glasses on left)/Georgia Department of Education.

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