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STRAIGHT FROM THE MIKE – The Civil Rights Issue of Our Time


It has taken decades, but its time has finally arrived and deserves our utmost attention and action. Yes, it does involve our political parties; both of them have guilt on their hands and have exhibited ‘benign neglect’ in their attitude towards our children. It is a blemish on the record of both parties.

It is not uncommon for key issues, vitally important to the masses, to remain in the control of the classes. Such is the case with the duopolistic system that has been allowed to take our public education system for granted for much too long.

In my mind, school choice is now the equivalent of the Underground Railroad from a historical and critical juncture point of view. 

The Abolitionists knew of the importance, the necessity for freedom for all Americans. Many of us know the importance and necessity of a quality education. It goes back even beyond our elders who would opine to my generation the need and importance of a good education. 

Repeatedly, they would say no one can take knowledge from you and you should take advantage of every opportunity to put knowledge in your mind.

Horace Mann, the father of public education, knew all too well that the growth, success, and prosperity of a nation depended upon the quality of a competent public education system. A system that supports equal education, and equal resources to ensure success for the masses, especially our children and grandchildren.

Is there any wonder why many of us equate a poor or marginal education to a death sentence at an early age? It has been determined that the prison industrial complex bases its growth projections on the level of education being received by our third graders. In cases you have not heard, roughly fifty per cent of our third graders are not performing at grade level.

I have long wondered about how we allow officials to make decisions on equal opportunity education in our public school system, yet send their own children to private school. How much cake are our children and their families supposed to eat and for how long?

Two years ago we celebrated the fifty-year anniversary of the institution of postal Zip Codes. I would suggest the post office never anticipated that zip codes would be used to define quality schools versus failing schools in our society in 2023. Seriously, you can even have public schools in the right zip code that competes with private schools.

Chronic absenteeism, high dropout rates and disciplinary challenges can usually be traced directly, seldom without even a detour, to the quality of education being offered. Our good teachers will share that students get bored, not challenged and end up electing to take the road of least resistance and serious effort.

The need for school choice is very much overdue and needs serious discussion in our legislative system. No area of a state has the right to unduly penalize the needs of the entire system that needs major overhaul and redirection. Competition is the tide that can lift all boats, even those anchored in the harbor.

I know of no better quote to sum up this issue than that of my friend, Michael Opitz. “Knowledge is power, ignorance is slavery and apathy is destruction.”

I will leave it there and see what the political agenda will be going forward on this issue. My grandchildren and your children and grandchildren deserve the apples now, to go on their desks, along with one for the teacher.    

I remain Micahel Murphy 


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