Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Remembering Ted Kennedy
Ted Kennedy was a great American legislator, an amazing leader and an inspiring man. I received my Political Science degree at Duke after studying reforms, regulations, and acts that Teddy had a hand in. Any good study of American (or International/Comparative) Politics is incomplete without interacting with his ideology and relentless work ethic. As a Masters in the sociology of education I struggled with the NCLB act he spearheaded alongside Bush and understood his work in closing the racial and socioeconomic achievement gap in schools. We learned of his great efforts directed towards the American student.
To honor Kennedy, we should do as he said as he gave up the possibility of nomination for Democratic candidate for president in 1980. "For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die. ...” The three following causes were a big part of a life he spent in service of the American people. They are three causes that I at least, will work on to keep the dream alive.
* Health Care as a Fundamental Right for All –
“This is the cause of my life.” Kennedy’s life work is forever entangled with Health Care reform. His return to the Senate after his initial scare and operation on his incurable brain cancer are indicative of how close Kennedy thinks we currently are to being able to advance the cause of Universal Health Care. I am keeping an open mind, and listening to all the voices and differing opinions as Kennedy undoubtedly did and would continue to do. I am also keeping in mind the millions of families that can’t afford to take care of themselves and the other millions that are unaware that their health care coverage is insufficient.
* Access to Education and NCLB –
Yes, Kennedy’s partnership with W. spearheaded “No Child Left Behind.” Kennedy sponsored the bill because we track for the first time the inequality in academic achievement and access between students of different races so that we can focus on closing the achievement gap. The problems with NCLB are numerous and have been well documented, so I don’t feel like I should discuss them once again here. That instinct to protect minority populations and forgotten students through accountability is one that should live on (and does). Our efforts to give ALL children the opportunity to be successful should be informed by Kennedy and redoubled.
* Immigration Reform
The failed Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, the failed Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act, (2005) and partnership with Republicans and Democrats alike are just the beginning of Ted’s resume on immigration. After all is said and done, the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act will have been his biggest contribution to immigration reform, an act that abolished national-origin quotas that had been in place since 1924. The Boston Globe in 2008 argued that President Obama’s successful candidacy could trace its roots back to that Ted Kennedy sponsored ’65 Act. Ted Kennedy’s belief that everyone that would contribute to the American project should be granted access to the American dream while protecting those who need government protection here is commendable and a great example to follow.
Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy (February 22, 1932 – August 25, 2009)