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June 2012 Archives

English: U.S. Congressman Charles B. Rangel's ...
On May 5, 2007 Congressman Charles B. Rangel, as the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, made a guest appearance at the Annual UFT Spring Conference. On this momentous occasion, the seated UFT President Randi Weingarten described Rangel as the most important person in Washington, D.C. because as she explained, "All financial appropriations must go through the Ways and Means Committee." Congressman Rangel was not a stranger to members of the United Federation of Teachers. 
His concern for the children and educators has been made evident over the years. "This will be the year of the child and the teacher," Rangel stated as he began his speech. Surely, his philosophy would go a long way, if he could get all members of Congress to see that it is imperative for education to become a priority in our nation. His sentiments echoed the words of Martin Luther King, who hearkened the quest for a decent education as literally a question of life or death for the poor. King foretold of how the poor were not threatened merely by the inconvenience of a lack of education, but by the threat that they would become economically and socially useless in a society requiring high standards of knowledge. Congressman Rangel's view of poverty as a threat to our nation's national security was accurate when he said the following: "A strong workforce is a healthy workforce!" And Rangel proposed that our rich nation invest in its greatest natural resource, the mind and spirit of its people. "It is our government which must provide a life education for its people: Cultivate the mind!"
Rangel stressed the need for jobs for Americans as he noted the fact that our scientists and engineers are recruited from India. Yet, our country does not provide any financial incentives to develop American students who can fill the voids in science, engineering and medicine. Conversely, $20,000 to $40,000 incentives are available to put our youth in harms way as the recruitment of young men and women takes place in the inner cities and towns around the country, which have the highest rates of unemployment. Rangel reported the fact that this recruitment from 40,000 recruiting stations has left a toll of 3,500 troops killed in battle and 25,000 troops have returned with lost faces and skulls as well as mental and emotional scars. 
Congressman Rangel further cautioned against allowing the streets to education our youth. Rangel called for government incentives to develop youth and not give up on those who have fallen. He reminded us of the 2 million children who are "locked up" and the high cost of incarceration of these children -- the incarceration that costs the taxpayer approximately $100,000 a year for a youth offender on Rikers Island. Today, Rangel advocates for more resources in the schools as well as different resources for the myriad problems which the students have to face. "If we can spend $10 billion on an unnecessary war, we can feed the minds of our kids," Rangel said." We cannot survive by losing one half of the brain power." 
It was 50 years ago that Martin Luther King addressed the UFT. At that time he said the following: "The richest nation on earth has never allocated enough of its abundant resources to build sufficient schools, to compensate adequately its teachers, and to surround them with the prestige their work justifies. We squander funds on highways and the frenetic pursuit of recreation, on the over abundance of overkill armaments, but we pauperize education." Surely, Rangel has an awesome task ahead. He is in the position of power in a place where he can affect change: Our Nation's Capital. With Rangel, a well-seasoned public servant who has remained on the front line on many battles from 1948 to the present, we can be assured that the future of this nation is in good hands.
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