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February 2, 2009

Smarts is Back

by Stevi Carroll
Pasadena Star-News 2/2/09

I just finished reading Michael Gerson's article in which he expresses concern that some of President Obama's supporters are thrilled because "brains are back." I know anti-intellectualism is a thread that runs through the United States. I don't believe it's one of our finest traits.

I think saying President Obama and his team think somehow they are "better" than others because of their "smarts" is untrue. Remember the slur "community organizer" used during the campaign? People who go out into communities to see what problems exist and to find, with the people, ways to address those problems are able to use their intelligence along with their compassion and empathy to get to the roots of these problems and find solutions. Hardly an elite business.

I find the intelligence in the White House to be a reason for joy, especially given my chosen career: education.

Perhaps Mr. Gerson's children do not endure taunts of "schoolboy" or "schoolgirl" if they do well in school, but many nonwhite or financially poor youngsters receive that message loud and clear daily. Perhaps as his children do well in school they are not accused of "acting white" when they excel, but many nonwhite, especially African-American kids, have heard that since kindergarten.

Perhaps his children when they produce noteworthy assignments do not experience the "crabs pulling that one crab that climbs to the top of the pail back down into the muck" as many nonwhite or financially poor youngsters do each time they perform at grade level or above.

Perhaps as his children enjoy reading for knowledge or pleasure, they do not hear slurs of "geek" or "dork" or worse because they find reading to be a gateway to a fuller life, but many nonwhite or financially poor children do.

We as a country and a world have many challenges. Each generation has always faced mighty mountains to climb. We don't have time to scorn intelligence anymore. We need all the brain power we can muster, and brain power from both the left and the right hemispheres. This is our moment to embrace intelligence, to be proud of being smart and capable, to encourage our youngsters to develop their minds as much as they should develop their healthy bodies and spirits.

This is what has me thrilled about the intelligence in the White House, and I do not believe President Obama needs to be saved from the likes of me.

Pasadena Star-News 2/2/09