Speaking at the Capitol

I'm speaking at the Hawai'i State Capitol today as part of a Hawai'i Pacific University public speaking event, on the topic: "Are creativity and expression in danger within the current educational system?"

Last night, I worked out a speech. I'm sure it will change as I listen to the other speakers, but here is the first draft of the closing passage, invoking Martin Luther King, Jr. I've always been inspired by the man; his integrity, passion, and work ethic were rare and marvelous.

I have a dream, and I invoke a great man because my dream is no less serious than his. I have a dream rooted in the American dream. We must recommit ourselves to the realization of the dream, that hard work pays off. We must recommit ourselves to the idea that opportunity should be accorded not by birth, but by ability and achievement. We must recommit ourselves to the equalizing force of education, recognizing creativity and expression as necessary conditions for realizing that equalizing, democratizing, liberating force of education.

The world is groaning under the weight of humanity. We must learn to be better stewards. Our children are the future, so we must enable them to meet the challenges of tomorrow with open, critical minds. They must question our assumptions, engage in debate, and use the power of poetry to interrogate and redefine their worlds. When we come together to invest in our students, we will be ready to reverse the trend toward the opposite poles of dogma and apathy. We will rescue creativity and expression from their perilous positions within education.

When we do, we will not need to let freedom ring, for freedom will resonate in each of us. We will fulfill the promise of a nation indivisible-- not because we do not disagree, but because we recognize some mutual obligations transcend petty disagreement, that above all else, our children are the future, and we must not trap them by the machine logic of the market. We must free our students from the constraints of standardized testing, unburden our entrusted teachers from the pressure of test scores, and supply our administrators the resources necessary for sustaining growth in all directions. Creativity and expression are in danger within the educational system today, but we can save them, together.