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January 25, 2010     Cape Gazette
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J Cape Gazette Cape Life FRIDAY, JANUARY 22 - MONDAY, JANUARY 25, 2010 41 Lowery: Education most important civil rights issue.00 Delaware Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery talks about reforming the state's education system, Education secretary speaks during MLK banquet By Ron MacArthur ronm@capegazette.com Lillian M. Lowery, Delaware secretary of education, urged the hundreds gathered for the 18th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration Weekend banquet Saturday, Jan. 16, to become an active and vocal friend for the children of Delaware. She reminded all in atten- dance at the CHEER Center in Georgetown to consider the words of King:. "We will remem- ber not the words of our ene- mies, but the silence of our friends." "I promise to you tonight not to be a silent friend to our most precious natural re- source - our children," she said. "The education of our children is the most important civil rights issue of the 21st century." Focus on youth was the ban- The Rev. Carolyn Burton of Passion for Christ Ministries offers the closing prayer. quet's theme. Lowery said the Gov. Jack Markell administration is setting the most aggressive agenda in history for education reform. "We need to think differently about public education," she said. The Delaware General Assem- bly passed three education re- form bills during the last session. Senate Bill 68 provides measures to replace the state testing pro- gram, one that replaces lagging indicators with leading indica- tors - at the point students walk in the door at the beginning of the year, Lowery said. Students will be tested three times to as- sess their progress and make changes. An end-of- the-year test wilt be given as well. "It will be the same test administered at the beginning of school Continued on page 44 RON MACARTHUR PHOTOS MOZELLA MATTHEW$, A student from Beacon Middle School, reads the poem "Wake Up! Wake Up!" during the Martin Luther King Celebration Week- end banquet. Enjoying the MLK banquet are (I-r) Cory, Brenda and Dwayne Barnes of Milton. he recent earthquake and subsequent devas- tation in Haiti has brought to the surface what we all knew to begin with, that life is a moment. There is a fragile line that could change any second, leaving some of us behind and taking others away. In a fleeting catch of the breath, one person could no longer exist or it could be thousands who could join that statistic. There is no guarantee of a tomorrow. The pictures coming forth of death and suffering emerging from a tropical island brought to its knees should and will have an impact on all citizens of the world. Here, at home, we will turn to a number of avenues for answers, just like after the 9/11 tragedy. We will try to make sense of catastrophic disasters like Hurricane Katrina. The poets will tell us in elo- quent words to lid down beside Holding hands and praying to close out the MLK Celebration Weekend banquet are (I-r) Shanika Evans of Milton, Manwell Davis of Coolspring, Chardasia Steward of Milton and Suprenia Burton of Milton. The Rev. William Wallace, one of the founders of the event, talks about the importance of maintaining a dream. "Visions and dreams are part of what we are," he said. the river and weep. And oh, how we shall weep and waiL The wa- ter is a natural place to grieve. Even though nature has taken us from this Earth, she also will ex- tend and embrace us in her arms. Our agony is long and plain- five. The poets willtell us to seek the shade to calm our souls and quench our (hirst for relief. It will be cool there. We can re- group and rest away from the constant heat. But, what nswers can we ex- pect from the winding green vines, growing skyward on a sun-drenched day? What messages can we take from hearing the lilt of water flowing freely through the rocks and stones, heading effortlessly somewhere beyond our view? How can the sand that cush- ions our head in our sorrow bring some semblance of sanity to a frightened heart? We may look forever for something written to help us cope with these disasters. Haiti itself has had its beauty taken away before. Its picturesque palm trees, blue ultramarine wa- ters and gentle people have been beaten down by a history scat- tered with a cadre of dictators and years of unending poverty. But we can take lessons from poets, philosophers, ancient civi- lizations, nature and otir own written to help us cope spiritual quest. Edith Hamilton in her book, "The Greek Way," cautions us that "Great litera- ture, past or present, is the ex- pression of great knowledge of the human heart; great art is the expression of a solution of the conflict between the demands of the world without and that with- in; and within the wisdom of ei- ther; there would seem to be small progress.." Basically what nature is telling us is to stop and look around at what grows freely from the ground or acts as a backdrop for weary souls and anxious spirits to find relief. It reminds us that we need to pay attention to what matters most in life, each other Too often, we have become fo- cused on trivial matters that in the end get us nowhere. Our goals are momentary, only exist- ing from day to day and need to nore need. Sometimes it borders on petti- ness with a neighbor Words become personal and a slight from a stranger sparks outrage over something as small as a place in line. We put a lot of importance in celebrities and politicians. What surrounds us though is a community. What engulfs us in catastrophic events is aunity that we can extend ourselves and help those who cannot quench their thirst or hunger. We open our wallets and our hearts. We look not to celebrities, politicians and those who seek the spotlight for themselves. But we should glance to our fellow man. There are plenty of av- enues for giving. Edith Hamilton also wrote in her book of hope for tomorrow, "..And yet every human being has a share in the experiences of the spirit." I apol- ogize for behig preachy, except that hope would be a tomorrow.