Full disclosure up front: I am actively working with the Kira Willis for State Superintendent of Schools campaign.
Kira Willis, a 17 year veteran classroom teacher from Roswell, has entered the State School Superintendent race and is seeking the nomination of the Libertarian Party of Georgia.
Kira is running on what she calls the “ABCs of Education”: Accountability, Budget, and Community.
As a classroom teacher, Kira knows that accountability cannot just mean more regulations on teachers and schools, but that each stakeholder in education should be held accountable for their own products. These stakeholders are students, parents, teachers, schools, and communities.
What was once a partnership between the school and home has become a disenfranchised blame game. Parents have been disregarded by the schools and the state as irrelevant to their children’s education. All parents have both a right and a responsibility to their children’s schooling. I can’t think of any parent who does not want his child to succeed. As State School Superintendent, I want to help mend the bridge between the school and the home. This means having parents accountable for their children coming to school ready to learn. It means that parents must help the school in teaching their young people.
Kira wants to eliminate to as much a degree as possible positions that have little to no contact with students. This means minimizing the bureaucracy of the State Department of Education and making it a servant of the local schools rather than a tyrant over them. She will also work to encourage local school systems to follow her lead and eliminate much of the central office bureaucracy that serves as little more than patronage and cronyism. This will help ease Georgia out of its budget crisis as well as help local school systems avoid having to furlough teachers.
Finally, Kira stresses community. Again, from her website:
We need to give the schools back to their communities! What’s best for students in Atlanta may not be best for students in Rome or Valdosta. Our job as educators is to ensure that we are teaching students to reach a specific standard of learning, not to ensure that we teach them exactly the same thing at exactly the same time. Who knows better how to teach students: the state or the teachers within community itself? Taking away the community school was a disservice to the students and to the school community.
Fear. It has been the tool of the Big Government Party – particularly its “Republican” wing – for quite a while.
The entire Big Government Party uses it to subdue and subject the American people with great effect. The Democrat half tells us we should fear Republicans because they will throw our sick and infirm out on the street in a blizzard. The Republicans tell us we should fear Democrats because they will allow America’s enemies to destroy it.
Indeed, Georgia’s own Erick Erickson is one chief fearmonger (and warmonger) here. It is typified in his latest post on RedState, where he states
how many Americans are going to die because of Barack Obama’s handling of our national security?
This is my newest tattoo, the one I am calling “Freeom: Laws Redefined”. It is a cross made of 2 nails, with an 8 made of 2 more nails. Faith and Freedom are two of the most core ideas to my being – indeed, the intersection of those two ideas is what has driven much of my growth and thinking for more than a decade now.
These ideas started long ago, as a sheltered kid began to question who he was and what he believed. I grew up in a very legalist tradition – rules were rules and you followed them without question, more emphasis on not going to Hell than enjoying your salvation, etc. As a teenager, my heart cried out echoing Stacie Orrico’s “(There’s gotta be) More to Life”. I finally began to find, as ZOEgirl once put it, that “different kind of free”: Freedom – In Christ Alone. I began to realize that as amazing as the gift of Christ was, it wasn’t God’s greatest gift to us, His Image Bearers. He had granted us a gift even greater than Christ, and it was this gift that led directly to the gift of Christ – He gave us Free Will. This was a decade long journey from the bondage of legalism to the freedom of grace – and there are new wrinkles developing on this path as we speak.
But perhaps I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk about the two distinct yet intertwining symbols of this tattoo:
First, the more obscure – the 8. One of my favorite movies, and among the most influential in my thinking, was The Postman – the 1997 movie with Kevin Costner and Will Patton. In it, Patton is the leader of an army who lives and dies based on 8 Laws, as seen in this clip:
Note Law 8 in particular: There is only one penalty: Death. This is a very legalist, oppressive, dictatorial system.
Later in the movie, at the end of the final battle between Costner’s Postmen and Patton’s Holnists, the laws get redefined, as seen here:
Law one becomes “no more killing” and Law 8 becomes “Live, and Let live”.
Thus, Law 8 is redefined as Life. Here we have a free, democratic, vibrant system.
To my mind, where my religious beliefs are never far from the surface, this immediately connected with basically the entire Bible, and particularly the Pauline teachings. In the Bible, the Law was given to the Israelites not as a method of salvation, but as a method of showing them how truly depraved they were – no man could ever possibly live up to every single mandate of the Law every single second of his life. Many thought they could, and by Christ’s time they had become the Pharisees and Sadducees. In John 8 (see how even the 8 is playing in here?), Jesus confronts them the entire chapter, beginning with the woman they caught in adultery and brought to him for judgement. This is where the famous “Go, and sin no more” is uttered. But later in the chapter, in vs 34-37:
I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Freedom. In Christ Alone.
But let’s keep going, there’s more – much more.
In Acts 8, we get one of the first mentions of a guy named Saul. For those that don’t know, this same guy would undergo a dramatic conversion a couple of chapters later and gain a new name in the process – Paul. But in Acts 8, he is still Saul, and he is doing what Saul does – enforcing the Mosaic Law with ruthless efficiency, throwing people in prison and even assisting in their murder over some offense or another. We also have the famous story of Phillip and the Ethiopian here – one of the first documented missionary encounters.
Romans 8 includes some core Pauline philosophy of life through death. Christ was the ultimate redefinition of Law. In the perfect act of mercy, Christ completely redefined millenia of laws. Because He physically died to sin, no one or nothing else has to. We also get a couple of different core beliefs of mine shown in this chapter in vs 31-39:
31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[l] 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[m] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Finally, in 1 Corinthians 8, we see the new wrinkles that are presently developing – what I call the “Conscience of a Libertarian” (something I hope to write about soon, either here or on the political site). This is where Paul discusses with the Corinthians the issue of eating meat sacrificed to idols, and it is where he makes the famous declaration in verse 13 that “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.”