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“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” — Blaise Pascal

I want to volunteer to serve the community in Stockton, California, recruiting educated volunteers to address literacy challenges in the classroom, screening documentaries designed to help youngsters to learn about history from various perspectives, helping youngsters who’ve chosen academic tracks to prepare for their SAT and other required tests, and — among many other things — arranging for young new authors to visit the Stockton Unified School District on a lecture circuit I plan to set up… to serve as models for select students.

The thing is, I want to simultaneously encourage the children, their loved ones, colleagues and members of the general community to become activists of a sort. They need to do that for their survival. For the local water which has been given a “clean bill of health” from authorities recently might be deeply dangerous. Reports which rely on the professional caution of the EPA should not reassure anyone respecting drinking from the faucets in the county seat of San Joaquin County in the Central Valley of California. Especially not, in those areas serving people of color. The scorecard is in with regard to our not being able to trust the EPA.

Ideally, what is taught in the classroom should be coordinated with projects that are ongoing outside of academia. Today that is an urgent need, for Technology has taken over both realms, and its first cousin Science needs to be curbed along with it to a very significant degree at this juncture, not mindlessly cheered, allowing unquestioned “advances” to be financed by public funds which are sorely needed in immiserated communities across the country.

Science and Technology both enable our illegal War Machine to continue with its abominations, enabling all sorts of new highly undesirable developments. For every discipline, I could name many “advances” which reversed immediately, and I’ll be more than willing to delineate them, upon request. For now, though, I hope that what I’m saying will resonate sufficiently with readers for them to begin discussing the most obvious mistakes being made in academic realms, such as the carte blanche treatment vis-a-vis Big Pharma, and the momentum moving us toward an acceptance of NRA’s ideal scenario. Elaboration, upon request, but — again — those are just two of many areas I could delve into.

What really got me started on all this was witnessing all of the energy that was put into Stockton’s “March for Science” demonstration at a recent Earth Day celebration. An event that organizers would not permit me to address on Sunday; their generic Earth Day was something I was expecting, and I wanted very much to head off the dumbing down of the publiclocally; I knew that equally worrisome counterparts had been planned in various municipalities nationwide.

In the 70s, I was very active while teaching at Long Island University and New York Institute of Technology (mostly at the latter) in helping to bring about the Clean Air Act, which enabled us to regulate the amount of pollutants released into the air by mobile and stationary sources. I was equally involved in civic engagement respecting The Clean Water Act of 1972, which regulated the amount of wastewater expelled by industries and established quality standards for all surface waters. Ditto for the The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, which set standards to which all owners or operators of public water systems had to honor.

Thing is, that was LIFETIMES ago. Science, Technology and even the EPA were operating quite differently then. Now we cannot trust them whatsoever.

But though the definitive scorecard has been in on that count — for all three — for a long time, two of the main institutions of higher education located in Stockton (I don’t know enoughabout all of them at the moment) instruct students as if that scorecard is NOT in. Meaning, they are encouraging youngsters to have far too much faith in Science and Technology and all government agencies, as I write. The trust embraced is rarely, if ever, questioned.

So… what kind of education is that?

Everyone is too much on a treadmill these days to question anything. And I intend to do something about that, beginning in Stockton. Using the acronym SIT, I look forward to getting youth and others to sit down perhaps, and engage in the leisurely questioning of MANY things that are taken for granted. Some of which is threatening the lives of everyone.

With the contacts I made with wonderful people in and outside of academia today, I look forward to marching up the front steps of something called, let’s say, the Stockton Institute of Technology… where the truth about what’s going on will be on the table for discussion because the institution will be that rarest of birds in the realm. One that doesn’t seek or accept any financial support from Silicon Valley.

Richard Martin Oxman has been an educator on all levels worldwide for half a century, and an activist for longer than that. He can be reached at flanneryoconnoracademy@gmail.com. He plans to coordinate his activity at Flannery O’Connor Academy with SIT. And in both realms an attempt to stem the tide will be made, even if it’s with teaspoons… and imaginations employed like never before.

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