Half a Book

schoolbookOn September 11, 2001, our country became united in fighting terrorism. When the nation was told about the threat of "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq, we approved President Bush's attack on Saddam Hussein. We were told repeatedly that Saddam was a threat to our national security, and that we were eradicating the threat of terrorism.

It is almost a year later and no "weapons of mass destruction" have been found. With many casualties among both American soldiers and Iraqi civilians, people are questioning whether or not military occupation is necessary.

The war is going to last much longer than we were initially told. It is very expensive and Americans are being asked to make many unforeseen sacrifices such as deep cuts into social programs. With many states and the federal government facing deficits, and with $87 billion allocated for Iraq, many people have changed their mind on supporting the war.

The cost of making Iraq a democratic nation is infringing on the educational system in America. Money does not grow on trees and many school districts, colleges and universities will receive less funding this year.

Students at my school have become cynical about the military because they believe that the government is using the war as an excuse to not fund education. Some school districts have a shortage of supplies, textbooks, and proper teaching staff. At the public school I attend, students use a trigonometry book that is literally cut in half. How can this help students with learning? How can we be given half a book in a nation as rich as America?

At my school students oppose the war because of what it stands for. We view the war on terrorism as a war of corporate greed, destruction, death, and power -- it's another money grab for the rich corporations and their shareholders. Corporations will receive 20.3 billion dollars to rebuild Iraq (New York Times, October 16, 2003). And as of last fall, Halliburton, the company at which Vice President Dick Cheney used to be CEO, had received two billion dollars (NCTimes.com, September 30, 2003). That's money that should be going to our nation's schools.

In addition, many corporations, including Halliburton, have found numerous loopholes that help them avoid paying taxes ("Pigs in the Trough" by Arianna Huffington). If corporations paid their fair share of taxes, many districts could afford better equipment, supplies and teachers. I think the stockholders and the executives should fight on the front lines themselves -- or at the very least send their children to fight in this war.

The money allocated ($87 billion) to fight the war on terrorism cannot be justified, because my school and many others throughout the nation lack basic necessities. My fellow students and I feel the money should have been invested in students like us, who are the future taxpayers of America.

During the 2002-2003 school year my school district started sending the military vital information about juniors and seniors such as our phone number, e-mail address, home address, age, sex and race -- information that is obtained from the emergency cards that students submit at the beginning of the school year.

The district also sent waiver forms to students' homes, where they could opt to have the schools not send information to the military. Failure to respond to this form could cause your information to be sent to the government. I am alarmed this year because the form has come to my home twice. Does this mean the school district lost the original form? What are precautions to insure they do not make a mistake on sending the wrong information?

My friends and I declined to have our vital information sent because we don't feel that the government has done enough for our school, therefore, we do not want to help the government. Why should we risk our lives to defend a nation that will not even buy us proper books to learn?

Jennifer Johnson Adeyemi is a staff writer at WireTap.
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