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Some samples: • In September 2008, James Meeks, a Baptist minister and state senator, organized an impressive act of activism. He led a boycott of Chicago Public Schools by nearly 1,000 students and instead bused them to two affluent North Shore schools. His purpose was to show the differences in funding and quality of education in the schools in different areas of Illinois. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, “In a funding system fueled largely by local property taxes, New Trier Township spent nearly $17,000 per student in 2005-06 and Sunset Ridge spent about $16,000, while Chicago Public Schools spent an estimated $10,400 per pupil.” A post by Paul Tough at highlighted just how good New Trier Township High School is, calling it “a public school with four orchestras, a rowing club, a course in ‘kinetic wellness,’ and AP (Advanced Placement) classes in French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Latin, and Chinese.” The students from Chicago Public Schools were mainly black, while the students in New Trier Township High School were mainly white. Mr. Meeks said, “If they can call an emergency session for capital projects, they can call an emergency session to deal with education. This is human capital. This is a 30-year problem, the system of funding education.” 2) At Ponce de Leon High School in Holmes County, Florida, some students taunted a senior because she was a lesbian. She asked a teacher’s aide for help, the teacher’s aide informed principal David Davis, and Mr. Davis told the student that it was wrong to be gay, and he informed her parents that their daughter was a lesbian—her father wanted to kick her out. Other students wanted to show support for the lesbian student, so they started wearing gay-friendly T-shirts and started writing “Gay Pride” on their bodies. The principal responded by banning these forms of free speech. A brave heterosexual student, Heather Gillman, who has a lesbian cousin, responded by writing the school board, which backed up the principal’s ban on free speech. She then sued the school board. Federal Judge Richard Smoak, a Republican appointee, came to the rescue, and in the 2008 court case Gillman vs. School Board for Holmes County, he stated, “The robust exchange of political ideas is essential in a vibrant, progressive society and is precisely the type of speech that is sacrosanct under the First Amendment.” The ban on free speech was lifted at Ponce de Leon High School in Holmes County, Florida. In fact, the judge ruled, “Defendants are ordered to take such affirmative steps necessary to remediate the past restraints of the expression of the support for respect, equal treatment and acceptance of homosexuals, including but not limited to notifying in writing the Ponce de Leon High School student body and the middle school students and school officials within Holmes County school district that students are permitted to express support for, respect, equal treatment and fair acceptance of homosexuals….” 3) Patrick Henry advocated the independence of America from the rule of Great Britain. On March 23, 1775, he made a famous speech that ended, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” The ending words so resonated with the American spirit that some soldiers had the words “LIBERTY OR DEATH” put on their uniforms. Such speeches also earned Mr. Henry the nickname “Son of Thunder.” (Some anecdotes are thought provoking rather than funny.)

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