Resolved: to Raise a Voice in the New Year

New Years Resolutions: a tired practice, I know. Though it may be a threadbare annual ritual that fails so many of us after the first few weeks of making it, perhaps 2012’s resolutions will be more likely kept if we make them in service of public discourse. When you’re trying to keep a promise, not just to your own waistline by getting into an exercise routine, or to your own lungs by quitting smoking, but to the wider world by contributing your very expert insights, perhaps you’ll be better at keeping it. Perhaps, too, the power of our resolutions will be strengthened by the inspiration of the many successes that our Public Voices Fellowship scholars celebrated along with the holidays in December.

In December, Greg Acevedo of the Graduate School of Social Services at Fordham published a fantastic piece in the Huffington Post, “Somehow…Someday!…” , about Puerto Rico and how self determination on the island is still being hindered by the United States. After a century-long relationship in which the U.S. has verged on imperialist and Puerto Rico has become, in Acevedo’s words, a “colony lite,” many people still don’t understand how much of a role the U.S. plays in Puerto Rico’s “smoke-and-mirrors ‘democracy.'” Give it a read.

Also in December, Leslie Gerwin of Princeton University published her first op-ed of the program on CNN.Opinion. Her piece “Why we’re not prepared for a flu pandemic”  discusses the role that politics plays in vaccination. Her choice to focus on the convergence of politics and public health is essential to understanding the 2009-10 flu pandemic, as well as preparing for the crises yet to come.

On January 5th PBS Need to Know ran a great piece by Noliwe Rooks, also of the Princeton program, entitled “Reframing the debate over charter schools.”  In her op-ed she discusses the media and policy attention that was paid to charter schools in 2011, specifically how, in most of the coverage, the complexities behind the success and failure of the institutions weren’t portrayed. Her recommendation to focus on representing and replicating the education models that have been empirically successful is one that opens the conversation on education in 2012 with intelligence and wisdom. Congrats Noliwe!

To those scholars who published in 2011, we are grateful for your knowledge and commend you for your fearlessness in going on the record for the benefit of us all. To those who have various gems in the works: don’t let them idle on your laptop screens forever! The 2012 world needs your voices as much as ever. So, let’s all resolve to write, and let’s keep this resolution.

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