Tag Archives: education

What’s In a Name?

9 Sep

The High School in which I was a teacher for 31 years always offered a course in the study of The Holocaust. The town in which the high school was located had a long and rich history that included many Jewish residents and visitors and so this particular course touched upon a subject that was both near and dear to the hearts of those who lived and worked and taught within the town.

But of course the importance of teaching such a course was to instruct all of the students and residents of the town that such a horrible atrocity could never be forgotten and that this monstrous injustice could occur somewhere else and at some other time to any group of people and anywhere within our world where people did not remain vigilant or were willing to forget or disbelieve that humans could ever treat other humans with such cold cruelty.

And of course the corner stone of the course, if you will, was always the phrase: “Never forget”. We must never forget what happened in the Germany of WWII lest an atrocity of similar horror happen again.

And so over the years the course was taught, and as fate would have it, over the years our classes, students and public school community gradually changed complexion until one day I was listening in when a young African American student, looking a bit bored with the lecture, raised his hand and said, “Who cares about this. What about slavery?” as many of the other students of color began to mutter their agreement.

And I will never forget what the teacher’s response was…and this is going to sound like I’m making it up although I swear to you, on my honor, that I am not…

The teacher’s response was: “Son, that was a long time ago. You’re going to have to forget about that and move on with your life or you’ll end up going nowhere.”

And that is why The Washington Redskins need to change their name! And Daniel Snyder, the Washington team’s owner, should know better…especially than to say to USA Today and the world…”We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”

Because Never is a word you use…when you forget.

 

Apocalyptic Apptitude

8 Aug

 

Today I received this Email message from a Republican website.

Dear Patriot,

There is a huge, hushed-up conspiracy that will wipe out 281 Million Americans in the next 6 months.The media has been forbidden to report anything about it. But at this very moment, the final part of this sinister agenda is being carried out…

…and this will bring God’s Judgement onto America.

But for 37 dollars you can buy the book that will explain how to survive it! And of course this disaster is going to happen because of President Obama and his sinister administration…

But seriously, why would you buy this man’s book or believe that the information in his book could help you survive over 90% of America’s population being wiped out! And why is he so avidly trying to sell books to raise money for a future where money will be useless? Hmmmmmmmm? NOT TO MENTION: 90% of America’s population is going to be wiped out!!! With only Republicans like you left???

It just begs the question: Who will do the cleanup???…Doesn’t it?

I used to love watching Jimmy Swaggart and Tammy Fay and Jim Bakker raise all of that money by trying to help other folks get into heaven. You’d send them all of your hard earned money to help ensure your future in paradise and they’d spend all of that same money on earthly desires like cheap whores, mascara and jewelry…and hardly anyone ever saw the irony.

This is where I like to think that a good education comes in handy. Read! Think! Question! Observe! Think critically!

And even if you consider yourself to be more of a spiritual person rather than an erudite one, and would rather ask yourself what Jesus would do, then by all means be my guest…Jesus may sacrifice himself to save your immortal soul but he would never, never, ever …ask you for money for a book on how he was going to do it.

Now would he?

 

Supreme Beings

16 May

When you think about it, the Supreme Court of the United States has been quite busy reforming the way we do business in this country by helping to re-interpret our Constitution and prepare it for the 21st century.

In the last few years they have declared corporations to have the same rights as human beings, free to speak by spending unlimited amounts of money to support their corporate interests. The humans who work for them are now also allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money in support of their favorite candidates who can then legislate with those corporations best interests in mind. You and I of course as lesser beings of the new century are also free to spend as much money as we want on our favorite candidates who will have our human interests in mind.

After all that’s what freedom is all about isn’t it?

The Supreme court has also determined that voter’s rights and affirmative action regulations no longer serve any purpose within our society because human beings have grown in character and thought and risen above the petty emotions and primitive thinking that once ruled our every day affairs. Because here in the new century humans have evolved beyond the need of regulatory government.

And in their most recent decision these Supreme justices have ruled that prayer can now be allowed at government meetings and no longer do we the people of the United States need to worry about separating our government from our religion but not because we all share the same common religious beliefs but because, as Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority opinion, “Prayers offered at a town council meeting are ceremonial and in keeping with the nation’s traditions.”

So here we have it. At the dawn of the new millennium, Corporations are people, Money is speech, Humanity has conquered emotion and Religion is but ritual ceremony… because…as near as I can figure…and as our Supreme magistrates have, in their infinite wisdom, apparently ascertained…

We mortals are now on our own… and God…officially at least…

is dead.

 

 

 

Hunger Games?

9 May

Tonight is one of the most exciting nights of the year for NFL teams and their fans and not one game will be played.

It’s the night of the exciting and nail biting NFL draft where thousands of NFL fans will gather around to wait, sit and then watch as 32, billion dollar NFL team franchises, select a few dozen elite college football players, who will then go on to sign contracts averaging about 5 million dollars per year…for as long as they can remain healthy and in one physical piece that is…

It can be quite touching and emotional to watch as NFL experts wax poetic and pontificate as to which team will draft which player while the clock ticks between each highly anticipated selection…and then to watch the young football players overcome with genuine emotion as they realize that their selection as one of the top NFL draft picks this year means instant fame and fortune for themselves and their immediate families…

And yet these “college students” have each already spent 4 years representing United States colleges and universities that have earned millions and millions and millions and millions of dollars in their name while they, the players and performers, have not been allowed to earn even one penny. Instead they have each been compensated with a college education from an educational institution that most probably didn’t even require their attending class…much.

Because sadly but all too true, The percentage of college football players who graduate prior to going to the NFL is only…27%… and while many will go on to graduate after their playing days are over, still less than 50% will ever see a college diploma.

But even more disturbing than that is the fact that these athletes, while playing college football on autumn Saturdays throughout America, do so in front of millions of fellow college students who now owe over 1 trillion dollars in student loans to the very same institutions that have been making billions of dollars peddling their athletic peers as entertainment.

So College students owe colleges over 1 trillion dollars while College athletes who play in front of college students and the public for colleges, are paid no dollars and colleges and professional institutions who broadcast and promote those college games to their students and the general public earn billions and billions of dollars!?

And did you know that The National Football League is a non-profit organization that takes in more than $9.5 billion per year and is exempt from Federal taxes – yet it stands as one of the greatest profit-generating commercial advertising, entertainment and media enterprises ever created… And most Colleges and Universities in the United States are not for profit institutions.

So who gets all the money? And what do students and student athletes get…besides broken bank accounts, broken bones and broken (concussed) brains? And how long can this “American higher educational model” be sustained under our country’s current economic conditions?

Any thoughts? We still have 15 minutes until the next pick…

 

We Won’t Get Fooled Again…We Hope

2 Apr

When you’re a teacher, the hardest day of the year is always the first day of school…but the second most difficult day of the year, as far as I was concerned, was always April Fools Day. That was always the day when your students seemed to feel that they would be immune from punishment for whatever ridiculous and silly prank they could think up, so you always had to be on the lookout for your April fools. Woe to the teacher who did not keep track of the day and date and know what day it was!

I would always check ahead on the calendar and hope that April first fell on a Saturday or Sunday or perhaps even Spring break…but of course there was always the “sick day” that hopefully one had available just in case your particular pool of students that year was more fool-ish than friendly…

So here’s to all of you teachers out there and hoping that your day today was a good one…and also fool free!

Charter Charlatans?

27 Mar

If you live in the NYC area then you know that newly elected mayor, Bill DiBlasio, is working to fulfill a campaign pledge to charge rent to charter schools. The mayor said he wants to charge rent based on how much a school can afford to pay, and he also wants to slow or perhaps even stop the continued growth of the NYC charter school movement so that more focus can be brought back to the public schools. Naturally the charter schools are up in arms over this proposal because charter schools receive rent-free space in city buildings even though they are privately run.

During Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure, Money for charter schools increased from $32 million to $659 million and what was once a modest collection of 17 charter schools has now expanded to 159 charter schools within the city…and overall the NYC education budget has almost doubled to 25 billion dollars from the 13 billion dollars that was being spent when mayor Bloomberg took office.

But the city charter schools, along with receiving free rent from the city also raise quite a lot of money from the private sector including large donations from “philanthropists” like the Waltons of Wal-Mart fame, and the hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones, along with other prominent Wall Street tycoons, (You probably remember them from the great financial crash of 2008)… Anyway, That’s how Success Academy Charter Schools’ chief executive officer, Eva Moskowitz. can make nearly $500,000 a year to run only 22 “non-profit” schools.

That’s also how Mayor DiBlasio can be opposed by a “nonprofit” charter advocacy group called Families for Excellent Schools. They have organized rallies in Albany, created an internet website and spent 3.6 million dollars on commercials that can be seen constantly throughout the day on television here in the tri-state area. Charter school political action committees have even donated more than 100 thousand dollars to NY Governor Cuomo and other NY state politicians.

So is it a surprise that The Governor says that he is now “Excited” about charter school growth and that Mayor Di Blasio is now beginning to step away from his hardline campaign stance against charter schools?

Isn’t it amazing what money can do? Teachers and educators have always known that money makes a difference when it comes to your child’s education. Can your public schools use its public money to advertise in favor of the public school budget? Do your public schools have 3.6 million dollars that they don’t need for educating your children, to use for creating commercials to “convince” local politicians and influence you to support their efforts in passing the public school budget, let alone raising the school budget?

Money matters! And one has to ask why billionaires are so interested in paying large sums of money in order to gain control of and advertise for the privatization of the public schools in our country… What’s in it for them? And most importantly, what do you think is really in it for you and your children? In the short term privatization always looks good, especially when there is a multimillion dollar ad campaign to help you to try and make up your mind.

But in the long run? Just ask yourself this: When have Wal-Mart, Wall Street tycoons and billionaires ever been interested in spending money on the poorer classes of this country…except when it leads to greater class exploitation and increased profits for themselves?

 

 

 

 

The Icebergs Cometh

23 Mar

Here is another word for you: Glaciologist: One who studies glaciers or ice

And not in a bar-tending kind of way but rather in a global warming way, as in glaciers, climate change and ice melt!

Apparently, according to glaciologists, there is some startling news! The North Pole is melting! And not in a slow, “oh no someone left the freezer door slightly ajar” kind of way but rather in a “ding dong the wicked witch is dead”, kind of way…

Because Greenland is now a lot greener than it used to be and is losing ice at the rate of 30+ feet per year. Just imagine 30 feet of solid ice melting. And that’s just this year because the ice is not melting at a constant rate but rather at a rate that is accelerating every year, so whatever predictions the glaciologists make based upon today’s melt rate, they have to be revisited every year and updated.

And even though folks around the world continue to debate the scientific merits of global warming and whether or not mankind has anything to do with it (rather than just God’s love) the glaciologists have absolutely no doubt that we are to blame. And why is that?…Because the ice in Greenland is black. And why is that?… Because the black color is from the soot that has settled all over it, making it melt at at even faster rate…and soot of course is not a heavenly substance but rather a consequence of fossil fuel burning by God’s most beloved and favored of creatures…us.

But don’t despair! It’s not too late! All we have to do is cut our worldwide carbon emissions by 85%!

But wouldn’t you know…we’re increasing worldwide carbon emissions every year. And as soon as 2 and a half billion people in China and India really get their economies going…we’ll really start to do some cooking…both literally and…literally!

So don’t buy beach property! Rent instead. And tell your grandchildren to move inland or to higher ground and if they are already there, tell them to expect neighbors, and lots of them,  because by the end of this century…or sooner… 80 out of 100 coastal cities in the world will be under water…and not in a good way like some futuristic Jules Verne kind of way but rather in a “glub, glub” kind of way.

Of course giant, moveable, and super expensive sea walls could be constructed to protect our cities but when you consider that most world cities contain a much greater portion of poverty as compared to wealth I’m betting that most of the wealth is just going to vote to move elsewhere…what do you think?

Anyway, there’s still some time and science could be wrong but who would you believe? Someone who has studied hard and dedicated his life to obtain a degree in Glaciology and who has seen and is studying ice melt with their own eyes… or rather someone who has studied hard to become a politician or an evangelist and who says, “Don’t worry about it” or “Let us pray”??

Maybe Noah’s Ark wasn’t a history lesson but rather a prophesy? In any event, when the iceberg cometh, ask not for whom the ice was ordered. It cometh with room service…for thee!

 

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