Over the weekend my wife and I watched a PBS special titled, Talking Black in America. It dealt with the untold number of African American dialects spoken in America and how it all came to be. I was especially impressed with how important language is in black history and culture and how versatile many are in switching back and forth between standard-English and African American English.
It reminded me of a time I was in a fast food line near the Mexican border and how the clerk had was so adept at switching between English and Spanish. My brain has never been that flexible.
In my lifetime been a witness to much of the efforts to weaken or eliminate segregation in America. Unfortunately, I’m now witness to the reemergence of those forces that contributed to American segregation in the first place. I came across this short video covering the highlights of post Civil War race relations and I think we all might benefit from a refresher course.
I attended Greenfield schools from 1st grade trough graduation. After 10 years away I returned as a member of the teaching staff in 1970, retiring in 1996. Except for 1 year teaching at a California high school, Greenfield is all I ever knew.
Greenfield schools, by design, are very open. There are many buildings and lots of exterior doors. In my 38 years of being on that campus as either a student or a teacher I can only recall two instances of a potential violent threat. I remember a student in the elementary grades building a bomb and placing it under a teacher’s desk. I don’t remember if the bomb was real or how knowledge of it was learned.
The second occasion took place immediately outside my classroom door when a student shot himself in the torso. At no time were other students in danger. The firearm was immediately sequestered and the student attended to.
I just read an article in the Lexington Herald Leader about Pike County, KY’s school board authorizing qualified teachers with concealed carry permits. As a retired teacher I am very opposed to teachers taking on the added responsibility of armed guards. There are many things that I find abhorrent about this but nothing bothers me as much as the level of training, skill, and fitness needed for the task.
We’ve all seen enough TV news about our infantry troops training for urban warfare. These professionals spend months and years honing the tactical skills needed. They are also required to maintain the highest level of physical fitness. They have to be strong, agile, and fast of foot. They also have to make instant life and death decisions. These are things not often found in America’s army of mild-mannered schoolmarms. Before teaching I worked jobs that demanded physical strength and endurance. Once I entered the classroom, however, I spent the next thirty years lifting sticks of chalk and passing out textbooks.
Think about the teachers you had in school and then go to YouTube and look at some videos about police and military tactical firearms training. Looking back over my career I can’t think of a single teacher, including myself, who should have been permitted to carry a weapon in the classroom.
One of the most controversial of Trump’s nominees was his appointment of ultra conservative, anti-public education, billionaire supporter of all things right-wing, Betsy DeVos. DeVos got through the confirmation process in spite of massive criticism from the public, teachers, teacher unions, and this old retired history teacher.
In one of her first actions she attempted to visit a public school in DC and was turned away by a crowd of protesters. She must have eventually sneaked in the back door because she reported having met with some of the teachers. The following is from her subsequent news release.
The included video was shot by students of the Radio and TV class at McClain High School in Greenfield, Ohio. McClain is where I graduated from and where I taught American History and Government for twenty-six years.
It was built for and gifted to the people of Greenfield by early twentieth century industrialist, Edward Lee McClain and literally is a one of a kind public school. In the late 1990s, when older public schools were being demolished and replaced with new modern facilities, the state of Ohio exempted McClain because of its historical importance.
The US Senate just made history for all the wrong reasons. For the first time ever the Vice President had to cast the deciding vote in a confirmation hearing. In this case Mike Pence broke the tie to award Betsy DeVos the position of Secretary of Education. A woman who has never attended a public school, whose children have never attended a public school, has no professional experience in education, and is highly opposed to public education. She and her family have donated over $200 million to Republican causes and guaranteed her success by heavily supporting the candidacy of a number of Republican US Senators. If any on the list below, or others, had broken ranks she would not have been confirmed. As an Ohioan I notice that our Senator Portman sold his vote for $51,000. Well, at least his vote cost more than Inhofe of Oklahoma.
Originally published on December 7, 2011. Republished here in honor of the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
70 years ago today a young man from Greenfield, OH survived and suffered from a tragedy that would forever mark his life and end the lives of so many of his friends ans shipmates. James Louis Wise, Seaman First Class, of Greenfield, was serving aboard the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii when the air forces of the Japanese Empire began their early Sunday morning bomb runs on the just arising soldiers and sailors of America’s military establishment in the Pacific. It would mark the beginning of America’s entry into the Second World War and a personal war Wise would deal with the rest of his life.
No one of my generation doesn’t know the significance of December 7, 1941. I hope such is true of today’s generation. Have a discussion with your kids today.
I’ve written lots of words, and read even more, about the ongoing Trail of Tears controversy. I’m going to try to make this the last blog I write on the subject and the topic is how to move it forward, how to help make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Based on what I’ve read in the local newspapers the school’s path forward is to take a couple of class periods and teach the story of the forceful removal of Indians during the early 1800s. This was ordered by president Andrew Jackson, in defiance of a Supreme Court order, and resulted in the tragic deaths of thousands of Eastern Native-Americans.
Additionally the cheerleaders involved met with Hillsboro’s cheerleaders where an apology was offered.
Since it’s been a long time since I knew for sure what was being taught by McClain’s Social Studies Department so I made some enquiries. To my pleasure I discovered that both US History (10th grade) and US Government (11th grade) are still being taught on a two-semester basis. World History is also being taught at the 9th grade level for two-semesters. Two electives, Psychology and Ancient History, are offered for a full year during the 11th and 12th years.
According to an article appearing in the local newspapers the Greenfield Board of Education will meet at 5:30 pm in the board meeting room . The purpose of the meeting is to hear the superintendent’s recommendation to terminate the employment of long-term cheerleader advisor, Patty Shelton. My wife and I are planning to attend the meeting and hope to see a large number of area residents also in attendance. I intend to ask permission to address the board prior to any decision but just incase such isn’t permitted I am publishing this list of notes I would like considered and discussed in open session before any decision is made.
NOTES ON TRAIL OF TEARS
November 4, 2016
1. The controversy that gave rise to this meeting has nothing to do with an act of malice. It is a result of innocent ignorance on the part of both the adviser and the cheerleaders.
2. The underlying factors are many and don’t exclude the leadership and staff of Greenfield Schools. What programs have you in place that teach sensitivity, empathy, and tolerance for America’s diversity?
3. From the beginning I, and many others, have seen this as being an opportunity to educate and not as an opportunity to lay blame and go head hunting.
I’m going to wade into waters that some of you won’t find sweet enough. For a long time it’s been generally accepted that conservatives are not as empathetic as liberals. You won’t find this carved on any of the stones Moses brought down from the mountain but it is a generally accepted truth.
Certainly you’re aware that conservatives like to call liberals, bleeding hearts or crybabies. I once heard a conservative comic say that, “When a man is down the best way to get him up is to kick him.” When a liberal takes exception to that thought they are looked down on as being a bunch of gullible mamby-pambies. Many believe reaching out and offering the hand of government weakens individual self determination and makes people wards of government and not self-sufficient individuals.
Just read an article about the current and continuing “crisis” in education. It is claimed that almost every school district in America is facing a severe shortage of qualified teachers. The culprits are retirement and other forms of attrition, low pay, job stresses, and the public’s attitude about education.
When I first considered teaching in the early 1960s demand outstripped supply and I liked knowing I could go most anyplace and find a position. I liked the idea of having that flexibility. I also liked knowing I’d have from Memorial Day to Labor Day to pursue other interest.
Of course neither of those are as true today as back then. There are lots of jobs but they tend to be in science, math, and special education, and in inner-city school districts. People in math and science can earn much more by taking their skills into industry rather than education. Summer break isn’t what it once was. The school year has been lengthened and today many schools commonly don’t let out until sometime in June and then resume classes around the middle of August. Of course salaries have been adjusted but not always fairly.