Tag Archives: EDUCATION

Mississippi; what’s wrong with it?

If your state is possibly the poorest, least educated, most conservative state in the nation; well, that’s what’s wrong with it. It also doesn’t help if your state’s flag still includes a version of the Confederate flag. Having too many of the people portrayed in the attached video also doesn’t speak well.

I’ve been to Mississippi many times and things are slowly changing. The state and local governments have done some amazing things in creating a blues and music based tourist economy. But despite the steps forward there are too many people who would take it back to the pre civil rights era. Mississippi’s overwhelming support of Donald Trump is a strong statement to this.

Couple of years ago I heard a black Mississippi judge speak of the new Mississippi. The fact that he was black and a judge speaks to things new. Unfortunately there’s too much old in Mississippi.

Teachers With Guns? WTF!

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.

Guns and What I Won’t Do

When I was a kid my uncle Homer owned a single shot, bolt-action, J.C. Penny .22 rifle. I would often borrow it and go “plinking” at a trash dump on Wolf Rd. Firing the weapon required opening the chamber with the bolt lever, inserting a cartridge, closing the chamber, and cocking the rifle by pulling back a firing pin mechanism. Very simple, very reliable, very accurate, and very very slow.

Some years ago I traded for a Remington semi-automatic .22 rifle with a tubular magazine that held maybe 10 rounds of long-rifle ammo. The rifle required one trigger pull per round but you could very rapidly empty the magazine. Reloading was pretty slow, nothing like ripping out an empty clip and slamming a full one in.
I’m not sure I ever fired this weapon and later gave it to my grandson along with a .22 nine round revolving target pistol.

When I was in the Navy, and later the Air Force Reserves, I got to fire a variety of weapons and became “qualified” with a couple of pistols. I fired a Garand M1 rifle, a Browning BAR, a Thompson sub-machine gun, a 38 pistol along with a .45 semi-automatic pistol. In boot camp I carried a Springfield 1903 five shot bolt-action rifle. The only one I ever actually fired was a rental I used for my one and only deer hunting experience. My boot camp 1903 didn’t even have a firing pin and the barrel may have been plugged.

I currently own a single shot .16 gauge shotgun and two revolver pistols and though I know how to use them I am not practiced.

I say all this to demonstrate that I’m not firearms ignorant and I’m not opposed to owning guns, hunting, and shooting sports. I basically support the 2nd Amendment but strongly believe, as does the Supreme Court, that it comes with limits. Government has the right to restrict many aspects of gun use and ownership. This said, however, the NRA and other groups deny the Founding Fathers meant there should be limits. They radically oppose any limits on all things gun related.

In the past few years I have wrestled with my feelings about the most controversial of all guns, the AR-15 and I’ve finally arrived at a conclusion. These “assault style” weapons are no different from the simple .22 semi-automatic I gave my grandson. You could go to a gun shop and buy the gun I gave my grandson and fewer critics would complain. But you buy that same weapon made to look like a military rifle it immediately gets labeled an assault rifle and the critics go nuts. The real difference between the civilian and the military weapons is the rate of fire. The military version has a firing option the civilian doesn’t; it can fire (depending on the model) in full-automatic or burst-automatic. Burst function lets the rifle fire three rounds with each pull of the trigger. Full-automatic will fire as long as you hold the trigger in or until you shot all the bullets. The civilian versions are legal to buy, own, and use. The military versions are mostly illegal.

These are some of the basic facts we all need to be aware of. But, in the words of Paul Harvey there is a “rest of the story.” The truth is that any semi-automatic weapon, pistol or rifle, is deadlier than single-shots because they have a much higher rate of fire. In the time it took me to shoot my uncles J.C. Higgins and reload, a ten-round semi-automatic could easily have ten bullets in the air. They could also be reloaded in less time than with my uncle’s gun.

I’m going to make a major compromise with the gun crowd and publicly state that I won’t support a ban on any gun that is currently legal. I won’t support the government coming to your door and defrocking you of your manhood unless there is reason to think you’ve broken a law. But, here’s what I won’t do:

  • I won’t support the NRA in any way as long as they remain the radical organization they have become. When the ammosexuals decide they are ready to give up protecting the sale of cop-killer ammo and arming the insane, maybe we can begin talking.
  • I won’t support the current loopholes in gun registration and sales. I demand that thorough background checks take place on each and every gun sale in the nation, even private sales. Private sales would have to go through a licensed broker who would perform the background check.
  • I won’t support the current manufacturer and sale of any device that increases a weapon’s rate of fire. Example the bump stock that was used by the Las Vegas shooter to turn his AR-15 into a fully automatic weapon.
  • I know it is controversial but I won’t support any legislation that bars the registration of all firearms.
    I won’t support any legislation that bans waiting periods before buying a gun.
  • I will not support the continued ownership of any clip or magazine that holds more than ten rounds of ammunition. All such devices should be totally outlawed and all violations should carry a heavy penalty. General George Patton called the Garand M1 the best weapon of war ever invented. It was the rifle that won WWII, it was a semi-automatic, and it only held eight rounds. With a ten round clip a person can target shoot, hunt, protect their families, and partly get their testosterone fueled rocks off. And unfortunately, they can still wipe out a school hallway.
  • I won’t support the sale of any firearm or ammunition via the mail or the Internet.
  • I won’t oppose reasonable legislation that limits the amount of ammunition one can purchase.
  • I won’t support the increase of age to buy a gun. I will always believe that if being eighteen is enough for voting and military service it should be enough to buy a beer or a gun. Turning eighteen should come with all the rights of an adult.
  • I won’t support any decision to permit people with mental issues, a history of violence, a history of serious crime, and other issues that may threaten the public safety to purchase or possess a firearm.
  • I won’t support the arming of teachers. These people want to be educators and mentors to the young, not armed guards. As a retired teacher I’ve tried to imagine myself as a fit thirty year old with a weapon. Regardless of training I can’t help but think of all the things that would make that a bad idea. I doubt I could pull the trigger on a student without some delay or hesitation that would only worsen the situation. After all, if four trained sheriff deputies in Parkland, FL couldn’t do it, what makes me think the caring and loving English teacher, Ms. Jones, could do it?

This is my list at time of writing. It is subject to be added to and/or amended. I believe, however, that this is a list of sensible and reasonable gun laws. It doesn’t take away a “good person’s” gun but together it does relieve what I believe the worst truths about guns in America…there are simply too many guns and they are far too easy to acquire.

Oh, one more item for the list…I won’t vote for any politician, regardless of party, who disagrees with me and/or accepts money from the firearms industry or the NRA!

The Time for Protest

Many of you know I’m a huge fan of Playing for Change. The effort to bring the world’s people together through the universal language of music. I cut my liberal teeth on the protest music of the 1950s and 60s and PforP just today released a new video containing a y. If ever the need for continued protest was appropriate, this is it.

Enjoy, pat your feet, clap your hands, and then somehow join the resistance movement. We have a long way to go!

A Thought For Betsy DeVos & Friends

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. 

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Ignorance May be Bliss But it Can Bite Your Butt!

I love it when ignorance comes home to bite people on the butt cheek. Such is becoming a frequent reality as the truth of the Trump campaign promises unfold. One example is that 35% of Americans don’t know that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Obamacare are the exact same things. Same thing, different names. Ironically lots of  those who supported the conservative right favored the ACA but were dead set opposed to Obamacare.

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Video Tour of McClain High School

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.

Yes, We Have No Checks & Balances

Most people have heard that power corrupts and it isn’t just an old wives tale, power really does corrupt. Knowing that, the founding fathers drew up a Constitutional form of government that included several ways to attempt limiting power and the abuse that comes with it.

Click to enlarge!

They established three branches giving each several ways to override the others. They depended on rivalry and jealousness to create a competition for power between the three branches. They created a bicameral or two house legislature as a means of making law more difficult. They created an independent judicial system that is free of political pressure and serves for life. That judicial system has the power to review law and decide what is or is not permitted by the Constitution. That means the courts can overturn actions by the president and the congress that it finds in violation. The president is the chief enforcer of law and can chose which laws to vigorously enforce or which to pay little attention to. And, of course, the president has the power of veto. All this together is referred to as America’s system of checks and balances and it’s pretty much kept us from autocratic tyranny for two-hundred and forty years.

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Vote for Sale, Vote for Sale, Get your Vote Here!

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.

Remembering Pearl Harbor and James Louis Wise

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.

USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

No More Memes, Please

political-memeA meme is a, “humorous image, video, piece of text, etc. that is copied (often with variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users,” that in today’s Internet world is almost impossible to avoid.

Memes are what substitutes for independent thought and the ability to openly express one’s thoughts. Memes are those never-ending pictures that show up on social media and frequently inaccurately express some political statement or make a false historical claim.

If you have twenty-five Facebook friends at least one of them does little other than post memes on their account page. They almost never write or express anything that came from their own thoughts and creativity.

Al Gore and Mark Zuckerberg gave us all the means to communicate with each other but failed to give us the communicative ability to do so. Recognizing that, Richard Dawkins gave us the meme. Dawkins was an evolutionary biologists and probably realized many of humankind had evolved as far as they were going to go and needed a lift. Thus the meme.

Sittin’ Here Thinkin’ About Riots

Sitting here reading the bitches and complaints from those who really don’t like it when Americans exercise their rights to protest. My conclusion is that there can be a million person march against racism and if one guy sets fire to a garbage can the bitchers and moaners instantly label the whole event a riot of morons, goons, and unpatriotic thugs.

Anyway it got me thinking about an anti-war protest I took part in back in the 60s. It went without incident but many of the protest marches and demonstrations of that era didn’t. Especially following the killing of four students at Kent State in Ohio. Cal-State Fullerton, where I was just finishing my degree, wasn’t immune from it. Most were peaceful but one, on February 9, 1970, turned ugly.

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Open Letter from Greenfield Cutler-Konneker Scholars

November 14, 2016

To members of the Greenfield School Board and Community,

Our names are Madison Foltz, Rachel Onusko, Ryan Kline, and Makenzie Olaker, and we are proud alumni of McClain High School. Currently, we attend Ohio University as Cutler Scholars thanks to the overwhelming generosity of Will and Ann Lee Konneker and the continuous support of the Greenfield community.

With recent events that have happened in our beloved hometown, we feel that not sharing this letter would do an injustice to the values instilled in us by the town of Greenfield. These values include integrity, community, grit, and growth. While it would be much easier to stay silent, we have learned that staying silent also means staying apathetic. If we are apathetic and do not share our voices, then the investment that Will Konneker and the Greenfield Community has made in us becomes worthless and wasteful.

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