Archive | October, 2011

Good schools are relentless about basics: School day length

31 Oct

Rosalind Rossi, education reporter for the Chicago Sun Times is reporting in the article, 2011 Illinois school report cards: Top schools have longer days.

The 10 highest-ranking suburban neighborhood elementary schools all have longer days for kids than the typical Chicago public school — but shorter ones than those advocated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and city public school officials.

Chicago’s current typical 5-hour and 45-minute elementary school day — usually without a regular recess — looks paltry compared to a top-scoring 2011 suburban average of just under 6½ hours that includes daily recess, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis indicates.

However, Chicago’s proposed 7½-hour day would keep city elementary kids in school an hour more than their top-scoring suburban counterparts. Such a day is appealing even to some suburban parents.

http://www.suntimes.com/news/education/8452309-418/2011-illinois-school-report-cards-top-schools-have-longer-days.html

The Mid Continent Research for Education and Learning (McRel) has great information posted at its site about school day length.

According to McRel in the article, Extended School Days and School Years:

Does more time in school matter?

Several scholars have argued that simply extending school time in and of itself will not produce the desired results. Larry Cuban, a Stanford University professor of education, has argued for example that what matters most is not the quantity but the quality of time students and teachers spend together in the classroom (2008).

In our 2000 meta-analysis of the impact of school, teacher, and student-level variables on achievement, McREL concluded that student achievement can be strongly affected if schools optimize their use of instructional time.

In 1998 WestEd researchers Aronson et al. examined the research on time and learning and arrived at three conclusions:

  • There is little or no relationship between student achievement and the total number of days or hours students are required to attend school.
  • There is some relationship between achievement and engaged time, that subset of instructional time when students are participating in learning activities.
  • The strongest relationship exists between academic learning time and achievement.

However, in recent years some notable extended time initiatives have produced gains in test scores, graduation rates, and college attendance, including the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), which increases the amount of time students spend in school by nearly 60%, and Massachusetts 2020. Conversely, a $100 million effort in Miami to extend school days by one hour and add 10 days to the calendar produced no significant benefits.

http://www.mcrel.org/newsroom/hottopicExtendedTime.asp

The key seems to be longer time spent in instructional activities.

The Center for American Progress has an issues brief, Expanded Learning Time By the Numbers. Among the findings are:

Expanded learning time basics

655: The number of expanded learning time schools in 36 states, more than a quarter of which are standard district public schools.

300: The recommended minimum number of additional hours that schools should add to their school calendar to provide students more learning time and opportunities for enrichment activities.

6 to 20 percent: The increase in a school’s budget, depending on the staffing model, to expand learning time for students by 30 percent.

90 percent: The proportion of ELT schools that considered their longer day or year to be essential in meeting their educational goals in a survey of nearly 250 ELT schools.

20 percent: The increase in annual classroom hours that experienced teachers say they need to effectively teach the four core academic subjects—English language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science.

Other countries are racing ahead in education

197: The average number of days that a middle school teacher in Finland, Japan, and Korea spends on instruction per year compared to the 180 days in the United States.

10,000: The number of hours researchers estimate that students need to achieve expertise. There are approximately 800 annual instructional hours a year in U.S. schools, which means it would take 12.5 years for students to participate in 10,000 hours of schooling, given no loss of learning during the summer.

Students at low-income schools are being left behind

3,000: The average number of words in a low-income kindergartener’s vocabulary compared to the 20,000 in a middle-class kindergartener’s vocabulary.

Sixth or seventh: The grade at which approximately half of ninth graders at high-poverty schools are reading when they enter high school.

32 million: The size of the gap in word exposure between children in professional families (45 million words) and welfare families (13 million) that has accumulated by age 4. Children in professional families will have heard almost as many words by age 1 (11.2 million) as children in welfare families have heard by age 4 (13 million).

1.67: The average minutes per day that third, fourth, and fifth graders in high-poverty schools received explicit vocabulary instruction, or about 100 seconds.

Four: The maximum number of minutes per day teachers in low-income schools spent engaging their first-grade students with informational texts rich in academic language and content-area vocabulary, often because these resources were unavailable.

Expanded learning time and a focus on the basics can yield results.    

Dave E. Marcotte and Benjamin Hansen have an interesting report in Education Next about the effect of time in school. In Time for School? Marcotte and Hansen report:

Our work confirms that increasing instructional time could have large positive effects on learning gains. Encouraging schools and districts to view the school calendar as a tool in the effort to improve learning outcomes should be encouraged in both word and policy.

http://educationnext.org/time-for-school/

Research confirms there are certain traits of successful schools.

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Chapter 1, first line
Russian mystic & novelist (1828 – 1910)

So it is with schools. There are certain elements that successful schools share. The Wisconsin Department of Education has a good guide about successful schools. Chapter One, Characteristics of Successful Schools , lists key elements.

Like, unhappy families, failing schools are probably failing in their own way.

Resources:

Dave E. Marcotte and Benjamin Hansen , Time for School?Education Next, Winter 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 1

http://educationnext.org/time-for-school/

Education Secretary Arne Duncan on School Day’s Length video

http://video.answers.com/education-secretary-arne-duncan-on-school-days-length-516897086

It seems everything old becomes new once again, although a relentless focus on the basics never went out of style.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

The Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act balancing act

30 Oct

Schools all over the country are challenged by students who are violent, disruptive, and sometimes dangerous. Christine Clarridge, Seattle Times staff reporter reports in the Seattle Times article, Student-privacy laws complicate schools’ ability to prevent attacks which was about an unprovoked assault in a high school restroom which almost killed two students.

Five months before she allegedly attacked two schoolmates with a knife, nearly killing one, a Snohomish High School student underwent counseling after she threatened to kill another student’s boyfriend.

The 15-year-old Snohomish girl was allowed to return to school only after she presented proof she had attended counseling.

The earlier threats would have never been made public if the information wasn’t contained in court documents charging the girl with first-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault in last Monday’s attack.

Some Snohomish parents were surprised to learn of the earlier threat and have expressed concern that they weren’t notified.

But student information, including mental-health records, is tightly held by school districts because of federal privacy laws. The district says it cannot even discuss whether counselors or teachers were made aware of the earlier threats because of privacy laws.

The case underscores the delicate and complicated balancing act faced by schools in their efforts to meet the educational and privacy rights of individual students, as well as their need to ensure the safety of the larger student body.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2016643796_schoolsafety30m.html

There is a complex intertwining of laws which often prevent school officials from disclosing much about students.

According to Fact Sheet 29: Privacy in Education: Guide for Parents and Adult-Age Students,Revised September 2010 the major laws governing disclosure about student records are:

What are the major federal laws that govern the privacy of education records?

  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) 20 USC 1232g (1974)
  • Protection of Pupil’s Rights Amendments (PPRA) 20 USC 1232h (1978)
  • No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Pub. L. 107-110, 115 STAT. 1425 (January 2002)
  • USA Patriot Act, P.L. 107-56 (October 26, 2001)
  • Privacy Act of 1974, 5 USC Part I, Ch. 5, Subch. 11, Sec. 552
  • Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act (Pub. L. 106-386)

FERPA is the best known and most influential of the laws governing student privacy. Oversight and enforcement of FERPA rests with the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA has recently undergone some changes since the enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act and the USA Patriot Act….

https://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs29-education.htm

The key provisions of FERPA are:

FERPA is the best known and most influential of the laws governing student privacy. Oversight and enforcement of FERPA rests with the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA has recently undergone some changes since the enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act and the USA Patriot Act, discussed below.

What are the most important things to know about FERPA?

FERPA gives parents and adult-age students some rights to the privacy of the student education record. Under FERPA, adult-age students are those who have reached the age of 18 or who attend post-secondary school, even though not yet 18 years of age. For example, a 17-year-old who is enrolled in college would be considered “adult-age.”

The law provides:

  • The right of parents and adult-age students to inspect and receive a copy of student records.
  • The right to deny access to others, specifically those outside the school system, with some exceptions.
  • A process to correct errors, including a hearing.
  • The right to opt-out of military recruitment.
  • The right to opt-out of the disclosure of a student’s directory information.
  • A complaint process, handled by the Family Compliance Office of the U.S. Department of Education.

FERPA has some significant shortcomings:

  • It does not give individuals the right to sue the school. Only the U.S. Department of Education can sanction schools that have violated FERPA.
  • It puts the burden on students and parents to respond to opt-out opportunities, such as disclosure of directory information.
  • It does not dictate requirements for safeguarding education records.

The Family Compliance Office (FPCO) oversees FERPA. For more information about this law and the mission of this Office, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s Web site at www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/index.html. As part of its oversight duties, FPCO has adopted regulations that supplement FERPA.

The agency’s core regulations as well as major amendments adopted in December 2008 can be found on the office’s Web site at www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html. In addition, FPCO’s Web site provides guidance on various aspects of FERPA to students, parents, teachers and school administrators.

A key case describing the limitations of FERPA is The Chronicle of Higher Education vs. The United States, ELECTRONIC CITATION: 2002 FED App. 0213P (6th Cir.), UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT:

KARL S. FORESTER, District Judge. Intervening Defendant-Appellant The Chronicle of Higher Education (“The Chronicle“) contests the district court’s grant of summary judgment and subsequent permanent injunction in favor of Plaintiff-Appellee the United States. Specifically, the district court concluded that university disciplinary records were “educational records” as that term is defined in the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”), 20 U.S.C. § 1232g, and that releasing such records and the personally identifiable information contained therein constitutes a violation of the FERPA. The district court permanently enjoined the Defendants-Appellees Miami University and The Ohio State University (“Miami,” “Ohio State,” or collectively “Universities”) from releasing student disciplinary records or any “personally identifiable information” contained therein, except as otherwise expressly permitted under the FERPA. For the reasons that follow, we AFFIRM. [Emphasis Added]

School districts have to balance the rights of students to an education with the need to know of other parties.

School Policies and Legal Issues Supporting Safe Schools by Thomas Hutton and Kirk Bailey from the Hamilton Fish Institute on School and Community Violence put the issue of violence in schools in context and reviews the impact of federal regulation.

The discretion school officials have to disclose information about a student among themselves and to others is limited by the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).51 Generally speaking, under FERPA personal information that is contained in a student’s education records may not be disclosed without the parent’s consent. When the student reaches the age of 18, his or her consent is required instead, except for disclosures to the parent as long as the student remains a dependent of the parent under the Internal Revenue Code.52

Education records” is construed very broadly to cover most school records concerning a student, but several of the exceptions to the nondisclosure rule apply in safety-related situations and are described below. A private individual has no right to sue over an alleged FERPA violation; rather, the remedy is an enforcement action by the federal government. IDEA also includes privacy protections related to students with disabilities and special education that largely parallel those in FERPA….

gwired.gwu.edu/hamfish/merlin-cgi/p/downloadFile/d/…/legalpdf/

As the case in Snohomish County illustrates, sometimes the balance tips in favor of the troubled student to the detriment of everyone else.

Resources:

FERPA General Guidance for Students

http://ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/students.html

No Child Left Behind A Parents Guide

http://ed.gov/parents/academic/involve/nclbguide/parentsguide.pdf

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Why you should support ‘Operation Iraq-Afghanistan’

28 Oct

Moi doesn’t care how people feel about the various wars that are going on right now or the foreign policy. Men and women who serve in the armed forces of this country do not make foreign or diplomatic policy. They serve under the direction of the Commander In Chief and Congress. Many saw the military as a way for a steady paycheck and a way to improve their lives and the lives of their families. Since this country has gone to a voluntary military, many of those who now serve are men and women of color and low-income people of all colors.

First Focus is a bipartisan group who works to improve the well-being of children. According to the article, Our Military Families Under Fire by Bruce Lesley and Kate Sylvester which was posted at their site on November 22, 2010:

An entirely new category of children is in jeopardy – the 2 million children being raised in military families. As recently as a decade ago, child advocates could afford to ignore military children. After all, they are lucky enough to have at least one working parent; to live in decent housing; and to have health insurance.

But beyond these basics, experts remind us that many other factors can put children at risk for poor outcomes: experiencing family disruption; having a single parent; suffering from abuse or trauma; or having a parent who suffers from mental illness or substance use.

Sadly, these risk factors now apply to many military kids. Why? Because so many of their parents are young, near poor, and coping with serious stresses. Consider these facts:

More than one-third of first-time military parents are 21 or younger; most of their children are under age 5. And a growing number of military families – over 100,000 at last count – have two military parents or are headed by single parents.

Most of these young parents don’t make much money. Military pays starts at about $2,800 a month (including allowances for food and housing). In the families of junior service members that have only one working parent and more than one child, household incomes often fall below 200 percent of the federal poverty level – the benchmark that child advocates suggest puts families at risk.

Indeed, a significant portion of children attending Department of Defense schools qualify for receive free or reduced lunches and the most recent estimates about Earned Income Tax Credit indicated that 11.6% of military families were eligible to apply.

Finances are not the only stressors on military families. Multiple deployments mean that children face multiple separations from their parents. As Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a recent Veteran’s Day address, “If you took any 11-year-old or younger military child, it’s all they’ve known their whole lives.”

Research is just beginning to tell the story of what those family separations are costing military families.

http://www.firstfocus.net/news/reading-list/our-military-families-under-fire

Lesley and Sylvester link to additional research in their article:

The National Center for Children in Poverty

Military children are now classified as at risk for mental health problems along with children and youth in low-income households and those in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

The latest study on military children, published this month in the Journal Pediatrics, looked at more than a half million military children ages 3 to 8 whose parents were deployed. Researchers found that behavioral disorders, such as attention deficit disorder, increased 18%, and stress disorders, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) rose by 19% when parents were gone.

The separations take a toll on spouses too. Wives of soldiers sent to war suffer significantly higher rates of mental health issues than those whose husbands stayed home, according to a study on Army wives published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Because the U.S. has gone to a volunteer military to shoulder the burden of defending this country, that task has, in many instances, gone to people of color, the poor, and the unemployed. One of the groups helping to support our men and women in the military is Operation Iraq-Afghanistan: The Spirit of Christmas.

Here is a bit of information about Operation Iraq-Afghanistan: The Spirit of Christmas:

Founded in 2003, Operation Iraq-Afghanistan: The Spirit of Christmas began as a grass roots organization in Kirkland, WA. It was built out of the desire to provide support for our troops and show appreciation for those who sacrifice so much to protect our country, our homes and our families. We are supported entirely through the donations of time, merchandise and dollars from companies, organizations and individuals across the United States.

The care packages we send bring comfort to our troops in the field and consist of personal care items and products specifically requested by them that are not typically provided by the military. In the weeks prior to Thanksgiving, hundreds of volunteers come together to work countless hours collecting and assembling thousands of care packages that are shipped overseas for delivery to troops on Christmas Day. These items include everything from specialty food and personal hygiene items to magazines and CDs.

You can contact Operation Iraq-Afghanistan: The Spirit of Christmas:

Operation Iraq-Afghanistan: The Spirit of Christmas
PO Box 646
Kirkland, WA 98083
Phone: (425) 885-0796

http://operationiraq.org/about-us/

From time to time the organization will post a list of items needed. They also need volunteers to accomplish the mission. Please contact Operation Iraq-Afghanistan: The Spirit of Christmas if you can help in any way.

It really doesn’t matter what you feel about the foreign policy of this country. Either you are a stand-up guy and honor the commitment and sacrifice of our military men, women, and families or you are not. One way of standing-up for those sacrificing to keep us safe is to support Operation Iraq-Afghanistan: The Spirit of Christmas.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

3rd world America: College increasingly out of reach

27 Oct

Moi really doesn’t know what to make of the idea of privatizing state universities.  In the recent past, government had the goal of raising the standard of living and producing the economic conditions that fostered livable wage jobs. The goal of most politicians was to create the conditions that promoted and fostered a strong middle class. Particularly, after WWII and the Korean War, with the G.I Bill, one part of that equation was the wide availability of a college education. This push produced an educated workforce and a college education was within reach, no matter one’s class or social status. This educated workforce helped drive this country’s prosperity. Now, have we lost the goal of providing educational opportunity the widest number of people possible, no matter their class or social status? This question causes moi to wonder about privatizing state universities.

Sam Dillion was writing about the prospect of privatizing public universities in the New York Times in 2005. See, At Public Universities, Warnings of Privatization In 2004, William Symonds wrote an opinion piece in Business Week about the role of public universities 

Justin Pope, AP Education Writer details just how fast college costs are rising all over the country in the article, College prices up again as states slash budgets:

Average in-state tuition and fees at four-year public colleges rose an additional $631 this fall, or 8.3 percent, compared with a year ago.

Nationally, the cost of a full credit load has passed $8,000, an all-time high. Throw in room and board, and the average list price for a state school now runs more than $17,000 a year, according to the twin annual reports on college costs and student aid published Wednesday by the College Board.

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2097835,00.html

Prospective students and families will not only have to worry about getting into college, but finding a way to pay for college.

Beckie Supiano and Elyse Ashburn have written With New Lists, Federal Government Moves to Help Consumers and Prod Colleges to Limit Price Increases in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the Department of Education’s new site about college costs. The College Affordability and Transparency Center is useful for students who are applying to college.

More people are switching careers several times during their working career and that means that they must be retrained. Many students cannot afford a traditional four year college either in terms of cost or time spent away from home. Community colleges have always offered these students educational opportunity. KCBS radio in California has a report of the push by legislators to have community colleges in California offer four year degrees. In Community Colleges Pushed to Offer Four Year Degrees Melissa Culross reports….

There are two issues when community colleges offer four year degrees and they are increasing access to educational opportunities and the realities of budgetary constraints. Each college will have to decide whether offering four year degrees fit within the college mission and the needs of the individual community. See, Robert Franco’s The Civic Role of Community Colleges: Preparing Students for the Work of Democracy

Daniel de Vise has a great article in the Washington Post, 25 Ways to Reduce the Cost of College which reports online information from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.    

The question lawmakers should be asking themselves is why society developed public universities and do those reasons still exist? In the rush to get past this moment in time lawmakers may be destroying the very economic engine, which would drive this country out of the economic famine that currently exists. While tuition is increased for students, the pay of college administrators remains hefty. Administrators are in effect pigs at the trough and should come under some scrutiny. Of course, if the current public universities were privatized, we wouldn’t have to worry about pigs still at the trough or would we? In a totally privatized university environment, administrators could be paid what the market will allow or the regents can go wink, wink at. Wait, wasn’t unfettered pay one element in the U.S. financial meltdown?

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

The NCAA run meat market for ‘student’ athletes

26 Oct

The idea of recognizing that “student” athletes are really low-paid employees of colleges and apprentices in the billion dollar sports industry would force college administrators, parents, and athletes to face some very hard truths. The NCAA has compiled a probability chart which shows just how few student athletes have a realistic change of even being drafted to play professional sports and then go on to have a successful professional career. See, http://www.collegesportsscholarships.com/percentage-high-school-athletes-ncaa-college.htm

Moi has about as much chance of playing for a professional team as the average kid with dreams of sports stardom.

Jorge Castillo has an intriguing report in the New York Times about historian Taylor Branch’s Atlantic article. In After Leaving Football, a Historian Emerges as an N.C.A.A. Critic, Castillo reports:

The October issue of The Atlantic magazine featured a 14,000-word cover story by Branch titled “The Shame of College Sports.” Its focus was the N.C.A.A., and the thesis Branch presented was that the organization was little more than a sham, exploiting athletes in revenue sports like football and men’s basketball to make hundreds of millions of dollars while expounding the virtues of amateurism.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/26/sports/ncaafootball/historian-taylor-branch-delivers-critical-view-of-ncaa.html?emc=eta1

The problem is literally 1000s of starry eyed kids and in some instance, stage parents who are willing to do whatever for a slim chance and wealth and stardom. Add to this mix the big business system of agents, coaches, and colleges who want to stay on the good side of powerful alumni.

Brad Wolverton is reporting in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, NCAA to Consider Sweeping Changes in Athlete Aid and Eligibility Rules.

Billion-dollar TV deals and multimillion-dollar compensation packages for coaches have led to growing calls for paying athletes. While Mark A. Emmert, the NCAA’s president, refuses to go there, he supports the idea of giving athletes more money for travel and other incidentals, moving closer to covering their full cost of attendance. Median college costs at public universities exceed an athlete’s scholarship coverage by about $4,000, according to a recent USA Today analysis.

http://chronicle.com/article/NCAA-to-Consider-Sweeping/129483/

Contemplated changes seem to calculated to take the heat off the college sports industry.

It probably is not an accident that the same time proposed changes were publicized, the NCCA is releasing new graduate statistics, probably to bolster the idea that the “student” athlete reigns supreme. Collin Eaton is reporting in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, Athletes Continue to Graduate at Record Levels, NCAA Says.

Over all, more than two-thirds of the NCAA’s roughly 5,000 Division I teams reported graduation-success rates of 80 percent or higher, while fewer than 4 percent of teams reported rates of 50 percent or lower.

The NCAA uses its own formula to calculate the graduation-success rates of Division I athletes. The figures are different from the graduation rates calculated by the U.S. Department of Education. The NCAA statistics, unlike the federal ones, do not penalize institutions when athletes transfer to other colleges, as long as they depart in good academic standing. [Emphasis Added]

http://chronicle.com/article/Athletes-Continue-to-Graduate/129529/

Excuse moi for being a tad bit cynical. Were these kids helped or “helped?” Wink. Wink. If you know what moi means. Are these kids taking the classes and are they in the college majors which will give them a chance at life after competitive big money sports?

Most kids will never appear at the Final Four or Superbowl. For kids who possess extraordinary talent and desire to achieve at the top level of sports, of course nurture their talent and their desire. But, society and their families owe it to these kids to be honest about their chances and the fact that they need to prepare for a variety of outcomes.

Maybe it’s time to look at athletes as apprentices for the sports business. The question then becomes how to adequately compensate fodder for the big business, big money sports machine? Most of the kids who are part of the process will never see a payoff in sports. Maybe the compensation should be an education trust fund for college athletes so that when they are perhaps more mature and more realistic about career prospects, they have have the resources for a real education.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Seattle Schools Pledge of Allegiance flap: It’s all about ME

25 Oct

The world knows we do know how to save it. We — even we here — hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless. [Emphasis Added]

Abraham Lincoln

Annual Message to Congress — Concluding Remarks

http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/congress.htm

Washington, D.C.
December 1, 1862

Brian M. Rosenthal of the Seattle Times has written an excellent report in the Seattle Times about the recent recent flap involving whether students at John Stanford International School will be required to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Keep in mind that both Washington State law and Seattle School District policy require the saying of the Pledge. In, Pledge of Allegiance sparks controversy at John Stanford, Rosenthal quotes parent, Haley Sides:

When Haley Sides moved to Seattle after four years in the Air Force, she chose to settle in Wallingford so her 6-year-old daughter could attend John Stanford International School — an educational community promoting the same type of multiculturalism Sides has tried to instill in her half-Jamaican daughter.

Sides was outraged when the school’s new principal announced this week that students will be asked to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of each day. The practice, which has long been mandated by district policy and state law but has not traditionally been observed at John Stanford, will start Monday.

“It pains me to think that at a school that emphasizes thinking globally we would institute something that makes our children think that this country alone is where their allegiance lies,” said Sides, her voice oscillating between disappointment and anger. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2016575845_pledge22m.html

Well, excuse moi. Girlfriend, you happen to live in this country which still has the goal of educating children no matter their gender, race, or creed. In many countries YOUR daughter would not be afforded the opportunity to attend a primary school and college wouldn’t even be a consideration.

What do the remarks of President Lincoln have to do with the current flap involving the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance flap at John Stanford International School in Seattle? It is about developing the Common Good. Whether one believes the cause of the Civil War was to eliminate slavery or not, the war was fought to keep a fragile union in tact. In much of the world, tribes or clans are the governing authorities. Far from being an idyllic life governed by the romantic concept of the naïve of rule by “Noble Savages,” these clans and tribes often dispense brutal and harsh “justice.” See, Rosseau and the Noble Savage Myth: http://pages.uoregon.edu/jboland/rousseau.html Because of many disparate cultures, many countries are in the midst of civil wars or in danger of breaking apart.

It is fascinating to moi that so many of those who claim the other side is intolerant are just as intolerant. True tolerance does not involve giving up one’s beliefs or demanding that others sacrifice their beliefs. Sometimes it involves listening with courtesy to ideas that you will never agree with. Often it involves acting with gasp, decorum. This country is a nation of immigrants, some were the original aboriginal people, others voluntarily immigrated, still others were brought here as slaves and others fled their homes because of repression. We’re all here together. There have to be some common cultural norms so that those with different cultures and histories can peacefully co-exist. The U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and certain ideas which have evolved over time like public education are examples of the glue that can hold disparate groups together. The Pledge of Allegiance is another example of the common cultural experience. Of course, some quibble with the phrase, “Under God.” Let’s go back to the concept of tolerance. Dictionary. Com defines tolerance:

noun

1.

a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions,practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’sown;freedom from bigotry.

2.

a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own.

3.

interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one’s own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tolerance

The people who find the Pledge so intolerable probably would not have understand President Lincoln’s preservation of the “Union.” Unlike President Lincoln who understood the power of words and symbolism, for whom the “Union” was all about US. The permanently aggrieved often see the world in terms of ME.

In the final analysis, for many who are so excised by the Pledge, it is not about you or US, but it is about ME.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Who owns “Black”

23 Oct

Really, is anyone other than Tavis Smiley talking about poverty in America? See, the Poverty Tour  http://www.povertytour.smileyandwest.com/   Even President Obama only started saying Amen while he attempts to co-opt “Occupy Wall Street” in his bid to stay in the White House. The War on Poverty which was launched in 1964 has failed miserably. Here are some stats from the National Poverty Center:

Poverty rates for blacks and Hispanics greatly exceed the national average. In 2010, 27.4 percent of blacks and 26.6 percent of Hispanics were poor, compared to 9.9 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 12.1 percent of Asians.

Poverty rates are highest for families headed by single women, particularly if they are black or Hispanic. In 2010, 31.6 percent of households headed by single women were poor, while 15.8 percent of households headed by single men and 6.2 percent of married-couple households lived in poverty.    http://www.npc.umich.edu/poverty/

According to the National Poverty Center, the poverty rates for children are staggering:

Children Under 18 Living in Poverty, 2010

Category

Number (in thousands)

Percent

All children under 18

16, 401

22.0

White only, non-Hispanic

5,002

12.4

Black

4,817

38.2

Hispanic

6,110

35.0

Asian

547

13.6

 So moi was a bit surprised to read two recent articles which aimed their venom directly at GOP candidate, Herman Cain. Sandhya Somashekhar, writes in the Washington Post  article, For Herman Cain, no steering clear of race:    

Some African Americans have bristled at his tone, saying he is denigrating his race. Particularly controversial were his statements that many blacks were “brainwashed” into supporting the Democratic Party and that he did not believe that racism in this country still “holds anybody back in a big way.” 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/for-herman-cain-no-steering-clear-of-race/2011/10/17/gIQAdNkN4L_story.html

Still another article by Touré at Time blogs states, Is Herman Cain the Most Unctuous Black Man Alive? Why the Hermanator experience is making me sick.  http://ideas.time.com/2011/10/20/is-herman-cain-the-most-unctuous-black-man-alive/

What exactly is the hub bub about? For many years pols and others went to an anointed few to find out exactly what Black folks were thinking. There were always the Jacksons and the Sharptons that told folks what Black folks were thinking and told Black folks how they were supposed to vote. This system delivered big for establishment pols. Question? Given the stats from the National Center on Poverty, how’s that system been working for you, for me, or for anyone for that matter? One does not have to agree with Herman Cain to say that he has as much right as anyone to advance his ideas and question the status quo.

So, who owns “Black?” No one. No group. Just as those who acknowledge their African roots may have skin tones which range from ivory to ebony, yet all claim to be Black.  Black folks can have opinions which range from Tea Party to let’s tear this “mother” down.

All are Black with reason to be proud of a common heritage.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©