Archive | January, 2011

We Are Funny People

30 Jan

We are absolutely hysterical and most times we do not mean to be. 

Let’s take a look at our morning-selves.  What’s up with that hair?  Some of us must sleep like we endure a night-long noogie–and the noogie won.  I don’t know about you, the reader, but my hair is greasy in the mornings.  I sort of resemble Ebenezer Scrooge, with it sticking out all over the place.   It is reminiscent of an enlarged kernel of popped corn.  Kind of smells like that too, so I am told.  But I wouldn’t know. 

When we had cats, they used to run and hide under the couch.  Poor things.  Looking back, now I know those guttural “meows” were for a reason.

I’d swear that “al’olio” was invented between the hours of 5:00 am and 7:00 am.  Why waste good oil!

We bite our nails to stubs.  Who cares about dirt.  We pick at our feet.  We slam plastics and wads of cotton in our ear canals, and sneeze like some creature about to enter extinction.  Since this is a family blog, I will keep it above-board.  But we are funny creatures. 

How many of us have relatives who eat noisily?  Grunts, heavy breaths, and moans that would make even the hungriest of dogs envious over gnawing their bones.  Then there are those who chew with the same sounds made by clothes-washers.  Those of us who talk with food in our mouths have not mastered the art of multi-tasking.  Burps and other-world nebulosities add smiles to our faces–but not to the faces of others.  And what the heck is “Hey, pull my finger,” anyway?  I had a grandfather whose gait was in step with the cadence of his flatulence.  I remember holding his hand while walking, and peeking behind us for the mouse that was supposedly following us.

Oh my goodness.  My dad used to tell the same jokes over-and-over again.  Do you know anyone who laughs at his own jokes?  Now I find myself doing the same thing.  I miss dad.  He sure could snore.  Mom talked in her sleep and dad snored like a buzz saw.  I won’t tell you which of these I do.  But add walking in my sleep to the mix, also.  Do you have anyone in the family that holds conversations in their sleep?  Nothing is sacred around this house. 

May I ask why older people scream into cell phones?  The party-lines and switchboards are all long-gone.  And who else takes all the soaps and shampoos, and even the shoe-shine kits from hotels?  Hmmmm?  We throw those suckers into our suitcases like we’re really getting away something.  Yeah, we are proud of ourselves.  We are so funny.

Men, why do we part our hair right above our ears, anyway?  Why not use our backhairs, or the long ear hairs to comb over the top?  That’s what God gave them to us for, isn’t it?  I have to think that women love long nose hairs, all dripping with morning dew.  Yep!  We are some weird creatures.  We pick our teeth, rub crust from our eyes, squeegee our ears, and shift, grab, and twist most everything else.  We cannot avoid looking in windows to catch our reflections.  As I write this, I am laughing out loud.  Yeah, I am one of the weirder ones–and proud of it.  I wear gym shorts and tee shorts in the winter.  I don’t wear those black sox and white shoes yet.  Holding onto those so I’ll have them when they come back into style. 

My students call me weird.  I say thanks for the compliment.  At my age any attention is good.  They stare.  I smile.  They shake their heads.  I dance and ask them to join me.  They run as if they’ve seen some creepy creature driving the local ice cream truck.  See what I mean? 

We lose everything we own.  Keys, glasses, papers, more keys, and we misplace mail.  Admit it.  You have asked where your glasses were, while they were on your head.  Come on!  ADMIT IT!  Women carry purses that qualify on carry-on baggage for United and American.  What the heck is in there?  No, never mind.  We do not want to know.  Save it for TSA and the evening news. 

Everything from our tastes in food, entertainment, clothing, body art and piercing, beliefs and practices, traditions and phrases–you name it!  We are just plain funny.  Our autos change even the most genteel into aggressive daredevils.  I was flipped-off by a lady I though was about 80 years old.  At least I though she flipped me the bird.  It might have been arthritis that froze her finger in the upright position.  I was too busy laughing to ask her. 

Then we have cutesy names for people.  We made up nicknames for animals too.  We even have names for body parts–those that still work and those that do not.  We suck in our bellies and throw out our chests, depending on gender.  Some of us have both enhanced, fixed, raised, lowered, you name it. 

You know what?  All things considered, I am all right with being human.  Sure, I have greasy hair in the mornings and breath that needs help.  Yeah, my body and face have changed over the years and I need masks every day now, instead of every three days.  But being human fits me well.  I find humor in most things in life.  When I get to thinking ill about myself, or get a bit down over this or that.  I just spend time looking at your pages.  I come away feeling much better about myself.  HAHHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA   Just kidding with you all.

The funniest thing about people is that we are people.  Can I get an Amen?

P.S.  God, I need to have a little talk with You one day.  What’s up with these bowed legs and varicosities?  And do you think the spiders might want their veins back?  I’ve had them long enough.

Education Salvation?: PLCs, CFAs and Other Soup

29 Jan

“The renovation of nations begins always at the top, among the reflective members of the State, and spreads a lowly outward and downward.  The teachers of this country, one may say, have its future in their hands.”  [William James (1907), Talks to Teachers on Psychology, p. 3]

“Inevitably, a theory (stated above by James) of such radical conditioning requires that power, however used, always emanate from the top down.  Thus James called the school, not common or public schools, but . . . the State school system.”  [Rousas Rushdoony (1976), The Messianic Character of American Education, p. 112]

This blog is not about seeking Superman.  It is not about becoming Superman.  This blog is not even about putting on a cape.  Beyond a moment, there is not enough motivational rhetoric that can convince mere humans of the need to be something other than what they are in their own strengths.  Despite all the pressures placed on schools, teachers are not the social saviors of the futures of children.  Education is not the salvation of our nation.  Teachers are not the saviors of a generation, but both are complementary and quite valuable.

“We teach children, not subjects!”  (Carol Cummings, 1990, Teaching Makes A Difference, p. 13)

Educational fads are not the saviors and cures for what ails education today.  New programs are really nothing new.  Those of us who have been around while have seen fads come and go.  But wait!  We’re told this fad is here to stay and that it is not going away ever!  Education is not a fad.  It is not gimmickry and results-oriented only.  Education is first and foremost about people.  It always has been and always will be.  This is the reason I choose to be part of this so-called profession.

We are part of the problem, though.  All of us share in the problems that have led to the problems in education.  One of the major reasons that education is in such a mess in public schools is because the bureaucrats and secularists have made certain that schools cater to children.  Schools have done more than support families, as they have done in the past.  We are being told now that schools are the places where students are raised, fed, and patted on the head for a job well done.

Last year, 2009-2010, we were told about the merits of the PLC and how it could help students test scores.  This year we are being motivated by psychology and “moral purpose,” to stay the course.   But to this point, Fullan writes:  “The argument is somewhat subtle, so let me make it more direct.  If concerns for making a difference remain at the one-to-one and classroom level, it cannot be done.  An additional component is required.  Making a difference, must be done explicitly recast in broader social and moral terms.”  (p. 11)

Schools know what to do to raise test scores:  Give assessments along the way.  Teach to the assessments to ensure good results, and we conclude that students learn.  Tomorrow, do it again.  Along the way, Caucasian teachers are now being told that they do not understand the cultures of students of color and that it is the white dominant culture that needs to understand, change, and accept responsibility for the past discrimination.  Teachers are being told that we are the heroes of kids and that we touch the future.  We are being prodded to learn what motivates students and touch that part of their educational lives.  How in the world did we go from a professional learning community to motivational experts in human development to saviors of the system?  Schools are not the places to experiment with all sorts of things to simply raise test scores and graduation rates.  Moral purpose comes from home.  It is where teachers learned it.  It suddenly does not appear from thin air, or at graduation for a teacher-training institution.

Things Have Changed

Schools that have to raise children will never be the places of higher learning and achievement they need to be.  Things have changed.  In over thirty years in education I have seen so many changes in schools and families.  Families that entrust schools to raise their kids will never be the bastions against negative culture that they need to be.  I suggest working together with the majority of the emphasis on children at home.  If children are supposed to be the focus for us at school, then I ask these same children be the same focus at home.  Parents, they are YOUR kids, after all.

The old gray mare,
She ain’t what she used to be
Ain’t what she used to be,
Ain’t what she used to be
The old gray mare,
She ain’t what she used to be
Many long years ago. (Anonymous)

Just yesterday, I, along with 1700 other teachers and administrators, were subject to the following topics in required seminars (see me own sarcasm in parentheses that follow each:

  • Is education good enough for “your own child” principle?  (I’d ask if the children’s home lives were good enough for my own child.  What is fair is fair.)
  • What if we teach like we really mean it?  (How many of us are just there for a check?  I don’t know any in my sphere.  What if students were raised by parents that meant it?  What if students studied and acted responsibly as if they meant it?)
  • Norms of a meeting are extremely important and groups should hold each other accountable.  (Norms police, but we don’t dare do that to the students who truly need policing.)
  • Collaboration is a systematic process in which we work together interdependently . . . (A process established by whom?  “Are Schools, departments, and local “professionals” already knowledgeable and are they free to establish them?)
  • Focus on results more than process.  (But we are supposed to touch the future.)
  • Dream a Dream and be a kid’s hero.  (I am a hero to my own children and family and that is my first priority.)
  • Ensure that all of our students learn at high levels.  (There is no way possible to do this.  Students miss school.  Families do not ensure what it takes to work together to achieve this.)
  • Impart confidence to students.  (They have to choose confidence, take risks to grow it, and demonstrate it.  I can only model it.  I cannot impart anything as a human to another human who must choose to own it.)
  • Analyze small and formative assessments (Pieces demonstrate memory for the moment.  Real learning without using linkages from days past is only piecemeal)
  • Do all things similarly in pacing, decide what knowledge is important, use same tests to measure these.  (Cookie-cutter education, replicating from an autocrat removes what is probably best for students at any given time.  No two groups are the same, so the pacing might very well be different.  If pacing is different then so too are the tests. Students are all different and cannot be assumed to think the same way about facts and content.  If a student “thinks” and comes up with a wrong answer, if he penalized for not “knowing” the right answer?)
  • Teachers determine the weather in each classroom.  (True to some extent.)
  • Motivate discouraged students.  (Motivation is momentary.  Relationships last well into the future.  People who are not coaches are being asked to motivate?  Think about a football team that did not want to play.  What could a coach do to motivate the players against their wills?)
  • Do whatever it takes and approach work like it’s a religious experience.  (If I could, it would be moral, spiritual, consequential, and purposeful.  So, is “one nation under God” all right to use?”)
  • How would we rate our own personal intelligence?  (Psychology to identify with students.  No one thinks they are below average)
  • How do we respond to students who do not care?  (We care.)
  • Build strong relationships with all students.  (Impossible to do in 50 minutes a day, with over 40 per class.)
  • Changing mind sets.  (I can change no one.)
  • Think like a mediator.  (Why?  I am a teacher.)
  • The 100-point, A-F grading scale is flawed.  (Just because someone says so?)
  • Use standards-based grading.  (Why?  Is there nothing else a student should learn?)
  • Create quality instruction.  (No, never!  Everyone I know creates crap and teaches it thusly.)

Families Need Help

Families are not doing their jobs at home.  Is it any wonder that schools can do theirs?  Look at this list.  Schools and teachers are working harder and harder, with less and less return on their work.  Children are coming to our schools with serious and deep concerns.  If schools were just failing, that would be one thing.  But there is a decline in the American family structure and it is little wonder that this decline is seen in the children of these same failing families.  Where is that in the list?  Instead, we are supposed to find ways to go around the real issues that affect our classrooms.  Schools represent communities.  Are schools meant to be the places “of” community?  Solid families have solid values.  A family that values education is obvious.  Families are looking to schools for help today, unlike in generations of the past.  I implore families to stay together until their children are raised.  Place personal gratification on the back burner.  You expect teachers to center on your kids, yet you don’t convey that they are as important by chasing personal desires.

Whom Do We Believe?

If we are to believe the media, then adults are more concerned about their sexuality and orientations than they are about the effects their revelations have on the families.  If we are to believe the children we teach, then parents are more concerned about their personal relationships than they are making sure homework is finished.  If we are to believe the state, then millions of non-English speaking illegals are receiving all sorts of tax-payer funded entitlements.

The truth is that students come to school unprepared in many places across this nation.  Families are frightened in inner cities just to let their children go to schools.  These things are not the schools’ fault.  How does one even talk about a “professional learning community,” in terms of academics with so much community-at-large baggage?

There is no teacher and no school that can make up the deficit that exists in communities such as these.  Families make up communities.  Men and women have children.  Children have children.  Families break up.  Abusive relationships, along with addictions and cultural cycles mark educational terrain across this land.  Whose responsibility is it to ensure the success of a child?  What professions are stepping up to ensure such success?  President Obama wants “Win the Future.”  But is winning the future with such a diverse and heterogeneous population just more rhetoric?  China, Japan, and Korea are quite homogeneous and place the teacher in roles that are quite unlike where teachers are in America.  Where the student is front and center, and not the teacher, what is the result?  I went into teaching to do just that.

Schools are expected to teach students by somehow meeting the needs that are best met by families, minus the discipline and self-control that are required for adulthood.  How in the world can students learn these very important traits, if they are not being modeled at home, and we are forbidden by law to do what is truly necessary to endure their occur in the classroom?  How can we inculcate and motivate beyond cultural differences, when we are told to celebrate cultural differences?

Teaching right from wrong is supplanted by secularism.  Judeo-Christian ethics are replaced with “it’s all about the child-centered environment” of self, and not love your neighbor as yourself.  Cultural differences breeding loud-mouth kids that back-talk and show belligerence–all while being told teachers don’t understand and appreciate certain cultures–press things beyond the pale.   Generally, students show disrespect for adults, they use language that, at one time, would get them expelled, come from families that have been taught to “tolerate and mediate,” rather than discipline, and own a host of “technological toys” that are their rights to use as they see fit.  Contemporary pop-culture impacts students more than classrooms and teachers.    Teachers know all of these things and yet we are told that we are responsible to make sure students learn and that they learn at rates that show marked improvement.  Does anyone ever stop to ask us what is needed?

I Never Give Up!

Please note very clearly that I love my work, I love my students and hold the highest of affection for my colleagues and the school where I am employed.  This is not about one or two localized issues, or schools in the inner city.  There are real battle zones in this nation, that’s for sure.  No place is perfect and as long as I am anywhere in this world, imperfection will be the norm.  But make no mistake about it; I will never give up on anyone.   I am not alone.  However, this is about so much more that those that care and refuse to give up.

“The Building block is the moral purpose of the individual teacher.  Scratch a good teacher and you will find a moral purpose.” [Michael Fullan (1992), Change Forces, p. 10.]

What’s It All About?

It is no great secret that I have spent my entire working career in the field of education, in various positions.  Most of my years have been spent in secondary education, with adjunct work at university a close second to that.  However, I have taught every grade level from first grade through graduate school, in my tenure as an educator.  I have been privileged to have spent time in both private Christian and public schools.  I have a vast array of education experiences, personally and professionally.  Although I feel somewhat qualified to address common issues across the national landscape, I always keep in mind that experts are labeled by others, not selves.  Be that as it may and take it for what it is worth.  I am about to embark on a serious critique of my “profession,” so-called.  Such a critique is not the first and it certainly will not be the last.

We have many problems in our nation today, and education is just one of many.  Problems are not the same at all levels of education, so a one-size fits all is not the answer for what ails of national’s education system.  But, unlike other areas, education affects children and adults, families and friends, and touches the present with implications for the future.  Education is essentially about people and always has been about people.  I am afraid that today’s brand of education is becoming less about people and more about people as a “product,” and “new-and-improved” commodity to refine into a better product, all supposedly measurable by a formulaic process.  So, this is about the latest educational fad to come down the turnpike.

The Professional Learning Community

A professional learning community is made up of team members who regularly collaborate toward continued improvement in meeting  learner needs through a shared curricular-focused vision.  Facilitating these efforts are:

  • Supportive leadership and structural conditions,
  • Collective challenging, questioning, and reflecting on team-designed lessons and institutional practices/experiences and
  • Team decisions on essential learning outcomes and intervention/enrichment activities based on results of common formative student assessments.

In education today there is a movement sweeping this nation that is top-down, autocratic, and uncompromising in its expectations and foisting of requirements.  We are being told in education that this model is the only way to get students to where they need to be.  Elementary, middle and high school districts are adopting this model.  There is also great resistance to this model–particularly at colleges where there is a movement toward professional development schools, in teacher education training institutions.

Has anyone stopped to ask whether education is a profession, or not?  Has anyone ever stopped to consider who decides what is to be learned at schools, and why someone’s notion of community is better than someone else’s’ notion of the same?  Consider Fullan, as he writes about “change” in education:

. . . the old and dead wrong paradigm is still being promulgated, such as Beckhard and Pritchard’s (1992) recommendations for vision-driven change.  There are four key aspects, they say:  creating and setting the vision; communicating the vision; building commitment to the vision, and organizing people and what they do so that they are aligned to the vision.  (p. 29)

Fullan describes the PLC phenomenon quite well in his words above and he describes such a model as “dead wrong.”  After adopting the PLC model, districts are told to adopt others models to massage into the previous model.  RTI (Response To Intervention), ILPs (Incentive Laden Programs), CAHSEE and SAT Prep and tutorial programs, etc., are all safety nets for a variety of students.  It is all about passing a test to raise rates.  In some states, there are tests being administered to students that do not match their grade levels, so as to enable passing rates.  This is not sensible.  Students are coming to us with a host of problems never seen before, yet test scores rising is an indication that our school is “performing” well?

May we please step back and ask some serious questions?  I know the “powers-that-be” get their way, but we do have a responsibility to question validity.  In all of my years in education, I know without a doubt that programs come and programs go.  I also know that not one idea or “revelation” fits all schools in all states at all levels.  Would anyone want to dispute those pieces of knowledge?  I doubt it.

Some states are adopting the education model in question, others are not.  Leaders are raking in millions of dollars writing books and training the masses in things they have always done, yet somehow it is all brand new.  Administrators are the ones who always seem to present at seminars.  Teachers are never asked to present.  I have my reasons as to why this is the case.  One of these reasons is that teachers view hierarchies from the bottom up, and work together.  Administrators in the PLC have already said it is top-down requirements that work.  Think for a second.  How professional is it to tell teachers it is all about their importance, require them to make it all about student learning, and do not live them a say as to whether they wish to be lock-step in such a “community”?

Colleges are not concerned with the PLC model, as it does not fit their “style,” of education to their students.  So, what do students benefit from when they go to college and realize that testing is not the measure of their learning and that from one year to the next is suddenly is not all about them?  Many high schools do not like this model, as it is quite restrictive.  As a secondary educator, an education expert with a Ph.D. in teaching and learning, I have serious reservations and major concerns with the “Professional Learning Community” model.

Concerns With The Professional Learning Community Model

I ask one question at the front of this section.  If bureaucrats removed annual test scores, or NCLB went away–or teachers did away with conventional grades in favor standards’ achievements, what then do we make of the PLC phenomenon?

We are told that the teacher is the most important person in the classroom and in the lives of students.  We are told this, yet education is all about the student, student-centered this-and-that.  Student learning is important–so much so that if they do not learn, it is our fault, as teachers.  I find this ludicrous.  Is it the coaches fault when the quarterback did not learn his plays, or throws an interception?  How about when the quarterback knows everything and is the best athlete, but gets sacked by a better team’s defense?  What is the conclusion then?

What I really think rhetoricians mean by their double-speak is this:  Teachers are the most important person in the classroom and this importance is demonstrated by their environment that caters completely to student-centered learning.  Teaching is not the focus, student learning is the focus.  Silly teacher that I am.  I thought both were important and came with responsibilities implicit in both.  But the responsibility placed upon the teacher is greater.

I cannot hold tardy students accountable for work.  I cannot hold absent students accountable for work if their parents excuse them for a trip to an amusement park on a school day.  I cannot hold students accountable for their lack of attendance in class.  Suspended students must be able to make up work, even if the reason they were suspended was a refusal to comply in one of my classes.  You know, it’s all well and good that people say the most important person in the classroom is the teacher, but it is not the truth here in California.

In California, we are legally responsible to educate so many illegals that it is no wonder the budget is a mess every year.  Education is just one of the many entitlements that illegals receive.  Governor Brown has threatened to cut education to the bone, reduce our incomes, and affect our pensions if we do not vote in favor of increased taxes this next election cycle.  So, as illegals sit in our classes and receive all of the benefits of American citizens, including mandated foreign language communications, conferences, and many other perquisites, does anyone want to argue it is all about the student?

Would anyone please point to another profession that gives transportation to illegals, feeds them at no-cost, or little cost to them, and provides text books, allows them to participate in athletics, graduate, and occupy seats in colleges, buy homes, etc.?  If you say medicine or law, then the state pays for these considerations as well.  It only adds to the problems.

I am not against people in any way.  Legal status is the issue.  There is no teaching strategy that can overcome students going to Mexico for 6-weeks just because family wants to.  There is no legal accountability for students whose families keep them home, excuse them from school for a variety of reasons.  So, please do not even imply that the most important person in the classroom is the teacher.  The student is the most important.  Students do not even remember what we teach them the next week, let alone the next year.  But there sure remember their dances and games, the jokes and social fun times.  It is all about them.

Along comes this professional learning community and tries to sell us a bill of goods that teachers are the focus.  Just look at the name of this fad.  Why is it not named “professional teaching community”?  We are professional educators, or professional learners?  Student learning is what it is all about.  Boiling student learning all down to a test, or series of tests called common formative assessments, is the focus.  And if a student does not do well on tests, he or she can take them as many times as needed.  In addition, we are all supposed to consider changing our current grading system because Yale University came up with it many years ago and it is unfair to students.

Teaching People

Teachers teach people.  Students are taught by people.  Who is directly responsible for the learning?  Right now, it is teachers who are directly responsible for the learning.  Annual test scores have to show improvement or the community thinks the teacher, or school is “bad,” or underperforming.  The state sets parameters of growth and targets of this growth.  If schools do not hit these targets, then can they be considered as underperforming?  Teachers and schools take the hit for students who underperform.


We were told that students should be able to test the “essentials” as often as then need in order to pass.  We were told that this places the learner first, and is the way it is in the real world.  Learning does not present itself on multiple choice tests, or in one-to-five questions every session.  Many times second chances are not offered.  Failure occurs. Success occurs.  We are late on bills and we are most often fined when we are caught speeding.  I teach high school, so this “retaking” concept is viewed a bit different than it would be viewed by elementary teachers.  Brain development and human biology will both play differently into the picture.

I have a serious beef about tests.  I had this discussion with a colleague who said that a teammate wrote a serious of tests in language he used, rather than in language the rest of used.  Good luck coming to a consensus on language for assessments and questions.  Add to this the possible answers and everything can be confusing.  Can you see how a teacher’s style of teaching, use of terminology, and style of thinking, can cause others who take the test great concerns?  It is not true that students who know material can answer pretty much any question on the way it is worded.  All students are different and such outcomes can cause teachers to think students do not know the material, all while they do.

Another point to be made is that I have absolutely no idea whether students have learned material, by getting the right answer on a multiple choice test.  I learn by asking students in person, or as they explain on paper, something I ask them about.  Common formative assessments are too often in multiple choice, easy-grading format.  Then the data is tallied, discussed, and many times we conclude something about which we speculate and other times have no idea.  Giving all students the same test, after the same length of time of learning, and concluding they learned something is way too risky.  I contend all students are not common, even if the information is.  I contend they all test differently, and that real-life does not throw the same tests at everyone on the same day to provide learning opportunities.  Colleges do not do this, and we are doing a disservice to high school seniors especially, if we do not wean them from the CFA (common formative assessment) quick-approach.


Students drop out for a variety of reasons.  The numbers change according to certain ethnic and racial groups.  I will use California for the sake of discussion.  Observe the following recent data:

Comparing Dropout Rates Chart

Type 2006-07 2007-08
African American 35.8% 34.7%
Asian 9.0% 8.4%
Latino 26.7% 25.5%
White 13.3% 12.2%

Tracking California Students Chart

Type Percentage
Graduates 68.1%**
Dropouts 20.1%
Other*** 11.8%
Total 100.0%

Beyond PLCs, we are now being told that unless there is a program of intervention for students, that our school and PLC is coming up short.  It is not enough to endure student learning.  We must now directly intervene to make certain of school attendance, assure every effort possible to enhance student achievement, improve graduation rates and reduce dropout rates, and a bevy of other “social” awareness.  What is not a centerpiece is that the groups in trouble need to step up and do their part, as well.  Regardless of race and ethnicity, dropout rates are problematic.  But can I ask the magical question:  Where is it written that everyone should finish high school and go off to college?  If parents do not seem to care enough about their students, and teachers do as much as possible–and STILL dropout rates remain high, what are schools to do?  Is it the school’s fault?  Is it the student’s fault?  Is it the community’s fault?  There are many factors for student’s dropping out of school.  For a large group of them, I think the sitting in rows model just isn’t their thing.  For others, gangs are alternatives.  I could go on.  But what does an intervention program and a PLC have to do with students making choices, at the legal age and without parental guidance?  Should we spend more time on those who learn and want to learn? I am just asking the questions.  PLC/Intervention groups now want to burden schools to ensure that kids graduate, as well as learn.  Where the parents are and what shall they graduate to?  Colleges do not care one iota about the group that high schools lose every year.  The work force does not care.  Families do not seem to care.  I submit that something has to be done way earlier than at secondary levels.

Some Other PLC Concerns

  1. PLCs cannot change poor attendance habits by students.  Absences and cuts drag down entire classes and reduce overall learning.  This show up on each and every assessment.
  2. PLCs cannot force student to do anything against their wills.  Students today are soft when it comes to studying.
  3. PLCs cannot change family dynamics for students.
  4. PLCs cannot work all that well across content areas, as standards at the secondary level and grade levels are not consistent.
  5. PLCs cannot convince colleagues of certain temperaments to buckle down simply by enforcing norms.
  6. PLCs cannot expect that using previous data of old adequately informs instruction for new students.
  7. PLCs cannot expect that test results actually indicate what students learn or did not learn.

Good Things About PLCs

  1. PLCs force colleagues to meet with each other and participate in discussions.
  2. PLCs use data, attempting to analyze problem areas and issues across schools.
  3. PLCs can assist toward changing instruction for the better, if a student group is identified as below proficient.
  4. PLCs enable colleagues to become better at writing common formative assessments.
  5. PLCs promote team-oneness across content areas and bolsters academic purpose.

In closing, I offer the following terms for consideration:  For Teachers . . . Practical and Relevant Teaching Community.  For Students:  Purposeful and Responsible Learning Community.  For Parents:  Hold You All Accountable Community.  Psychology as it is, moving anyone from the “I choose not to do something, ” to “I choose to do something,” is no small matter.  Owning the choice after it is made is another story altogether.

“The future ain’t what is used to be.”  (Yogi Berra)


28 Jan

“There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds.”  (Alfred Lord Tennyson)

Humans are set apart from animals in many ways and one of these ways is the fact that we question.  We question everything.  Sometimes questions imply doubt.  Other times, we claim to ask out of pure intellectual honesty.  In fact, the very nature of the word, “question,” has shifted from its mooring as a noun and is now used much more as a verb.  We humans think we are something special, don’t we?  I’ve done that very thing in this blog, haven’t I?

Humans are desperately curious creatures.  “I wonder if what the serpent said about this fruit is really true, and I will be like God if I eat it.  Let me find out.”  (Eve, the EZ translation)

It has been said that curiosity killed the cat.  One of the earliest versions of this proverb in print is from The Galveston Daily News, 1898:  “Curiosity killed a Thomas cat.”  Meow!

We question for more reasons than curiosity, but let us begin with this.  There is something about the unknown that presses us forward into making choices to question.  I maintain this is a gift from God, in that we are always seeking to learn more of the present unknown.  But is learning more, is there not a danger of thinking too highly of oneself?  There are times when questioning has gone over the edge into all sorts of evils, in my opinion.  But this blog is not about those.

I love cats.

Their sense of fearless curiosity is amazing.  I wonder who is more curious, males or females.  See what I mean?  We humans only have one life.  Lucky cats!  🙂  Talk about curiosity?

Yes, we question for reasons other than curiosity, don’t we?  We question to find agreement with others–just as I did in the opening question of this statement.

We question to justify our preconceived ideas, whether true or not.  “You and I both know there is no such thing as truth, right?”  We want others to validate what we think is already true.

We question to discover hurtful things to use against people.  “Did you know that Ernie was  . . . ”

We question to be able to compare ourselves to others, possibly making ourselves feel better.  “Mary looked fat in that dress, yesterday, didn’t she?”

We also question to challenge ourselves to grow in a multitude of ways, whether in spirit, mind, or in love.  “I wonder if I send her a Valentine’s card, if she will know I care?”

There is an underlying aspect to much of our questioning, for we cannot separate our souls and emotions from our intellects.  What is underlying is the self.  No one can be completely selfless.  Let’s face it, we elevate intellectual prowess and creativity, as well as curiosity.  This is what inventing and experimenting are all about.

Way too often, though, we find ourselves questioning as a form of rebellion.  This is particularly found in one simple challenge question “why?”  It’s comes across sometimes as a “back talk question,” and a direct challenge to authority.  Know anyone who practices this form of questioning?  Is is based in pure intellectual curiosity?  I am smiling . . .

I have found that my experiences in asking questions are usually followed by opinions and answers that I, and others, almost always are already in place to share.  In other words, we take pride in answering the very questions we ask.

Here are a few examples for the reader:

1.  Why does a good and loving God throw people into hell?

2.  Why is there sickness and disease?

3.  How long have you been stupid?  (I just had to, hahaha)

I am reminded of Leo Stein, who wrote:  “The wise man questions the wisdom of others because he questions his own, the foolish man, because it is different from his own.”

Don’t most of us already have answers to the above questions?  Which type of questions are they?  They are validating questions.  Did you notice that I asked with the answers already in mind?  See?  It is inescapable.  Dang, I did it again.

I am thankful for the brain I have been given.  I truly love being curious and challenging most everything I come across.  I am a natural skeptic over most things.  My closest friends know I debate most everything.  My family thinks I am obnoxious, at times, but they love me anyway.  But there comes a point when asking questions about the obvious, sensible, and observable are a bit annoying.  An example of this is in the question:  Are you really this dumb?  Along serious lines are questions about life, nature, and even death itself.  “Is the ‘fetus’ REALLY a human person?”  We already know the answer to that one, folks.

“No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious.”  (Karl Otto von Schonhausen Bismarck, Declaration to the Prussian House of Delegates)

What questions really bug you?  These last two I leave you with?  I would love to know who else shares my very nature.

November 22, 1963

26 Jan

“In the moral sphere, every act of justice or charity involves putting ourselves in the other person’s place and thus transcending our own competitive particularity.”  (C. S. Lewis, Answers to Questions on Christianity)

There are some dates in history that are so etched in human minds.  They are as imprinted as a front page.  They are etched as in stone.  They are each unforgettable in their own right.

November 22, 1963 is a date I will never forget.  As a 7-year old, I can still recall where I was on that fateful day.  I vividly recall my grandmother’s weeping and hysteria.  For some reason, I remember Walter Cronkite, CBS News, and all the images that poured forth from Dealy Plaza.  It was a terrible day for our nation.

The words of John F. Kennedy still resonate in our culture, some 47 years later.  “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”  Kennedy also said, “A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”  Rhetoric has a way of finding its niche amongst the quotations amassed across history.  Kennedy could surely turn a phrase.  One of my personal favorites is “Geography has made us neighbors.  History has made us friends.  Economics has made us partners, and necessity has made us allies.  Those whom God has so joined together, let no man put asunder.”

Another man who left us on November 22, 1963 was Clive Staples Lewis, philosopher, author, professor.  One man’s death occupied the front page of every newspaper in the world.  Another man’s death was a sidebar, tucked away newspapers’ later sections.  Memories about people and things are very important.  However, what lasts beyond people and things are legacies.  Legacies beyond elected office.  Legacies beyond politics and power.  Messages are embedded in legacies.  One need not be a world leader to have either a legacy or a message. 

There is no doubt that Kennedy and Lewis had timely messages for their generations.  However, as JFK has slipped into the distant memories of an era long-gone, it is Lewis whose message holds consistent.  From Narnia to Abolition of Man to Mere Christianity to the Four loves, Lewis’s writing are still touching generations.  One does not need to be front and center, as if larger in death than in life.  One just needs to “be.”  Lewis was AND is . . . There is a certain ubiquity to the works of this apologist.

Some of my favorite quotes of Lewis are: 

  • “100 per cent of us die, and the percentage cannot be increased.” (The Weight of Glory)
  • “This year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practise ourselves the kind of behaviour we expect from other people.”  (The Case for Christianity
  • “Who can endure a doctrine which would allow only dentists to say whether our teeth were aching, only cobblers to say whether our shoes hurt us, and only governments to tell us whether we were being well-governed?”  (A Preface to Paradise Lost
  • “Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment.”  (The Problem of Pain)
  • “Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning.”  (Mere Christianity)

Sometimes words that are printed, or carved, seem immortal.  But what is truly immortal in these words are their meanings.  Truth has no originator and no finisher.  Truth just is.  The discrepancies are how truth is appropriated and applied.  Misapplication of truth does not invalidate truth, much like a bad driver does not invalidate transportation.  (EZ)

Two men, of equal humanity, of unequal destiny, made their marks on history.  One left the earth by violence and that event still haunts many today.  The other man left in a peaceful, quiet way.  Both left legacies . . . one political and temporal, the other philosophical and always contemporary. 

Yes, there are some dates in history that are so etched in human minds.  They are imprinted as a front page.  They are etched as in stone.  They are each unforgettable in their own right.  Life is a product, not a sum-game.  Legacies are exponential when grounded in truth. 


Teachers Competing?

26 Jan

Last evening the president spoke, again, about schools, families, teachers, and education.  He mentioned rewarding the best teachers and cutting loose those who are not getting the job done.  How does one reward the “best” teachers in a system that measures a teacher’s students by outcomes, test scores, and numbers?  I will tell you right now, if money is tied to “outcomes,” and teachers compete, it will get nasty in a hurry.

Consider the following.  K-12 education is socialism-in-action.  The government (federal and state) tells teachers what the requirements are.  Teachers unions and boards negotiate contracts, all with fixed incomes annually, and regardless how little, or how much effort expended, the same dollar amount in allocated monthly to each educator.  Teachers are blur-collar workers, paid as such, and expected to “believe” we are professionals.  No professional I know does recess duty, bus duty, has to wait until a bell rings to urinate, and has a 30-minute lunch, all spent with students who make up work.  I could go on.  We are simply not professionals.  We are social workers with credentials to teach, when there is time.

So listen up.  If teachers are to be rewarded, then how?  Do I get to select my students, so as to compete as a coach would be able to compete?  The coach in me loves this.  May I field the best classes to ensure my “success?”  Can I cut students who do not have what it takes to make it?  Let a first-year teacher have those kids.  If so, then I have a chance to compete.  But what is “best,” and who measures it?

Since the president mentioned training 100,000 new teachers in math, science, and technology–are teachers in those the areas the ones which will be rewarded?  How will that happen if ALL teachers do not have the same grade levels of students, similarly able  students, as well as students who do not speak English as a first language?  Do we want 55-year-olds competing with 25-year-olds?  What kind of profession does that with money as the prize?

Also, what about English teachers, the fine arts, music, literature, and social studies teachers?  How will those of who work in those content areas compete with math and science, in order to show we are “better,” or “best?”  I’ve taught algebra before and it is a piece-of-cake compared to instruction on the philosophy of “common good,” and its importance in American culture.  How we will measure level of difficulty of content taught and reward teachers accordingly?

Merit pay will never work.  Where’s the merit and who decides what is and is not meritorius?  Will teachers take tests to prove their own merit?  Let me at them, if so.  But it will never happen.  Education is socialism.  Giving workers more money for something immeasurable is fraught with error.  Giving workers anything more than the next guy gets is unfair, to many.

Students are living entities, not products that can be measured at the end of a business cycle.  Should we reward teachers when their students grown biologically and mature?  Sometimes that is all a student needs to understand more complex content.

If I am going to be rewarded because of my students’ outcomes on tests, it would be easy to teach right to the outcomes.  I would request all AP and Honors Classes, or the very low classes.  The problem with the very low classes is the commitment issue.  Students just simply do not come to school.  OK, then make everything college preparatory.  But wait, then the standards are higher, and the lower-acheiving students still might not come to school.  When they do, they might not evidence the scores necessary to make me look good.  What to do?

How about if an entire school shows improvement on its API and AYP, then reward all the teachers?  Nope, that won’t work.  Some slugs will get the benefit of my hard work.  Remember, this is socialism and everybody shares in the wealth.  How about teachers negotiate their own contracts and, based on education and years of experience . . . nahhhhh.  We are public–not private business.  We are funded by tax dollars and an annual budget.  The gal with the BA and three-years experience will complain when the 20-year veteran gets more money–especially if she is well-liked by her students and parents and she coaches too!  How could any state ever predict the “merit” of any given year and come up with the funds to reward, when they can’t pay their bills now.  Budgets are written for years that do not exist yet.

The president spoke as a private citizen, because he surely is absent the depths of today’s education dilemmas.  His children have never attended public schools.  He has no plan to improve schools.  He simply wants to dismantle No Child Left Behind and replace it with his own, larger government program:  Race to the Top–which brings so many strings from the federal level that states have said “no” to the money.

Measuring success is one thing.  Controlling schools is another.  The president’s option is to control and dictate who and what is deemed successful.  When a person or government entity has this type of control, it is easy, then, to speak of success and failure.

I will never understand politicians and bureaucrats whose own families have never spent time in public schools of today.  I don’t think a set of affirmative action bureaucrats have a clue about competition in its purest sense.

So, President Obama, I await your plan to allow me to compete for money and rewards.  Whatcha got bro?

Have We Lost Our Minds? (Warning, Graphic)

20 Jan

The title, alone, of this blog might imply something that I do not mean for it to imply.  But really, can I control that?  Should I always be on the lookout for words and phrases that are metaphorical, allegorical, humorous, and even a bit sarcastic?  Do I have to have government to police my every word?

Some of the words that follow might offend someone just because they appear in digital form.  But put away your political correctness for a second and pretend you are reading your favorite novel, or watching Chris Rock.  If anyone is offended because I argue for these specific words not to appear in texts, and ask for them to be stricken from literature, then you are missing the point.  Be warned the following is very graphic.

If we are about policing what is in literature, then please ban Toni Morrrison’s The Bluest Eye.  It is vile and full of racial epithets, including the portrayal of a black man who rapes and molests children.   This book was on the California recommended reading list for high schoolers in literature class.  If the censor police get their way, then I hope they strike out all offensive terms, including:  “white boy,” “honky,” and “cracker” that appear in them.  I do not care, then, what the historical context is.  It’s the same with the words “negro” and “nigger.”  Words like “mick,” “dago,” “whop,” “chink,” “gook,”  and all sorts of other very hurtful derogatory words should then be removed from all literature and people should be punished for using them.  [Side note:  What is strange is that many of these slang terms show up as valid words on a spell checker]

Any word that connotes anything against one’s race, or ethnicity, or nationality should then be banned from use and people using them should be disciplined.  But wait a second.  Do you agree with this?

Can’t I, as an Italian, refer to my goombah as a “dago,” or a “guinea”?  What if he is acting retarded?  Am I not able to use that term?  Is it not acceptable for Blacks to use the term “niggaz” within a racial clique?  What about homosexuals referring to each other as “queer,” or saying, “You’re so gay!”  Folks let me in on a little secret.  The answer to the blog question posed above is “Yes!”  We have certainly lost our minds.

Allow me to move from one facetious discussion to another.  What in the world is going on with the First Amendment police in this nation.  Are we really not allowed to use terms like “Crosshairs?”  Should David Bowie change his name?  What about U2, that Cold War relic?  For crying out loud, I have crosshairs in my telescope and binoculars.  Does that mean someone is going to beat a NASA official over the head with a refractor?  Do we have to worry about a terrorist attack upon Griffith Observatory?

I drove my wife to Target the other day.  Oh my goodness!  I wrote the word “Target.”  Someone might think I am talking about guns and bullseyes.  BULLSEYES!  Oh my gosh!  How insensitive to the animal.  We should ban all references to animals.  No rabbit’s feet.  No one should come out of his or her shell.  It might be too traumatic.  PETA will sue us and then the fur will surely fly.  Oooopsie.

In politics, we cannot refer to “killing to bill,” any longer.  People might think that such incendiary rhetoric might very well place former President Clinton in harm’s way.  HARM’S WAY . . . Yikes, did I just write that?  Shoot, man!  Whoa.  I just used either a photo or gun metaphor.  We can’t take the bullet train.  Might be deemed a weapon.  If you are not aware, I have going to the gym a lot since June and now I have some serious guns.  Ooops!  Holy smoke!  Sorry Pope Benedict.  OK, how about “Holy cow!  Thanks to Phil Rizzuto, we have come to hear this in our sleep.  But we can’t use the “Scooter’s” term, because it might offend someone in India, or make a Hindu feel out of sorts, by referring to a cow.

FOLKS WE HAVE LOST OUR MINDS.  Pejorative term use does not make someone a hater.  It makes him a victim of his culture–yes, a victim!  And how could anyone, at all, hold victims accountable.  How insensitive and lacking in compassion, huh?

If that standard was applied, there goes most of all Rap music and many cable programs.  But what is fair is fair.  If one group can refer to members in its own group by terms they consider offensive when used by others, then they open the door for others to think it is all right to use as well.

So, let me ask you a question or two–and I am being serious here.  First question:  Does Tiger Woods get a pass when he uses black pejoratives with his black friends, or does he get “nailed” (uh oh!)  because he is only 1/2 Black?  He is also 1/2 Thai.  If President Obama used a racial pejorative, would he get “crucified”? (Messiah-talk)  He is only 1/2 Black as well.  Do you see the folly of all of this?  By policing everything, it has actually made things worse.  There is a double-standard in this nation.  Anyone conservative or Republican–or at least not in support of leftists–is labeled and called all sorts of vile names.  The media plays up these labels with a grin.  Yet, left-wingers get a pass, as if nothing was wrong with their words.  I have to tell you that my colleagues and I point these things out all the time.  Most students laugh and see exactly what is going on.

We make so much out of racial and ethnic nonsense.  We have so many multi-cultural and multi-racial families and marriages today, that we are so unlike the past it isn’t funny.  So, we need to relax on policing the terms and focus on underage drinking, or MTV producing kiddie porn.  You want to police something, go after MTV.  Scumbags!  Did you get what I was “aiming” at?  [Let me interpret:  “bag of scum”]

We have culture, media, literature, and political double-standards to thank for it.  We have writers, comedians, and entertainers, who think they should get a pass under the First Amendment, but the average person can’t get the same pass.  Why is that?  Answer?  We have lost our minds.  In so doing, we have lost our moral conscience as a nation.  When we are allowed to elevate anything about our oneness as Americans, we get what we deserve.

As an educator, I have to deal with so much of so-called daily cultural fallout.  Try explaining to a student why two kids can say things to each other, and nothing happens to either kid–especially when one of them is only 1/4 like the other!  Go ahead, I dare you.  Kids see through it all.

Is it racist for a Mexican student to call a non-Mexican by a Spanish slang term?  And what if the non-Mexican calls the Mexican an English slang term, and the English-speaking kid is Caucasian, or Asian?  Sheesh.  There is not even a Mexican race, yet they have racist clubs on school campuses:  LA RAZA (The Race).  Anyone want to call them out on that?  Si or no?

What about two girls talking and referring to the other as “a ho.”  This is a black term for a whore.  What about calling someone a “bitch”?  Is it all right for girls to use these terms, and not guys to use them?  Gay men are called whores, sluts, and a few other choice words–and they are using these terms toward each other.  If they call each other these words, should nothing happen?  name-calling and nicknames, cultural terms and slurs have always been around.  Use of these terms do not make a person an instant hater of an entire group of people.  It makes them stupid, boorish, and many other things.  Just by calling someone a name, like a “hater,” does not make a person a hater.  If one name-caller is wrong, so too is the retaliating name-caller.  How can they be stopped?  Government intervention?  Or people going right to labeling someone a “phobe,” or a “racist”?  We have lost our minds.

Name-calling and slurs are the basest form of hurtful terminology.  They are used by people who should learn a higher vocabulary.  These words are meant to hurt, meant to cause shock, and meant to demonstrate power.  We suffer from what I call a “retaliation ethic.”  It is what my dad phrased as, “Tit for tat.  You killed my dog, I’ll kill your cat.”  He was definitely old school.  The modern ditty goes a little like this:

“Tit for tat.”  Interpretation:  “Stop talking about my body breasts and my body art.  What are you a gawking stalker?  I will sue you for harassment.”

“You killed my dog.  I’ll kill your cat.”  Interpretation:  “Animal hater, you are!  You make Michael Vick look like a saint” (I mean Eagle).  🙂

We have lost a lot of our sense of civility because the language patrol wants to make big issues our of words.  I could go into how today’s kids have no idea the baggage that comes with terms, and how name-calling does little to educate them about the reasons why words may be hurtful.  But I won’t.  As an adult, I am not in favor of anyone telling me what words I should and should not use, because they might offend someone.  I can choose for myself to uplift people, or not.  I know what’s right and wrong and do not need the “word police” to step in to hold me accountable.  We have not only lost our minds, but we have lost our sense of playful humor, in a general sense.  All I know is that if people are willing to kill each other today over the use of one word, or the use of words that imply hunting, shooting, targeting, and the like, then families are not doing their jobs, first of all.  How is calling someone a racist going to help to stop true racism in this nation?  It is often retaliatory and meant to harm another.  Whatever happened to turning the other cheek?  Would Dr. King approve of such accusations to hurt others?

OK my fellow doofuses and dopes, I think that about says it all for tonight.  I hope you are not too stupid to catch my drift.  Hope no one was hurt by the real use of these terms as descriptors.  If you were, I will first say, “I am sorry you were hurt,” (some apology huh?)  Now shuddup!

In closing, I have to admit something.  I am an old white dude, who cannot jump, cannot dance, cannot sing, cannot do much of anything anymore.  I am old!  Uh ohhhh.  For those of you who are now getting AARP, let me put it to you this way–in all caps–so you can hear me:

CAN WE ALL LIGHTEN UP PLEASE?  [No, I am not talking about a person’s need to go on a diet.]

Mankind’s Greatest Achievement?

20 Jan

Here we are!  We have reached a new decade in the twenty-first century.  We humans are so accomplished.  Or are we?  The answer to this last question would depend upon whom we were listening to at the time.

Technologically, we have reached the moon, sent probes deep into space, mapped human and animal DNA, invented all sorts of things–including wireless audio and visual communications, and organ transplants.  Everywhere, we see medical advancements, scientific breakthroughs, and life’s longevity seems greater than it ever has been in the United States.  We are a nation of “haves” and we like it this way.

Whether communication, transportation, education, medicine, exploration, and data-information, the United States seems to have ownership of so very much of the world’s capabilities and resources.  We are now competing with China and other Asian nations for global economic and political status.  Yet, for all of this achievements, we still fall woefully short of the greatest human achievement of all.  But like good and productive humans, we plod along as if progress outweighs reality.

Matthew 16:26 offers us this query by Jesus, “For what will a man be profited if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul?  or what will a man give in exchange for his own soul?” 

That is a great couple of questions.  The questions cause us to ponder the contrast of how far we humans are willing to go for ourselves, without even giving pause to the deepest part that comprises us all.  Again, we plod along as if the human soul is not the greatest of all concerns.

We live in an age of the ethic of retaliation and political correctness.  We promote individual over common good.  We have confused what it means to love, and the biblical moorings of this love in relationships and marriage.  All of us have fallen short and we will continue to do so, as long as we are alive.  But for all of our accomplishments, so-called, we have yet to achieve the very thing sought by most:  Immortality and Youth.

Despite the fact that immortality and youth are not ours for the keeping, we still try to achieve them.  How many products and spas can you name?  What about this treatment of the body, or that application to the flesh?  We strive to keep what we have, knowing that it is first-of-all, not ours for the keeping, and second, there is nothing we can do about it.  Still we strive.

Man’s greatest achievement is not in the body.  It is in the soul.  For if man’s greatest achievement is the body, then it might appear logical that death is the ultimate achievement, since it happens to us all, in its own way and own time.  Ironically, what is thought as mankind’s greatest achievement, immortality, is not achievable by mankind at all.  He needs the assistance of the One who conquered this whole issue.

I think you know where I am headed with this blog.  Religion is man’s attempt to find immortality on his own.  Relationship with God is the reality that God connected with us.  The two are very different, and the latter is quite exclusive.  It comes down to either man’s attempts, or God’s accomplishments.  Which one places our souls in good hands?

Realistically, we have learned to swim under water like fish, learned to fly through the air like birds, and we have explored the heavenlies like angels.  But we have yet learned to walk the earth as mankind should.  Essentially, we think accomplishments count as points in some sort of “Look at all I did,” system.  Put another way, “What would it profit a person if he scored the highest on every test imaginable, died with the highest intellect, and cured the most diseases, and owned the most toys?”  Isn’t he still dead?  What about the soul?  Since death is the great equalizer, where is the profit then?

There is a lot of truth in this, my friends.  Often, truth is bypassed in life by those who practice the philosophy that truth is made by mankind.  I would only offer this:  If something is “truth” then it will not change during life and after death.  That’s the kind of reliability I’d prefer to trust.

May we continue to learn to walk in relationship with the Almighty, and in the newness of the opportunities of each day.  The spiritual truth is this:  In losing ourselves to God, we find ourselves.

“He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake, shall find it.”  (Matthew 10:39)

Weapons of Mass Conservatism

17 Jan

Just a message to the far-left media advocates who continue the mantra of conservatism as the culprit for the shootings in Arizona.  Where were you when Fort Hood went down?  Did Obama’s rants against Conservatives cause that heinous event?  I think the shooter might have been offended that you did not recognize that jihadists exist and want to kill Americans.

Jihadists proclaim clear messages of hatred for the United States, our openness, and our Judeo-Christian heritage and practices.  They kill us regardless of the media.  They kill us over ideology.  But with the Arizona killings and senseless shootings, we have no ideology.  We have an ill person.  We certainly have no conservatives speaking small voices in Loughner’s ears.  Not only liberals were victims, despite what you think.

Try as you might to  find a connection to words and phrases as “stimulus,” you won’t find any connection.  You like this word “stimulus,” don’t you?  Very few, if any, politicians are heralding their original negative rhetoric, any longer, because of two reasons:  (1) They realized they were doing the very same thing they criticized, and (2) There is absolutely no connection between Loughner and conservative ideology.

So why do you persist still?  You have an agenda, that’s why.  You have every right to do so, and I support your right.  But you are not being fair.

Weren’t you the ones who criticized the Bush Administration for going to war when no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq–even after Saddam Hussein used them on his own people at an earlier time?  Don’t you remember that everyone but one politician believed they existed and voted that way?  You called out the administration and the military, along with the Democrats for acting on all the United nations resolutions?

Now, guess what?  You are looking for weapons when there aren’t any to find.  There is no evidence of Loughner relying on conservatives, or even liberals to justify what he did.  It is interesting the ends we go when we really want to find something that does not exist.  You blamed Bush.  Hopefully, you take the blame for inventing evidence, all while acting within the rights of the first Amendment, as do all the conservative voices.

I have news for you all with a newly added little voice . . . There are Weapons of Mass Conservatism and they are hidden in places that are easy to find.  Just in case you do not see them, we bring them out a few times a year and blast away–the ballot box, that is!  You don’t have to look hard, though.  They are right there for you to find.  It’s called our vote.

Find another topic. You are boring the American public again.  Thanks.  🙂

Was MLK’s Dream Economic Only?

17 Jan


Professional sports and entertainment have seen more millionaires made in short periods of time than ever before.  Add entertainment and past legislative programs, and the achievements of some are nothing short of phenomenal. 

There are some folks with extremely, highly disproportionate numbers of athletics in both college and professional ranks, compared to the national population demographic.  In fact, there are so many more minority millionaires than ever before–including those fighting for civil rights–who have become millionaires due to the cause.  Apparently, Jesse Jackson and his son didn’t get the memo that Martin Luther King’s Dream was more about character than anything else.  But that’s a different story for another time.

The old ploy that ONLY the rich are getting richer is a distraction.  Apparently most of us want to rich to get richer, especially when it comes to our favorite sports teams.  Why is that all right?  And we play fantasy sports, and buy apparel, etc.  The fact is, we have more people GETTING rich than ever before.  Sports and entertainment are the vehicles.  Let’s begin by examining the 2006 list of millionaires by state.  How does your state come out?

State Millionaires 2006

List information by…State name Number of millionaires Millionaires per 1,000 households Median household income per state

Listed in order by the number of millionaires in state
Rank State Millionaires Millionaires per 1,000 households Avg median household income
1. California 663,394 35.7 $51,647
2. Florida 369,912 33.6 $42,079
3. New York 368,388 33.6 $46,242
4. Texas 350,727 27.4 $41,959
5. Illinois 243,350 33.1 $47,978
6. Pennsylvania 228,270 29.6 $45,814
7. New Jersey 207,693 42.5 $59,989
8. Ohio 203,404 27.8 $44,961
9. Michigan 190,871 30.6 $45,793
10. Virginia 159,395 34 $54,301
11. Georgia 141,701 26.9 $44,439
12. Massachusetts 141,186 37.1 $54,617
13. North Carolina 140,501 25.9 $41,067
14. Maryland 132,354 39.1 $58,347
15. Washington 118,132 30.3 $50,885
16. Arizona 105,722 30.9 $44,748
17. Indiana 104,539 26.4 $43,735
18. Wisconsin 99,976 28.1 $47,004
19. Minnesota 99,246 31 $56,084
20. Missouri 98,279 26.7 $44,324
21. Tennessee 94,419 24.4 $39,524
22. Colorado 89,896 31.8 $52,011
23. Connecticut 84,508 41.4 $57,369
24. Alabama 72,299 24.2 $38,180
25. South Carolina 68,178 25.5 $40,350
26. Louisiana 64,972 23.1 $36,814
27. Oregon 63,943 28.7 $43,570
28. Kentucky 62,394 22.4 $37,566
29. Oklahoma 53,939 24.2 $38,895
30. Iowa 50,529 26.8 $45,086
31. Kansas 47,855 28.2 $43,802
32. Nevada 42,888 30 $48,314
33. Arkansas 40,756 22.8 $35,591
34. Mississippi 39,270 21.5 $34,508
35. Utah 36,348 30 $53,226
36. New Mexico 30,891 25.9 $32,029
37. Nebraska 29,862 26.8 $46,613
38. Hawaii 29,423 43.1 $57,572
39. West Virginia 27,302 22 $35,234
40. New Hampshire 26,498 32.8 $58,223
41. Maine 22,218 24.5 $42,006
42. Idaho 20,493 24.6 $44,994
43. Rhode Island 20,229 30.2 $48,823
44. Delaware 17,939 34.7 $50,970
45. Montana 14,155 22.9 $36,200
46. Alaska 12,167 31.5 $55,935
47. South Dakota 11,769 23.6 $42,525
48. Vermont 11,390 28 4$8,508
49. North Dakota 10,163 23.7 $41,869
50. Wyoming 8,708 25.5 $45,598

Source: U.S. Census Bureau,, February 27, 2008
Source: Phoenix Marketing International,, February 27, 2008

Let’s turn to a few professional sports.  I love statistics and I love athletics!  If economics is the realization of the American Dream, then it is safe to say the following sections bear this out.  You would be amazed at the disproportionate numbers of athletes in professional sports who have now realized the economic American “dream,” and have reached millionaire contractual status  Have a look.   

Here’s the NFL in the year 2009:

*2005 Census USA Population as a reference: 67% W-EUD, 12% B-AFD, 15% H/LD, 4% ASD

NFL Total: 31% W-EUD, 67% B-AFD, 1% H/LD, 1% ASD
99% National, 1% International

NFL By Position: (H/LD and ASD less than 1% per position)
QB – 79% W-EUD, 21% B-AFD
HB – 10% W-EUD, 90% B-AFD
WR – 10% W-EUD, 90% B-AFD
TE – 56% W-EUD, 44% B-AFD
OT – 45% W-EUD, 55% B-AFD
OG – 56% W-EUD, 44% B-AFD
C – 76% W-EUD, 24% B-AFD
CB – 3% W-EUD, 97% B-AFD
S – 15% W-EUD, 85% B-AFD
LB – 23% W-EUD, 77% B-AFD
DE – 23% W-EUD, 77% B-AFD
DT – 19% W-EUD, 81% B-AFD

W-EUD = White-European Descent
B-AFT = Black-African Descent
H/LD = Hispanic/Latin Descent
ASD = Asian/Pacific Island Descent

How about the 2009 MLB (Baseball)?  Baseball seems to be more proportional, given the statistics of national demographics?  Yet, minorities have a higher proportion of players to their demographics.  Add more millionaires, with several in one demographic who are not of American citizenry, as well.  So, athletics in the USA have also assisted in the making for some foreign-born, non-citizens to become millionaires.  Interesting.

*2005 Census USA Population as a reference: 67% W-EUD, 12% B-AFD, 15% H/LD, 4% ASD

MLB Total: 60% W-EUD, 9% B-AFD, 28.5% H/LD, 2.5% ASD
70% National, 30% International

MLB By Position:
Pitcher – 68% W-EUD, 3% B-AFD, 26% H/LD, 3% ASD
Catcher – 61% W-EUD, 1% B-AFD, 37% H/LD, 1% ASD
Infielder – 50% W-EUD, 9% B-AFD, 39% H/LD, 2% ASD
Outfielder – 49% W-EUD, 27% B-AFD, 21% H/LD, 3% ASD

W-EUD = White-European Descent
B-AFT = Black-African Descent
H/LD = Hispanic/Latin Descent
ASD = Asian/Pacific Island Descent
Consider the 2009 NBA:

*2005 Census USA Population as a reference: 67% W-EUD, 12% B-AFD, 15% H/LD, 4% ASD

NBA Total: 20% W-EUD, 76% B-AFD, 3% H/LD, 1% ASD
81% National, 19% International

W-EUD = White-European Descent
B-AFT = Black-African Descent
H/LD = Hispanic/Latin Descent
ASD = Asian/Pacific Island Descent

Interesting statistics, huh?  So what were the average salaries for athletes in the NFL, MLB, and NBA?  Here is a nice little calculator for you to check for your favorite, and most-despised NFL teams.  My Jets have a combined annual payroll of over 120,000,000 annually, in 2009.  The average salary is about 800,000 per year.

2009-10 NFL Salaries by Team

New York Giants $ 138,354,866 $ 2,470,622 $ 890,000 $ 3,718,306
Miami Dolphins $ 126,383,421 $ 2,256,846 $ 978,290 $ 3,206,135
Houston Texans $ 122,258,610 $ 2,037,643 $ 848,640 $ 3,159,274
New Orleans Saints $ 121,552,424 $ 1,992,662 $ 870,000 $ 2,580,010
Chicago Bears $ 120,672,110 $ 2,154,859 $ 820,616 $ 3,353,848
New York Jets $ 120,634,420 $ 2,079,903 $ 762,750 $ 2,776,685
Pittsburgh Steelers $ 119,292,960 $ 2,056,775 $ 792,500 $ 2,761,268
San Diego Chargers $ 117,458,935 $ 2,025,154 $ 927,880 $ 3,540,888
Green Bay Packers $ 113,959,603 $ 1,931,518 $ 812,500 $ 2,647,804
Tennessee Titans $ 113,494,050 $ 2,141,397 $ 1,010,000 $ 2,099,092
Carolina Panthers $ 112,963,398 $ 1,947,644 $ 823,700 $ 3,120,365
Oakland Raiders $ 111,527,250 $ 2,065,319 $ 830,000 $ 2,634,432
Buffalo Bills $ 111,253,126 $ 1,765,922 $ 771,000 $ 2,014,947
Arizona Cardinals $ 111,138,646 $ 1,984,618 $ 812,440 $ 3,074,368
Baltimore Ravens $ 109,503,397 $ 1,795,137 $ 735,760 $ 2,667,159
Jacksonville Jaguars $ 106,879,214 $ 1,875,073 $ 817,450 $ 2,596,032
Philadelphia Eagles $ 106,493,095 $ 1,804,967 $ 1,017,280 $ 2,412,917
San Francisco 49ers $ 103,738,952 $ 1,957,338 $ 1,177,280 $ 2,259,187
Indianapolis Colts $ 103,360,985 $ 1,782,085 $ 542,280 $ 3,159,957
Denver Broncos $ 101,658,735 $ 1,918,089 $ 1,016,370 $ 2,125,478
Washington Redskins $ 99,953,611 $ 1,784,885 $ 901,500 $ 2,098,759
Detroit Lions $ 99,910,434 $ 1,693,397 $ 896,040 $ 1,783,126
Minnesota Vikings $ 99,802,010 $ 1,919,269 $ 952,665 $ 2,309,590
St. Louis Rams $ 99,707,892 $ 1,661,798 $ 537,990 $ 3,016,850
New England Patriots $ 96,913,133 $ 1,642,595 $ 857,280 $ 1,664,966
Atlanta Falcons $ 95,062,952 $ 1,728,417 $ 877,280 $ 2,198,487
Cleveland Browns $ 93,932,182 $ 1,647,933 $ 870,000 $ 1,789,584
Cincinnati Bengals $ 93,840,588 $ 1,617,941 $ 623,965 $ 2,179,741
Dallas Cowboys $ 90,340,939 $ 1,613,231 $ 818,265 $ 2,339,350
Seattle Seahawks $ 89,075,820 $ 1,649,552 $ 917,875 $ 1,750,118
Tampa Bay Buccaneers $ 84,592,822 $ 1,458,496 $ 735,880 $ 1,774,029
Kansas City Chiefs $ 81,829,650 $ 1,410,856 $ 560,000 $ 2,596,781

Let’s look next at the average salaries of MLB. 

2010 MLB Salaries by Team

New York Yankees $ 206,333,389 $ 8,253,335 $ 5,500,000 $ 9,267,187
Boston Red Sox $ 162,447,333 $ 5,601,632 $ 3,750,000 $ 5,100,972
Chicago Cubs $ 146,609,000 $ 5,429,962 $ 2,125,000 $ 6,625,154
Philadelphia Phillies $ 141,928,379 $ 5,068,870 $ 2,750,000 $ 5,362,862
New York Mets $ 134,422,942 $ 4,800,819 $ 1,375,000 $ 5,850,033
Detroit Tigers $ 122,864,928 $ 4,550,552 $ 1,500,000 $ 5,770,275
Chicago White Sox $ 105,530,000 $ 4,058,846 $ 2,500,000 $ 4,400,865
Los Angeles Angels $ 104,963,866 $ 3,619,443 $ 2,050,000 $ 4,080,627
San Francisco Giants $ 98,641,333 $ 3,522,904 $ 910,000 $ 4,556,395
Minnesota Twins $ 97,559,166 $ 3,484,255 $ 1,800,000 $ 4,027,577
Los Angeles Dodgers $ 95,358,016 $ 3,531,778 $ 1,000,000 $ 4,595,826
St. Louis Cardinals $ 93,540,751 $ 3,741,630 $ 1,000,000 $ 5,075,085
Houston Astros $ 92,355,500 $ 3,298,410 $ 1,325,000 $ 4,847,410
Seattle Mariners $ 86,510,000 $ 3,089,642 $ 1,118,750 $ 4,193,128
Atlanta Braves $ 84,423,666 $ 3,126,802 $ 1,150,000 $ 4,096,206
Colorado Rockies $ 84,227,000 $ 2,904,379 $ 1,300,000 $ 3,798,234
Baltimore Orioles $ 81,612,500 $ 3,138,942 $ 1,325,000 $ 3,399,398
Milwaukee Brewers $ 81,108,278 $ 2,796,837 $ 1,287,500 $ 3,331,815
Tampa Bay Rays $ 71,923,471 $ 2,663,832 $ 1,800,000 $ 2,958,069
Cincinnati Reds $ 71,761,542 $ 2,760,059 $ 485,000 $ 3,940,122
Kansas City Royals $ 71,405,210 $ 2,644,637 $ 1,700,000 $ 3,214,399
Toronto Blue Jays $ 62,234,000 $ 2,074,466 $ 825,000 $ 3,108,950
Washington Nationals $ 61,400,000 $ 2,046,666 $ 725,000 $ 2,861,545
Cleveland Indians $ 61,203,966 $ 2,110,481 $ 427,500 $ 3,408,500
Arizona Diamondbacks $ 60,718,166 $ 2,335,314 $ 1,416,666 $ 2,369,465
Florida Marlins $ 57,029,719 $ 2,112,211 $ 550,000 $ 2,691,680
Texas Rangers $ 55,250,544 $ 1,905,191 $ 510,000 $ 2,751,240
Oakland Athletics $ 51,654,900 $ 1,666,287 $ 420,000 $ 2,884,030
San Diego Padres $ 37,799,300 $ 1,453,819 $ 421,750 $ 1,751,078
Pittsburgh Pirates $ 34,943,000 $ 1,294,185 $ 452,000 $ 1,479,520

Millionaires abound!

Now the NBA.  What so players earn there.  Remember, there 13-14 players per team considered in this listing?

2009-10 NBA Salaries by Team

Cleveland Cavaliers $ 116,902,727 $ 5,082,727 $ 2,644,231 $ 5,699,573
New York Knicks $ 114,338,560 $ 5,716,928 $ 2,975,520 $ 6,502,783
Houston Rockets $ 92,713,977 $ 3,863,082 $ 2,216,157 $ 4,557,657
Dallas Mavericks $ 88,312,340 $ 5,887,489 $ 4,700,000 $ 5,387,320
Boston Celtics $ 84,815,811 $ 4,989,165 $ 2,500,000 $ 6,616,121
Portland Trail Blazers $ 84,469,848 $ 3,839,538 $ 3,855,408 $ 3,512,009
Memphis Grizzlies $ 83,230,241 $ 4,623,902 $ 3,310,898 $ 5,137,811
Orlando Magic $ 82,329,491 $ 5,880,677 $ 3,419,704 $ 5,973,445
Phoenix Suns $ 79,428,800 $ 4,412,711 $ 1,755,900 $ 5,766,456
Chicago Bulls $ 78,469,779 $ 3,566,808 $ 2,103,080 $ 3,509,114
Minnesota Timberwolves $ 77,455,197 $ 3,367,617 $ 2,630,000 $ 2,849,410
San Antonio Spurs $ 77,276,044 $ 3,359,828 $ 855,189 $ 5,824,768
Los Angeles Lakers $ 77,203,679 $ 5,938,744 $ 4,159,200 $ 6,573,957
Miami Heat $ 77,135,159 $ 4,059,745 $ 1,187,686 $ 6,045,704
Milwaukee Bucks $ 76,227,006 $ 3,811,350 $ 2,134,260 $ 4,236,766
Toronto Raptors $ 75,601,958 $ 3,600,093 $ 2,304,240 $ 3,829,496
Denver Nuggets $ 75,580,222 $ 4,723,763 $ 1,968,455 $ 5,449,124
Utah Jazz $ 75,213,100 $ 5,014,206 $ 2,000,000 $ 5,470,994
New Orleans Hornets $ 74,250,064 $ 4,950,004 $ 3,630,000 $ 4,641,604
Charlotte Bobcats $ 73,084,292 $ 3,846,541 $ 2,374,680 $ 3,743,340
Golden State Warriors $ 70,639,719 $ 2,716,912 $ 1,802,780 $ 2,975,226
Indiana Pacers $ 70,516,057 $ 3,917,558 $ 1,976,400 $ 3,542,507
Atlanta Hawks $ 70,198,210 $ 4,129,306 $ 2,071,680 $ 4,286,950
Philadelphia 76ers $ 69,926,347 $ 4,113,314 $ 2,105,400 $ 4,188,053
New Jersey Nets $ 66,383,879 $ 3,493,888 $ 2,416,067 $ 2,649,663
Oklahoma City Thunder $ 66,171,801 $ 2,450,807 $ 1,318,920 $ 2,380,692
Washington Wizards $ 63,456,429 $ 3,339,812 $ 1,496,640 $ 4,439,718
Detroit Pistons $ 62,757,140 $ 3,922,321 $ 1,950,000 $ 3,722,419
Sacramento Kings $ 61,120,985 $ 3,216,893 $ 1,262,275 $ 3,367,389
Los Angeles Clippers $ 32,158,856 $ 2,473,758 $ 797,581 $ 3,591,271

If we look at entertainment, music, and the work of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and other civil rights groups/individuals in the United States, it is safe to say that a large group of new wealthy have hit the charts in the last 20 years–many of which are minorities, especially blacks.  There is no getting around the statistical fact that these millionaires are such because of athletics and that per capita, the numbers of minorities in the professional ranks earning millions are disproportionate to the other racial groups.  And you know what?  I find nothing wrong with that–unless of course one of my children happens to be denied something, in order to correct a past injustice, or to achieve a political agenda.  As a parent, that was not right in the past, and it is not right now. 

Do the numbers posted above, in-and-of-themselves, mean that we no longer have issues between races in this nation?  No, not at all.  But the numbers do justify the argument that some folks should cease the complaining about “racism” and accept the fact that things are different today than in the past.  We have made significant progress and that should be celebrated.  Do you know how it sounds to most Americans, when the wealthy complain about economics?  We think you are spoiled.  In some cases, i would not doubt that money has spoiled some wealthy–including athletes and entertainers.

Martin Luther King’s dream consisted of much more than economic parity.  I have heard his speech probably one-thousand times.  What strikes me still, and what most civil rights leaders and minorities seem to overlook, is that Jesus Christ and God are an integral part of the equality message.  Character is equally as important.  But character based on who and what?  Of course, the character of Christ.  King was first and foremost a Christian, which enabled him to preach that “ALL GOD’S CHILDREN . . . with be able to sing the words of that old Negro spiritual . . . ”  You remember those words, as do I.  These impacting messages seem lost in today’s culture of social justice, radicalism in churches, and shakedowns by minorities threatening lawsuits, unless they get their ways for members of their groups. 

So, while economically some minorities have achieved a dream, or two, it is nothing more than a materialistic vapor without the rest of King’s message.  Regardless of race, materialism is materialism. 

Yet, economics is a start.  What other nation in the world could ever hope to achieve such a dream, but America?  Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is the “Declaration.”  But let’s not bite the hand that feeds us, folks.  Let us also not blame the past, or people of today for the past.  For, in so doing, I would hope those who would blame, would also spout thanks for the current new millionaires among us.  Opportunities abound.  Close your eyes and move forward.  With eyes closed, joined by faith, we are all the same . . .


Rest Now Little Lamb

13 Jan

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Rest Now Little Lamb

by Ernie Zarra, 2011

In Memory of Christina Taylor Green

(9-11-01 — 1-8-11)


Rest now little lamb

So safe from all harms

Smile with joy as you can

While in strong, loving arms


Sweet, innocent little lamb

One slain so young

Life’s lyrics to music

Yet no chorus sung


His arms gather ’round

So closely and tight

Erasing pain and doubt

And even fright


T’will seem but a trace

The passage of time

Little lamb, your face

And smile remind


That life is short

And hand-in-hand

We leave this earth

As mortal sand


The passing time

We of faith unite

We’ll lean upon

Our Lamb’s delight


Rest now, dear one

And sing aloud

With voice so strong

And spirit proud


We’ll miss your soul

Right here at “nine”

Rest now, little lamb

You will be just fine.

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