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The Number of Inappropriate Teacher-Student Relationships Keeps Rising, and So Do Arrests: Professional Development Needed!

18 Sep

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Head’s up to all public school districts, and private schools.

When it comes to establishing relationships–including the proper use of communications technology and social media between students, teachers, coaches, and administrators–and even with parents, there is a terrific blurring of personal and professional boundaries.

My book Teacher-Student Relationships:  Crossing into the Emotional, Physical, and Sexual Realms is a guide to reduce the problems, by enhancing the boundaries and calling into account the higher calling of teachers, coaches, and administrators.  The book details the problems associated with inappropriate relationships and offers solutions to make education a much safer place for all.

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I am available to assist faculty and students to discern where the boundaries are at this time of confusion on many fronts, between teachers and the pupils and athletes they are charged to teach, protect, and mentor in their classes, or on the fields.

Feel free to email me at erniezarraphd@aol.com, or post a comment here.  I will return messages.

Please click the following link, to read about the serious abuse issue occurring in the nation, but particularly Texas.  My work is quoted and I am referred to repeatedly, in the piece.

http://www.breitbart.com/texas/2016/09/13/texas-teacher-sexual-misconduct-cases-hit-time-high/

Bloomfield High School Class of 1973 Memorial Dedication Page

16 Sep

 

Bengals Forever:  A memorial tribute to those that have left us.

UPDATED:  September 2018

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Memories, the 1973 Bloomfield High School Yearbook

Cover designed by Patricia Anselmo Daly (’73)

Reaching

Desiring light but enveloping darkness

You search for the beauty

And the life

And the meaning.

~Colette Natalie Lisacchi (’73)

Gone, but never forgotten . . . 

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“No good work is done anywhere without aid from the Father of Lights.”

~C. S. Lewis

Poem for his Friends

So my friend you’re feelin’ down

Someone you once knew is gone

Farther than the longest mile

Gone without a word.

Life is a sacred gift

Taken back for no reason

Going faster than it came

leaving only a sigh.

How you doin’ friend we’re thinkin’ of you

Hold your head up in the morning sun

Look down upon us from wherever you may be

Your life hasn’t stopped, it’s just begun.

So your friends’ memories are never gone.

Sometimes lost but always found

And as time passes day by day

Sooner than you think you’ll meet again.

So my friend, don’t let it bring you down

He is better off then we are here.

So my friend, don’t let it bring you down

He is watching over us somewhere.

~Kenneth J. Brill (’73)

John Mitchell Adams

Mass to be Held Today for John Mitchell Adams.
A Mass will be held this morning for John Mitchell Adams, 18 son of Mr. and Mrs. Kelty Adams of 26 Olive
Street, at St. Anthony’s Church, Franklin Avenue, Belleville.  The youth was reported missing in heavy seas at Seaside Heights last Thursday, and presumed drowned. Marine police and Coast Guard boats searched through Sunday.  The accident occurred about 7:40 p.m. off of the Summer Street beach.  Mr. Adams and two other youths were on a raft which was upset by a wave. Mr. Adams was swept away but the two other youths managed to get to shore.  Born in Wyatt, MO., Mr. Adams moved with his family to Connecticut, then to East Orange and Bloomfield. John Adams attended Clifford Scott High School in East Orange for two years and Bloomfield High School for two years and was a member of the BHS graduating class of 1973.  He had been sworn into the Naval Reserves and was supposed to report for duty on 1. He planned to spend two weeks with friends at the shore first.  In addition to his parents, members of the youth’s family include two sisters, Mary Louise, 19 and Angela, 15 at home; his maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Alphonse Condito of 91 Watsessing Avenue, and his paternal grandfather, John W. Adams of the Olive Street address.  Obituary; John Mitchell Adams.pdf.  See link below.

Phyllis (Angelo) Piccirillo

David Aspen

Patricia Caruso

Patrick Cervasio

Thomas W. Corcoran (Drama Club; Acting Club; Vice President; All-School Production; Student Prints; Photography Staff; Chess Club; Intramural Basketball; Intramural Volleyball; Camera Club)

Thomas W. Corcoran, on Monday, September 15, 2003, of Upper Montclair, NJ, husband of Patricia Barry Corcoran, father of Maureen, Leigh Ann, and Heather Corcoran, all of Upper Montclair, son of the late Charles andVirginia Corcoran, brother of Charles of Middlesex, also survived by 15 sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, as well as 23 nieces and nephews.  Relatives and friends are invited to attend the funeral from The O’BOYLE FUNERAL HOME, 309 Broad Street, Bloomfield, NJ, Friday at 9:00 am.  The funeral service will be held at Riverside Community Church, 50 Union Avenue, Nutley, at 10:30am. Internment Immaculate Conception Cemetery.  Friends may call Thursday 2-4 and 7-9 pm.  For those who wish, in lieu of flowers,contributions may be made to the Jennifer Swift Feldman Foundation, 60 Bellevue Avenue, Upper Montclair, NJ  07043, or the Riverside Community Church.

Kathy Dell’Osso

Michele Mary De Vito

Howard S. Dieterle (J.V. Baseball; Varsity Basketball; Intramural Volleyball)

John Dull

Timothy Dwyer

Stephen Figurelli

Karen E. Fleisher (Display Committee; Guidance Worker) 

Al R. Fleming

William F. Giammearse

Edward A. Gleason

Kevin Robert Greener (Library Council, Display Committee; Wrestling. Outdoor Track)

Maralyce “Molly” Henchey

Maralyce (Molly) Henchey of Montclair, N.J., died on Nov. 21, 2010, at Father Hudson House, Elizabeth, N.J. She was 55 years old. Relatives and friends are invited to a memorial service to celebrate her life on Saturday, Dec. 4, from 12 to 2 p.m. at Frank Halpin’s Brookdale Funeral Home, 1284 Broad St., Bloomfield, N.J. Maralyce was a 1976 graduate of Ramapo College with a degree in psychology. She was an avid gardener. Maralyce was the beloved daughter of the late Ann and William
Henchey; dear sister of Monica Ginsberg of Randolph, N.J., and Michael Henchey and Lawrence Henchey, both of Montclair, and loving aunt of Aaron and Ethan Ginsberg. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Father Hudson House, 111
Dehart Place, Elizabeth, N.J. 07202, in her memory.

Norajean Hughes (Home Economics Club; History Club)

Robert L. Juliano (Outdoor Track)

Joan Kabasakalian (German Club; National Honor Society)

Charles S. Karsh (Valedictorian; History Club; Creative Writing Club; Ecology Club; Treasurer; Key Club; National Honor Society)

Carol Lynn Koslosky (Football Program)

Paul Krie

Donald Robert Krentz (Intramural Basketball)

Joseph P. LaBadia (Varsity Football, Golf, Italian Club; Varsity “B” Club; Intramural basketball);  Birth Date:  11 June 1954; Death Date:  22 April 2005; Localities:  Big canoe, Pickens, Jasper, Georgia, 30143

Kathleen Ann Lataro (Home Economics Club)

Dorothy Ann Leggins

John Lloyd

Thomas James Madden

Daniel Peter McGrath

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Daniel McGrath Retired Bloomfield fireman Daniel McGrath, 61, of Longs, S.C., passed away on Aug. 7, 2016. Relatives and friends are invited to attend a celebration of his life at the O’Boyle Funeral Home, 309 Broad St., Bloomfield, N.J., on Tuesday, Sept. 6, from 5 to 7 p.m. Please express condolences at oboylefuneralhome.com. Born in Newark, N.J., Daniel lived in Bloomfield and the last eight years in Longs. He was a retired fireman in Bloomfield for 20 years. Daniel was the brother of Gerard, Terrance, and Susan.

Nancy E. McLaughlin (Home Economics Club; MEMORIES ’73; Literary Staff; Future Nurses of America; National Honor Society; Recording Secretary; Junior Red Cross Representative; Delegate to the Citizenship Institute; S. G. A.; Homeroom Representative)

Henry George Meininger

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Henry George Meininger USMC veteran and former Caldwell police lieutenant, 61 Henry George Meininger, 61, of Blairstown, N.J., for the past two years, formerly of West Milford, N.J., passed away Sept. 9, 2016, at Morristown Medical Center, Morristown, N.J. A visitation will be held from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m., today, Monday, Sept. 12, at Newbaker Funeral Home, 200 Route 94, Blairstown. A funeral service will take place at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13, at the Free Evangelical Church, 11 Lambert Rd., Blairstown. Henry was born on Dec. 9, 1954, in Bloomfield, N.J., to John H. and Phyllis (Lawson) Meininger. He was a graduate of Bloomfield High School, served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1974-1977. He retired as a police lieutenant of the Caldwell, N.J., police force, and later as accident investigator instructor. Henry attended the Free Evangelical Church in Blairstown, and was involved with the Solid Rock Day Camp in West Milford, N.J., where he was an instructor of archery and paintball. He is survived by his wife, Christine (Kongsberg) Meininger; three daughters, Anna Pascarella, Krista Dailey, and Amanda Meininger; three grandchildren, and a sister, Phyllis Bedotto. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Henry’s name to either The Solid Rock Day Camp, 37 Stevens Rd., West Milford, N.J. 07480 or the Shiloh Bible Camp, 753 Burnt Meadow Rd., Hewitt, N.J. 07421.

Gerald Oliveto

Richard Pelosi

Joseph Pezzino (Sophomore Football; Varsity Football; J. V. Baseball; Varsity Baseball)

Kathy Pologonia

John Puttorak

James “Jimmie” Quine

James Thomas Romanowski (Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Cross Country, Intramural Basketball)

Bernice J. Ryblewski (Art Club)

Alfred Michael Saia (Intramural Basketball and Volleyball)

Vincent Michael Salvatore (C. I. E.)

Armond Sasso (J. V. Basketball; Varsity Basketball; Varsity Baseball)

Richard A. Saunders

John Scalise (Camera Club; Homeroom Representative)

Thomas Phillip Scaringello

Marla Scott

Dennis Brian Slattery (Electronics Club; Homeroom Representative; Intramural basketball; Intramural Volleyball)

Richard Soper

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Richard Soper Loving father, son, brother Richard Soper died unexpectedly in his home in Bloomfield, N.J., on Nov. 21, 2016, from complications of cancer. A memorial will be held at First Presbyterian Church on the Green on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, with visitation at 1 p.m., followed by the service at 2 p.m. Arrangements are by Van Tassel Funeral Home, vantasselfuneralhome.com. Richard was a loving father, son and brother. He was a man of integrity who endured many challenges in his life. His gruff exterior masked a very loving heart. Richard was born in Bad Axe, Mich., on Nov. 15, 1955, to Ruth Louise (Emery) Soper and Ward Orin Soper. When the family moved back to Bloomfield, Richard was educated in the Bloomfield school system. In 1972 Richard was given an award for bravery when he rescued his maternal grandmother from a home fire. He married in his twenties and was blessed with beautiful daughters, Georgann and Annatalie Soper, whom he loved very much. After living in Florida for a few years, Richard returned to Bloomfield to take devoted care of his parents. He was a loyal employee of Terry Drugs, then Esquire Big and Tall, until his retirement a few years ago. Richard is survived by his mother, Ruth; daughters, Georgann and Annatalie, and sister, Cheryl. He was predeceased by his father, Ward; grandmother, Louise Emery, and brother and sister, Ward Arthur Soper and Sandra Louise Soper. Richard will be greatly missed by those who knew and loved him very much.

Published in Star-Ledger on Dec. 2, 2016– See more at: http://obits.nj.com/obituaries/starledger/obituary.aspx?n=richard-soper&pid=182920150&fhid=17157#sthash.bYeJPcAK.dpuf

Theresa Spano (Pep Club; German Club; Future Teachers Club; Gym Club; S. G. A.; Dramatics Club; G. A. A.; Cheerleading Squad, Speedball; Basketball; Volleyball)

Terry Spano, Rockette and performing arts school founder, of Roseland, 53 Terry Spano, 53, of Roseland passed into eternal rest Thursday in Hackensack University Medical Center, after fighting a courageous battle for four yeares against ovarian cancer. Services will be conducted from the LaMonica Memorial Home, 145 E. Mount Pleasant Ave., Livingston, on Monday, Sept. 29, at 9a.m., followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. in Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church, Roseland. Interment will follow in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, East Hanover. Visitation is on Sunday form 1 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m.  Terry was born in Newark, the daughter of the late Michael and Carmella Spano.  She was raised in Bloomfield and moved to Roseland in 1984. A 1973 graduate of Bloomfield Senior High School, Terry auditioned in her senior year and was accepted into the world famous Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. This began a 23-year career that took her all over the world. Terry began her love of dancing at four years of age as a student of the Perry and Keller Dance Studio in East Orange. At Radio City Music Hall, she danced with such famous stars as Liza Minelli, Peter Allen, Liberace, Ginger Rogers and Gwen Verdon. She also starred in the made-for-television movie ‘Legs’, the life of a Rockette, print ads for’I Love New York’, and the feature film, ‘Annie’. In 1988, Terry was chosen to be one of eight Rockettes to co-star with Chita Rivera on a world tour of the revival of the Broadway hit of Cole Porter’s ‘Can Can’. This 2 1/2 year tour took Terry around the U.S. and all over the world to London, Paris, Germany, Australia and for three months, Japan. Terry was a 30-year member of the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists, Actors Equity and the Screen Actors Guild, voting every year for the Academy Awards. She retired from Radio City Music Hall in 1996 and became the founder and artistic director of the the Roseland School of Performing Arts, showcasing the development of young students in the area several times a year. Through these experiences, Terry gave others her courage to dream of a life in the performing arts. In June 2007, Terry was chosen Citizen of the Year by the Roseland Chapter of Unico National for her outstanding devotion and dedication to the Roseland community. She is survived by her husband of 28 years, John Higgins of Roseland; her brother, Michael Spano Jr. and his wife, Angela, and sons, Ryan, Gino and Michael, all of Roseland, and her many loving family members. In lieu of flowers, donations in Terry’s memory would be appreciated and can be sent to The Sisters of Saint Joseph, St. Joseph’s Villa, 110 W. Wissahickon Ave., Flourtown, Pa. 19031.

Richard Staub

Richard P. Staub, 54, passed away on Saturday, October 11, 2008. A memorial mass will be held on Saturday, October 25, 2008 at St. Mary’sChurch, 17 Msgr. Owens Pl., Nutley at 1:00 p.m. To send condolences and to sign the guestbook, please visit www.biondifuneralhome.com.  Mr. Staub, formerly from Bloomfield and Florida, currently lived in Nutley and was a butcher and meat manager for Pathmark and ShopRite. Richard is survived by his former wife Louise Staub and his beloved son Richard Ryan Staub. He is also survived by his brothers Joseph Staub; David Staub and his wife Karen; John Staub and his wife Lisa. Richard is also survived by his sisters Mary Hoover, Theresa Sheldon and her husband Gary; Peggy Caruso and her husband John. He is also survived by many loving nieces, nephews and life-long friends.  Arrangements by the Biondi Funeral Home of Nutley, NJ.

Linda Tibbetts

Vincent Henry Tucciarone

Edwin D. Whelpley (Electronics Club; Chips and Sparks Club)

Gail Wilks (Visovsky)

Robert William Williams (Outdoor Track)

Education Recommendations for Federal and State Agencies

7 May

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FEDERAL AND STATE AGENCIES*
The following list of fifteen recommendations is not exhaustive, but rather a starting point for federal and state level governments.  This list is provided to these bureaucracies as they consider future development and implementation of education programs that come packaged with national implications.
Recommendation #1: Transparency. Transparency would have provided the necessary debate and open sharing of costs, benefits, and public concerns.  Changing programs from one thing to something else should never been undertaken without open discussions. Understand that government does not know best, but that an honest and open government that lifts up people to the changes they view as best is a government of the people. Such a government works best.
Recommendation #2: Remain Politically Neutral. Remove the political aspects of agenda from partisanship and political maneuvering. Validate Americans, and not political parties.
Recommendation #3: Focus on Students First. Focus efforts to change education upon students and families, and not the types of jobs required for future corporate employers.
Recommendation #4: Consider the Arts, Music, and Trades. Consider how all the areas not included in Common Core standards can be incorporated.  After all, students in America are not students in Europe or Asia.
Recommendation #5: Place Less Emphasis on International Assessments.  Be wary of utilizing international assessments for the basis of changing entire systems of education in the United States.
Recommendation #6: Avoid a National Curriculum. Steer completely clear of any discussion of a nationalized curriculum, or a one-size-fits-all area of content. The United States is not Europe, and many foreign nations that have national curricula have lower academic performance than America.
Recommendation #7: Develop More Accurate Domestic Assessments.  Understand that assessments are not the picture of whole persons; they are snapshots and moments in time. Reliance on imperfect assessments does not tell the whole story about American education. Continue development of more and better domestic assessments.
Recommendation #8: Empower States to Step Up. Enable states to compete for federal grants to establish exciting and different programs that include trades, technology, and innovative careers geared toward the future.  Empower entrepreneurialism, beginning in elementary school.
Recommendation #9: Do Not Force All Students into a College Mold.  Understand not all students are college bound and that forcing students into a federal blueprint for education is perceived as control and not as freedom to choose.
Recommendation #10: Allow States to Structure Teacher Accountability.  Allow states to hold their own teachers accountable for education. Allow universities and colleges of education to ramp up their requirements to enter programs of teacher training. There should be no federal punishment for teachers struggling to finds ways to educate the masses in inner cities.
Recommendation #11: Provide Block Grants for Trade and Tech School Startups.  Support states with block grants, so high schools can partner with businesses and create jobs for those who wish to work in high school, as they train for a trade, or experiment with business start-ups online.
Recommendation #12: Attract the Best and Brightest to Teaching.  Mount a campaign to attract the best and brightest to colleges and universities to train to become teachers.  Focus on demand, not just supply. Find those called to teach and invest in their lives.
Recommendation #13: Cease Partisan Argumentation. Cease the side-taking and partisan bickering over the direction of education. Allow more local control of decisions on education. Enable states to work together to create regional hubs of excellence, so that regional certification can be added to state certification. In the process, focus attention on impoverished areas and bring communities and families together to brainstorm ways to move forward.
Recommendation #14: Be Proud of Our American Heritage.  No nation is perfect.  Do not be ashamed of America’s Judeo-Christian heritage, as it provides a mooring to our purpose as a nation.  Students need a sense of purpose for their existence.  Not everything in American education should be about individuality. Common good should also be in the equation.
Recommendation #15: Recognize School Choice. Recognize that there are models of schools that meet the needs of families throughout the nation.  Support these families for their choices. Whether public schools, private schools, private religious schools, or homeschools, support all of them and encourage all models that parents deem best for their children.

 

*Excerpted from Ernest J. Zarra, III, The Wrong Direction for Today’s Schools:  The Impact of Common Core on American Education.  Rowman & Littlefield, 2015, pp. 260-262.

Coming Out . . . The Genius of It All

2 Mar

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A few years back, our school newspaper published an article titled, “Sexuality loses meaning as it becomes career booster.” The title, in-and-of-itself, was an oxymoron. The very thing that enhances careers is indeed meaningful. In fact, the claim of “sexuality” at all has become and “enigmatic enhancement” of the first order. How’s THAT for an oxymoron?

But semantics aside, titles are meant to catch people’s attention. What is it about today’s culture, anyway? Everyone seems to be defining themselves by their sexuality. The stars in the media always have to come across as sexy. Clothes have to be sexy. Food has to be sexy. Then there are mouthwashes, toothpastes, cars, whatever! Sex sells, I guess. Being sexy-gay, and metro-sexual also sell in today’s culture. Even Facebook has caved to the pressures of sexual expression, called by progressives as “gender identity.”

In that issue of the school newspaper, comments by students were printed in response to others, who have chosen alternative lifestyles. Isn’t everyone’s lifestyle an alternative one? Titles really do not define us, and neither do nicknames. What they do, though, is capture attention. Consequently, if a person favors traditional marriage, he or she is labeled “anti-homosexual,” or a homophobe.” Attention pushes emotions and thus, fads are born. High school campuses are replete with fads. Sex is just one more fad. However, fads based on sexuality are just a bit different, in that people seem to think their sex and gender are who they are.

The Genius of It All

Here is an example. If I call myself a genius, a born genius, and I am someone who joins up with groups of geniuses—and even begin to wear the “attire of the genius” groups, use the language of geniuses, etc.–I am perceived by these actions as a genius. But am I truly a genius? Would a genius seek to be one so desperately that he must come out as one and join a group?

Taking things even farther, I could even have participated in a community parade of geniuses and protested people of ordinary intelligence, calling them all hater of geniuses, if they dared to speak of the ordinary in ways that validated their ordinary intelligence. All things considered, do any of these actions mean I am a genius? Participation in the actions that some equate with lifestyle does not necessarily equate to the conclusion that I am a genius. I could bear the title of GENIUS and not be one. What is more, I could claim to have been born a genius, only to arrive later in life at the realization that I am quite an “ordinary genius.” Talk about oxymorons?

We live in a heightened state of sexual identity today, media-driven to be sure! How else would high schoolers—or anyone for that matter—know their sexuality, absent the practice? In my opinion, the titles we ascribe to our identities are not the real points of identification. Just like one’s beliefs, names are just that—NAMES. It is the actual, continued practice that defines us, in my opinion. Attraction is not the main issue. In the same way no one can claim to be a potato because of one’s regular cravings, attractions–and even addiction–for french fries, no one can say they are heterosexual or homosexual merely by attraction, or sexual lust. I’ll return to this conclusion a bit later. One thing is certain: We are all born sexual.

In case no one has paid attention yet, allow me to open a door and reveal this truth. We, the human race, are sexual creatures. Did you hear me? WE ARE SEXUAL. Why should we have to go around labeling ourselves by culturally-spotlighted titles? Why should heterosexuals and homosexuals have to somehow be certain that their sexuality is front-and-center? Think about it. Why do we have “sexuality clubs” on school campus? The Gay and Straight Alliance (GSA) is a club titled after sexual orientation and practice? Is being “straight” a belief or a practice? Or is it a world-view? Or better yet is it an inalienable right to be homosexual, found somewhere in Jefferson’s Declaration, or Locke’s Natural Rights?

Considering Teenagers

How do teens ever know what they are, unless they practice something long enough to know? Are high schoolers even oriented yet? Their brains and bodies are changing daily. Do we expect that teens WILL inevitably experiment with sexuality to discover their orientation? I hope not. That is quite dangerous. So, what purpose does a “sexual-titled” club have? I’d love to hear of the celibate homosexual–talk about the ultimate in doublespeak!!!

Any Google search will produce the answers to the questions just raised. There are places all over the nation popping up that base their identity on sexuality—as far down as middle and elementary schools. However, instead of going Google, many young people are going “Gaga.” Here is one such recent example:

The Youth Empowerment Summit (YES)

YES took place at Everett Middle School, just one of dozens of locations in the past few years. YES remains a FREE conference, sponsored by GSA Network for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, and straight ally youth dedicated to fostering safe schools and youth activism. The conference is open to all youth and allies, with a focus on middle school and high school. Adults and teachers are welcome. Under the guise of “bullying,” the homosexuality agenda has made its was into all the corners of our kids lives.

It is not a moot issue to ask why not have a BSC Club too (Bi-Sexual Curious club). What about a Transgender Club? Many GSAs include these other orientations and lifestyles as protectionary, for those choose to proclaim a different sexuality. If gays do not feel comfortable in places, based upon their sexuality, then bisexuals and transgenders will probably feel just as uncomfortable. Should all sexual expressions have their own club? I would like to know just what “alliance” is formed between students of different sexual expressions? What about the “teenagers with crushes on their teachers clubs”? I’ll stop there at the edge of absurdity.

Why can’t we just stick to clubs period, you know, those that enhance civic participation and not sexuality? Why does sexuality have to be the open door? I shudder to think that demonstrating sexual practice is somehow one’s civic duty. Does there have to be a heterosexual community service club and a homosexual service club? Could we ever envision a non-gender club? Hmmm. How about naming it the Interact Club, where everyone interacts? What about Rotary, or Lions Clubs?

What About the Celibates?

What I am pointing out in this article, and hopefully the reader is catching some of my sarcasm and facetious allusions, along the way, is that we are all sexual creatures– including celibates? Those folks are defined by their LACK of practice, or orientation. Are they born that way, or is it a choice? Do we have opportunities for them to be celibate, and are they offended by all of this intolerable sex-talk? Celibates are still male or female, therefore sexual. I would like to see the statistics on gay celibates–those who have never had sex before. I would enjoy a discussion to discover how celibates know they are gay. The norm never has to explain itself. It is pure silliness to think that just attraction and even physical lust makes one gay, yet these are the primary determinants of one’s “same-sex-ploration,” if you will, all pigeonholed by the phrase “born that way.”

We live in a society that is so afraid to discuss the gay-issue, for fear of being labeled a homophobe (fear of gays). Labels, Schmabels, Carling Black-Labels (Calm down; The latter is a beer). As a person, I dislike bashing of any kind. Bashing heterosexuals who speak out as activists against the gay-lifestyle, with labels of bigotry, is as bad as heterosexuals who bashing gays at every opportunity. I agree with my colleagues that bashing and sexual slurs have to stop. But, I will go one further. Defining oneself by their sexuality invites polarization, and that also has to stop, unless we are going to allow additional marginalization of Americans with whom they choose to love and with whom to have sex. I call that form of identification quite shallow. But we live in a culture of labels and shallowness, and it is as if people are so uncontrolled in their desires they cannot help themselves and have little choice in their actions. Additional labels are assigned when one finds heterosexuality, and comes out of the homosexual lifestyle. It seems that with sex, you can’t have it “both ways.”

Lost and Found?

Anyone who comes out of the closet to admit their sexuality is somehow viewed as a person who has found himself, or herself. When were they lost? Many gay-adults are people who had opposite-sex spouses and families, children, and were involved in mainstream American life and living. Suddenly some of these folks walk away from marriages, many of their responsibilities, and those they reared, in order to pursue themselves? That is quite the height of selfishness, if you ask me–another hallmark of the current culture.

Do I have to admit to being a heterosexual for the world to accept me? Am I intolerant if I have different set of beliefs about sexuality? Not at all in either case.

New Civil Rights?

I have heard it said that the gay rights issue of today is a new “race” issue, like unto what the blacks faced in earlier decades. I think that argument is a red herring. No one I know has chosen to leave the Asian, Black, or Caucasian races to join another. Slaves were property with no rights, no freedom of speech, etc. Gays have all of these constitutional rights and more, depending on the state–where the Constitution grants everyone the same basic rights. Your skin color and DNA are what they are. If just one person leaves homosexuality and lives a heterosexual life, then there goes the ALL GAYS ARE BORN THAT WAY.

If a person uses race as analogous to sexuality, in order to define or identify oneself, then a coming out of one race to realize he or she is not truly that race, would suffice. Many of us have heard about, or know gays and straights, that have chosen another lifestyle. Trust me on this. There is nothing Eminem, Madonna, or JT can do to be Timbaland, “no matta how day dress wiff dare cloves.” I know we are “One Nation,” but don’t ask the aforementioned to “Apologize” for their own identities. They did NOT choose them. I reiterate, if just one gay or straight has chosen the alternate lifestyle, then the “birth” argument needs to be reexamined. And believe me, it does need to be reexamined. There are many reasons for “being” homosexual, departing from the norm. Maybe I have it wrong. Maybe we are all born homosexual, and because of abuse, social conditioning, or gender identity maturity, we just come out as heterosexual–even though we say nothing about it. Are you shaking your head yet?

Today we have gay sports teams being sued by bisexual players for sexual discrimination. Homosexuals are demanding that marriage is a right, when it is clearly NOT a right. Government might grant a legal right, but it can never be “right.” Gays in Texas want to divorce there, even when they were not married in that state. They’ll try anything to get a state to recognize marriage. If states against gay-marriage grant divorces from OTHER states’ marriages, then they (1) would have to recognize the marriage for a divorce to be granted, and (2) “the full faith and credit clause” would be implied, opening the door to federal decisions to bring the “doctrine of incorporation” into the mix. Having said that, it is just a matter of time before homosexual marriage (notice, I did not say same-sex marriage) is brought to the Supreme Court. The trend is that soon, homosexual marriage will be a legally done deal, and incorporated into all 50 states. Then it will be like abortion–forever an issue that will raise anger and disgust for many.

Radicalism

We have proms being cancelled because lesbians and gay teenagers want to make it a point to being same-sex dates. Things are so out of control that there is little sense anymore. It’s all about the individual and not the common good. Soon there will be heterosexual proms, homosexual proms, bisexual proms, transgender proms, etc. There are already proms and graduation parties designated by race and ethnicity. I am starting to see some reasons why some Muslims of the radical sects want to destroy the western world. But they don’t have to do it. We are doing it to ourselves.

In closing, I reiterate, we are all born sexual, for that is what being male and female imply when you check the gender box. I know it is popular today for people to define gender and sex different ways. Expressing that reality with sexual practice, or not expressing that is mostly about one’s choice. Without the practice, who knows? We all have our feelings and passions. How does anyone really know what his preferences are, when they are based in experimentation? I would not trust a teenage mind to make a lifelong determination about sexuality.

Teenagers and Life-Altering Decisions

I would hate to define anybody by their feelings and passions—especially high-schoolers–whose brains and bodies are changing every day. Here’s the bottom line. Am I against gays, or somehow a homophobe? Nope. That would be silly. I can easily separate issues from people. What I am against is this notion that somehow we must accept that everyone’s individuality who is either born gay, straight, whatever–over and against the vast majority of others. I am against a group hijacking sexuality and calling those who speak out, all sorts of names. It is classical republicanism versus individual rights all over again. Common good for the majority, versus the individuality expression of one, or a group. This is a good struggle to have in a democracy, as long as the struggle is not enjoined by haters using media and politics to ruin dissenters.

Coming out of the closet is a choice. I repeat, coming out in a “choice.” So too, is coming out of, and entering a lifestyle. No one is so compelled and driven to practice a lifestyle, unless there are issues of abuse, self-control, or some other sociological or personal concerns, such as addictions. Does this mean that out of all homosexuals, NONE are born that way? Probably not. However, no one has discovered the “gay gene,” yet. But does that mean all are born as such? I would reject that notion, because humans are not so bound that they cannot un-choose, make new choices, or choose not to choose, at all.

Speaking of such concerns, I want to go on record and come out and state that I am a “caffeinexual.” I have been hiding this fact and been cavorting with tea drinkers. People think I actually am a “tea-drinker.” I feel highly empowered, after having written this piece. I also feel like a parade is “brewing.” Coffee drinkers unite! We are all born this way. I can now check the gender box as a caffeinexual. But I can both ways, honestly–and I have! Coffee or tea? I am attracted to both, depending on my moods and the days of the week. Come and join me in my classroom any morning in my new Coffee-Tea-Alliance, to celebrate my “phreshness,” as long as you have “grounds” to do so.

Attention Educators!

20 Apr

Front Cover

Front Cover

We have a national epidemic on our hands!

http://www.amazon.com/Teacher-Student-Relationships-Crossing-Emotional-Physical/dp/1475802366/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1366476640&sr=8-1″ title=”Teacher-Student Relationships: Crossing Into the Emotional, Physical, and Sexual Realms” target=”_blank”>

The Lead-Filled Laptop

10 Feb

Hello reader.  Just a warning before you scroll through the following blog post.

No doubt you have seen the video, where a supposed father reads his daughter’s Facebook post to the camera.  You know the one, where he and his teenage offspring are battling with words, after which the father uses her Facebook page to slam her. Why does this happen?  Supposedly the answer is in her first swearing about her parents and calling them names on her private Facebook page, all because they expect her to do unfair chores.

WARNING:  THIS IS NOT GOING TO APPEASE THOSE WHO THINK THE FATHER IS A HERO! 

Right up front, I think the daughter is a mess and the father is a jackass, and the whole lot is beyond dysfunction.  They are all rebellious and acting juvenile.

Now that that is out-of-the-way, let me move on.

In this blog I intend to address issues which include parenting, bullying, violence and vices, and the differences between teenagers acting like punks and adults acting like teenagers.

I have seen the video in question several times now.  I have read many comments posted by viewers.  Side-takers abound.  The video has gone viral and some are calling the man a hero, and even “father of the year.”  If he is father of the year, then Alec Baldwin is Shirley Temple.

So, with all of this, I thought I would toss my comments into the ring, given the fact that I work with teenagers every day in my profession.  So, here goes.

PARENTING

It does not take a rocket scientist to draw the conclusion that there is major conflict in the home of the teenager in question.  I contend that the biological father’s divorce from the daughter’s mother caused a rift some time ago.  But I cannot be certain about this.  I do know that whomever is supposed to be rearing the teenage girl is sorely missing the mark.  There is no respect for either the stepmother or the father, and there is no respect toward the daughter by them, in return.  What has apparently gone on is the purchasing of things to spoil even further a teenager with no respect for the gift-givers.  So, taking violently extreme measures as a parent was felt as the last resort.  This is not heroic.  This is “dangerous.”

The father earns an “F” grade as protector of the family.

OVERKILL

Destroying property, when the Internet was the issue was overkill.  Shooting and “killing” a computer as a point to be made is overkill.  A normal person would have seen a long time ago that taking away the Internet–and the cell phone–and keeping them away–would have been the solution.  Hey dad, who bought the computer for the “spoiled” brat daughter?  You did, dad.  Who was it that allowed a teenager to have a Facebook account in your house?  You did, dad.  Who gave her a smart phone?  You did, dad.

No real parent takes his gun and shoots up the very technology he spent $150 on just a day before.  This action was not the action of a balanced father.  Of course, it is clear the father was acting in anger.  If he is to be believed, then he had threatened to use the gun before and shoot up the computer, t least on another occasion.  Only God knows what else he threatened to destroy with his weapon.

There are good chances that the father is an overkill kind of man, seeking revenge and payback–and all of this upon a teenage girl.  Umm, dad, I have news for you.  Your daughter has friends and you cannot go around shooting up all of their computers now that they have labeled you a sicko!  Anyone can use a weapon, but it takes a man–a REAL man, to admit to his teenager that he is wrong and wants to work things out with her.

PROFANITY

Language being one of your major concerns, pops, I see where your daughter gets her profanity.  You do not strike me as a man who intends to live by what he says.  Rather, you seem to be the “Do as I say, not as I do,” kind of person.  You posted your video critiquing her letter, with both your own profanity and hers, yet you claim she is in the wrong for all of her cursing.  Hey dad, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Two wrongs do not make a right.  Maybe if you put down the cigarette instead of your daughter, once-in-a-while, and have your second wife be a bit more relational and understanding in love, then something might be accomplished in your home.  Stop taking sides and show some love, pops!

Your behavior as an adult and your lack of parenting skills leave me no alternative that to give you the grade of an “F” as the father. 

BULLYING

So, let me get this straight.  The father invades the privacy of his daughter online, just because he was stealthily able to gain access.  Wouldn’t it have been better to sit with her and look her in the eye, while viewing Facebook together?  It seems he was just looking for an opportunity to go nuclear over an issue online, with the full support of the second wife.  Next, the father discovers the posting, prints it out, and reads it on in a video recording.  How did he first come to know that the posting existed on her private page, without invading her online privacy?

Next in the sequence, he takes out a gun and proceeds to pump someone’s computer full of lead.  We really do not know yet whether that was her computer, or a dummy.  But let’s assume it was her computer.  I can see the daughter’s face when she gets a text alert via her cell phone Facebook application.  When she sees the video posted by her father, she goes ballistic.  I bet her friends can’t wait for the next sleepover.  I would like to be a fly on the way in the school principal’s office, the homes of the girl’s friends, and at the police station, once all these entities gain the knowledge and see for themselves how wacko the father truly is.

The daughter can easily post from her friends’ pages, access her homepage from a friend’s computer, or even from her phone.  She can open a new page and continue the disrespect.

  • So, what is the father trying to accomplish?
  • Why shoot the computer?
  • Why the threats earlier about shooting the computer?
  • And what as the reason to act like a 15-year-old and post the video on his daughter’s Facebook page?

I contend the father is a bully and he is a power-monger, which is precisely part of the reason the daughter lashed out online to begin with.  If the father was angry about her lashing out before, just wait until the hormones line up on this new line of exasperation.

At 15, I’d be afraid if my parent shot something given to me, posted it on the Internet for all to see–including ANYONE on my homepage.  I’d be fearful about going home.  Such extreme actions are meant as overkill and an in-your-face act as payback.  Adults who resort to such actions have lost control of themselves and take it out on their rebellious teenagers.

For the act of shooting a computer to make a violent point, and posting his violent act on his teenager’s page–the father is a bully and earns an “F” grade.

USE OF VIOLENCE WITH PROFANITY

I do hope someone checks on the ordinances in the father’s locale to determine whether he violated the law by discharging a weapon.  If he did, it is a crime.  If he has no license for the weapon, then that also is a crime.  Let me ask the reader, what crime did the teenager commit?  None that I can see.  The father was embarrassed, so he played big-man and shoots a computer.  That’s just plain childish.  And he empties all the rounds into the computer, all while making certain to “give one for the mom?”  Juvenile father rearing a teenager is what I see.

For his use of violence and profanity the father earns an “F.”

VICES

Did anyone check to see whether the father had been drinking prior to his immature and dangerous behaviors?  It is obvious that he has at least one vice.  He was so nervous that his buddy, the cigarette, was gripped tightly by his fingers on his right hand.  I would not be surprised if daddy-o has some beer on a table somewhere nearby.  I would also like to know if he has a problem with any other substances, aside from tobacco.  If so, this makes his gun usage ever more concerning.  All I know is that if I was a neighbor and saw a man shooting something in the neighborhood backyard, I’d call the police.  The typical family with teenagers deal with rebellion and disregard of family rules all the time.  I would not be surprised if the daughter smokes, drinks, does some types of drugs, as teens sometimes do.

Given the modeling and poor parenting seen in this video, the father has to accept some of the blame for the way his daughter is turning out, much as I accept some of the blame for the ways my kids turn out.  Parents actually do accept responsibility.

TEENAGERS

I have been working with teenagers for over 25 years.  I won’t provide my resume to bore you.  Suffice to say, my wife and I reared two of our own, each with unique struggles and concerns of their own.  We exacerbated some issues and behaviors, and our teenagers made their own choices to do the same.  All that being said, “relationships” with teens in rebellion are not based in heavy-handedness.  That only pushes them away farther.  Raising teenagers is a real challenge, made even a greater concern by parents just giving their kids things and not modeling he behaviors they expect from them.

Teenagers must respect themselves, their families, and the goods they are given as part of the family.  The old adage is true:  “You really do not appreciate things you are given, unless you have worked for them.”  The daughter is a spoiled brat and does not work.  But how many 15-year-olds work?  She does not do her chores.  So, as an impulse, she decides to overkill on Facebook.  I wonder where she learned to do that?  Although I cannot prove it, I do this is not the first time the father has resorted to extreme measures to try to corral his daughter.  Over time, the truth will come out.

All in all, the father took what the daughter did–and she was wrong in what she did–and made it worse by stepping down to her level.   The teenager acted like a punk and the father acted like a teenager.

This raises a lot of other issues beside family and parenting.  Because of this, I am pleading with the father to put down the cigarettes, take off the cowboy hat, lock up the weapons, and get off his high horse.  You all need serious counseling.  Bring the mother and step-mother with you, if they can stop fighting long enough to see the needs of the teenager.  Heaven help them if there are more teenagers to follow.  I just hope this family does no become a statistic, all while side-taking people applaud the father and encourage the daughter.

Art or Science?

16 May

Sitting here having coffee and running a few things through my head.

If teaching is a gift, and art form, why then are we seeking to quantify the qualitative aspects associated with this art?  Can we understand how to paint better by analyzing the colors on the canvas?  Can we understand what it takes to be an artist, by dissecting each stroke used by the artist?  Are educators made better by meeting with others who are painters, merely to describe what we can do to get better paintings?  The creation of a common canvas does little for the deep and passionate gift that lies within.  This gift is best expressed by merely painting.

When the artist is able to use his or her creativity, there is often no explanation; Things just happen.  Following a specific set of protocols minimizes creativity.  Likewise, quantifying this creative process and then standardizing and commonly formalizing what is a gift, equates to gathering artists and seeking to replicate similar results on canvas.

Psychometricians want to measure apples and oranges and place giftedness into numbers, so as to justify methodology.  Education is now akin to “painting by numbers,” while calling those in the profession “artists.”  Educators whose cognitive bent is to acquiesce to this form of reductio absurdum miss the real place whereby education occurs.

Education is not in the numbers; It is in the brain where context and learning occur.  A student learns despite the ability to give back what is learned.  The forming of context occurs differently for all of us.  Some take longer than others to frame schemata and add to it the newer concepts formed, or knowledge gained.

Since we are all unique, and our brains contextualize very differently, there is no one format and style of teaching that fits all.  Neither is there one test that is common to all learning, and learning styles.

In a real world, all students would test according to their learning styles.  Good luck with that.  This would require students to be assessed, in terms on a common formative assessment given across 400 students of all levels, male and female, auditory and visual, communicative, gregarious, and shy, etc.

We need to end the hyper-scientizing of education and celebrate the giftedness of both teachers and students.  There is a reason the scientizing comes from the top-down, administratively.  Most administrators are numbers people and have drunk the Kool-Aid served by other administrators at the District level.

Measuring student learning with a series of short assessments after a lesson is an attempt to secure something in return, from students, that may very well be in their working memories to some extent.  The real test is tomorrow, or next week.  Did that learning stick and transfer to another context?  Unfortunately this measure is not completed best by a multiple choice “bubble” test.  Measuring qualitative giftedness is done best by student’s expressing their “own” learning.

In closing, I think we all know that bureaucrats have assembled a list of standards that students are to master at all levels, to a large degree.  One one level, it makes sense for students to “learn this and be tested on this.”  That is the mathematical approach.  However, on many other levels, we must ask ourselves whether bureaucrats know best what best prepares our students for the real 21st century world they face?

Should not those with the gift be the ones setting the course?  Instead of analyzing “red,” may we allow those of us who understand how red, blue, yellow, green, and other colors best fit on a canvas, as well as what strokes work best on any given surface?

Schools Gone Wild

26 Mar

Schools Gone Wild

By Ernie Zarra, Ph.D.

Schools are like any other workplace.  Teachers are adults who are thrust together in high-pressure situations.   Most days extreme adrenaline overload accompanies impassioned and super-charged personas.  Right smack-dab in the midst of it all are emotional connections.  Add to the equation the current push for the development of “professional learning communities” among schools and there is even more pressure. 

Teachers are required to be professionals.  We are asked to be assessment leaders and curriculum leaders, along with instructional norms experts, pedagogical magicians, classroom managers, with liaison-expertise to homes.  There are so many more requirements and expectations that many heads would spin, should I list them all here and now.

There are some things we are not expected to be, as educators.  There are some professional lines, just like any other workplace.  We are not to be sexy, male or female, or attractive to colleagues and students, on purpose.  We are not to be flirtatious and sensual toward colleagues and students.  Why do these things matter?  Have a look at some real-world, local allegations.

·  A man is distraught by recent events and runs into his backyard and shoots himself in the head.  His suicide leaves behind a wife and children. 

·  A woman is transferred from her job because of ongoing sexual relations with a colleague.  Her marriage is ruined, and there is no disciplinary action or professional fallout.

·  An administrator is having affairs with multiple employees at his school site.

·  Several school-site colleagues are dismissed from their positions and reassigned, allegedly for having sex with each other, on campus and off, and keeping it hidden from district-level administrators.  Students and community members knew of the rumors and information was made public only after the husband of one of the “players” made a huge scene on campus.  Young lives in the local community were shocked and the media coverage of the news is controlled with the phrase “personnel matters,” until matters are investigated fully.

·  A serial sexual predator has a history of using his work to pursue women employees for sex and ongoing extramarital affairs.  He has been caught in dark rooms by custodians and faculty, in states of disheveled dress, and observed at clandestine meetings with employees, all on the taxpayer’s dime.  Cushy class assignments and privileges are doled out for those that play.  Employees fear for their jobs, should any one of them speak up.

What do all of these experiences have in common?  Their commonality is that they all happened among those in the education profession.  In some cases, sexual relations occurred at school, among teachers.  In other cases, the affairs occurred among administrators and teachers.  Are you surprised?  You shouldn’t be.  Our nation is going wild with social networking taken to new levels.  There is a lot at stake in education today.  The fact of the matter is that some people still get what they want by means of sex.  “We can get the class we want, or the assignment we want from him, or her.”  Do you think that it is odd that “professionals” would practice this philosophy?  I know of an elementary administrator who lives by the axiom, “You have better seize the moment, because it might never come around again,” in referring to sex.

High stakes tests require high-demand training.  These training sessions often thrust colleagues together is emotionally-charged, near-proximity, away-from-home environments.  Add the evening partying to the mix, some human elements of attractions, and some colleagues express humanity like any others.

We all know of the criminal actions of teachers who have sexual affairs with students and are caught.  How many are not caught?  In addition to those teachers who are caught with students, unfortunately, in many schools in our nation, teachers are having affairs with fellow-teachers.  Administrators are having affairs with their employees and faculty, and some of these goings-on are occurring right under our eyes—at the expense of taxpayer dollars.

The most shameful part of this is the effects these affairs have on families and students.  Teachers with students at the school where they work are kept in rooms while “mom” goes off with the principal.  No one of us would ever lobby to pry into the private lives of teachers and administrators.  We all do have this notion of privacy.  But it is not absolute, and must never be viewed as such.  Teachers are paid for the job, under contract.  So, we are on the job more often than we would like to admit.  If you don’t think so, remind yourself that you only work when you arrive at the classroom door, while you are at home grading papers.

We must question whether we have a “real” privacy, or a “sense” of privacy.  Educators are, after all, quite public figures.  Yet, when the affair is practiced on-campus, or on school time, or school-paid conferences, red-flags should go up.  What privacy is expected there?  We are all aware of teachers who are imprisoned for having sex with students.  Should colleagues who express romantic advances and sex on campus–both gay and straight–be arrested, or at least fired?  If we don’t want students behaving sexually toward one-another on campus, or at school-related events, then were is our example?

Today, the problems among colleagues are spreading like wildfire.  Off campus events, activities in the evenings, competitions and trainings, in-services and professional development find teachers and administrators gathering in Las Vegas, and other get-away destinations.  Add drugs and alcohol and guards come down.  What happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas. It shows up in the school computer lab, back rooms, faculty lounges, and even in colleagues’ homes when spouses are away.

As a professional, I am discouraged at the example we teachers sometimes set of our students.  No, none of us is perfect.  But we need to protect our students and model behaviors we expect from them.  As a parent, is that what you would expect from the persons to whom you entrust your children?  There are too many destructive forces in our world today.  Why should we in the education field be another addend?

In my first book, I explored the problems associated with child sexual abuse, predators, and offered screening methods and various ways to protect our nation’s children at churches, camps, and other places.  It Should Never Happen Here has reached around the world and has been a manual of protection, among others.

In my latest work, I focus squarely on K-12 education.  It Should Never Happen Here, Either, is a direct and forthright look at the problems associated with way-too-cushy-colleagues, roaming administrators, and the problems associated with our sex-charged culture, as well as certain series of events that lead to the ruination of professional reputations in communities and employment, as well the break-ups of teachers’ marriages.

Professional ethics must be upheld.  The community must police itself.  However, if the environment is corrupt, and the system covers-up issues that involve sex, then the community-at-large must take matters into its own hands.  The moment teachers and administrators think we are above moral absolutes, we need to check that arrogance.  Like it or not, if we deem ourselves professional, then it is not professional to “hit on” colleagues, employers, employees, or students.  Professional learning communities are not ‘professional loving communities.”  We must never expect that parents and community members will keep their shirts on if, at school, teachers are removing theirs. 

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.

http://www.wcpss.net/evaluation-research/reports/2006/0605plc_lit_review.pdf

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.

Testing

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.

Dropouts

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:  http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/ne/yr09/yr09rel073.asp

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)

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.]

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