In NH You Can Be Free to Brandish a Firearm But NOT Free to Present a Divisive Issue… Like, the “Rest of the Story” on 9-11.

September 10, 2021 Leave a comment

I just finished “Foreign Terrorists Have Never Been Our Biggest Threat” Paul Krugman’s latest op ed. This paragraph jumped out at me:  

Yet the exploitation of 9/11 by people who wanted a wider war — and the selling of that war on false pretenses, which should have been considered an unforgivable abuse of public trust — has faded from public discourse. And you hear hardly anything about the parallel way in which terrorism was exploited for domestic political goals.

I pasted a copy of this paragraph and left the following comment:

I live in New Hampshire, which just passed a law banning instruction in “divisive topics”. I don’t imagine many children in my home state will be reading this article or ANY analyses of 9-11 that fail to emphasize how our nation united against a common foreign enemy. The same legislators who passed this legislation and the GOP Governor who signed it lament the lack of “critical thinking skills” in schools and see no disconnect. Oh… and that same legislature and governor passed a bill to clarify that “showing off a firearm does not by itself rise to an offense”. We may not be allowed to discuss the roots of terrorism in NH, but we can flash a firearm to thwart a terrorist. Go figure….

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DeBlasio Poised to Jettison Gifted and Talented Status Quo. How Far Will He Go?

September 10, 2021 Leave a comment

Readers of this blog know that I am strongly opposed to identification and separation of “gifted and talented” students from their age peers for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which is that school districts inevitably conflate the results of easy to administer standardized tests with “giftedness”. I have witnessed NYS’s preposterous, complicated, and byzantine system for identifying “gifted” students as a grandparent as well as a (presumably) expert perspective as one who served as a public school superintendent for 29 years. Today’s NYTimes article highlights several elements of the NYC’s flawed system, emphasizing the particularly egregious practice of testing 4-year olds for “gifted programs” which, according to a quote in the article, “…allow children to get on a conveyor belt that moves a small slice of New York’s students through a parallel educational track, apart from their peers, starting in kindergarten.” This practice effectively requires parents to begin coaching their 2-year olds on the alphabet and number skills when they should be exploring the world around them independently. Of all of the options available to outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio the most appealing is likely the abandonment of pre-school tests, postponing the identification of “giftedness” until a child is entering, say, 4th grade. 

Whatever NYC decides, it will result in pushback from vocal, moneyed, and influential parents all of whom suppose that their infants and toddlers would qualify for this program. My experience is that changing a system of tracking is far more difficult than launching a program for enrichment where tracking is non-existent… and when the racial composition of the “gifted” classes comes into play the tracking and identification of “gifted students” is a political nightmare for school boards and school districts. 

The next few weeks should be interesting. I hope they are not explosive. 

Central York Students Say Yes to Sesame Street, NO to David Duke and the KKK… a Direct Contradiction to the Anti-CRT School Board

September 10, 2021 Leave a comment

As predicted in an oped piece I wrote a few weeks ago the debate of CRT and what constitutes “divisive content” is going to be played out in local schools across the country. Here’s what is happening in a Central PA district where the school board issued an edict against CRT:

“They’re banning material from ‘Sesame Street,’ but not David Duke. They’re banning PBS, but not the KKK,” Pennsylvania State Education Association spokesperson Lauri Lebo said in an email with The Morning Call. “They’ve even banned the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators’ statement on racism — which acknowledges that racism exists and is bad.”

Teachers in the school have spoken up, some going as far as to state they’re “afraid to teach.” A handful have spoken to local media anonymously stating the curriculum specifically targets Black and Brown people.

This week, Central York students protested.

One thing I was never taught in my current events class nor recall hearing on the news was that STUDENTS led the anti-segregation marches in Birmingham AL. I learned this when I chaperoned a Habitat for Humanity trip as a Superintendent a decade ago. I am fairly confident that this is probably news to most students in Central PA. MAYBE it should be taught there and everywhere across the country. Maybe the children can unite us.

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Categories: Essays