Mark Twain and the Fight Against “Eduperialism” in North Carolina

“We believe that out of the public school grows the greatness of a nation.”
– Mark Twain

The above quote by Mark Twain was delivered on November 23, 1900 in a speech to the Public Education Association at a meeting of the Berkley Lyceum, New York. It is sometimes called his “Boxer Speech” as Twain makes reference to the Boxer Rebellion in China that was initiated in response to imperialistic influences from other countries entering China.

If one was to read the entire speech within today’s political construct (, one might fall victim to the nationalistic, patriotic, anti-foreign gloss that may shine on the surface of the speech and automatically relate it to the rhetoric that came from the xenophobic verbiage of the past presidential election.

That is not what Twain is saying. What he is saying is that a country should be free to be its own without outside influences controlling it for profit. He was making a statement on imperialism.


At the turn of the 20th century, the imperialistic endeavors by many advanced countries through places like Africa, India, and the Far East were violent ventures in capitalistic greed: seizing the resources of a defenseless but asset-rich country and selling manufactured products to boost your country’s economy at the expense of the violated country. Some countries sent in missionaries to “convert” the natives first with organized religion, then they conquered, enslaved, and raped the land.

Read Achebe. Read Conrad. That history is not that long ago.

And Twain said a lot about organized religion. He certainly said a lot about slavery.

Just read Twain.

But imperialism still is happening today, even within our own country – even within our own public services.

Take for instance, public education.

At least in the state of North Carolina (and I am sure in most other states), the top expenditure is the public education system, whether just K-12 or public university system or both. All of that tax payer money going to allow for an educated citizenry that will then make decisions through a democratic process in a representative republic for the advancement of our country.

Sounds great. Sounds fundamental. Sounds American. It’s even in the state constitution of North Carolina and most every state constitution I have read through.

However, the resources that public education has, mainly funds, have become targets for many people who want to capitalize from those ventures: privatizers, “re-formers”, advocates for choice, charter school advocates, voucher supporters, etc.

Maybe they could be called “eduperialists” who practice “eduperialism.”

“Ed u pe ri al ism” – the policy of extending the rule or authority of a lawmaking body or private entity over public funds set aside for public education to promote privatization of education for a select few.

Think of vouchers. That’s public money being used to allow for people to send students to private schools and religious schools that can alter their admissions policies to ensure that all who may want to attend may not have that opportunity. Eduperialists in North Carolina even call their vouchers the “Opportunity Grants.”

Think of unregulated charter school growth. Especially in rural areas, public money that could be used to strengthen the very public schools for the local students is being used to help fund charter schools that will serve a fraction of the students but without the regulatory constructions placed upon traditional public schools.

Think of the Achievement School Districts. The one in North Carolina is about to start and it is being run by a “foreign” entity.

Someone is making a profit in all of those ventures with public resources.

And what’s happening in North Carolina is by far not the only example in the country. Michigan with the work of Betsy DeVos already displayed, Ohio with its charter school debacle, and Tennessee with its ASD troubles just begin the list.

Just like the old imperialistic handbook states, people with power came in and took away local control, dehumanized the system, and placed in authority puppets to prolong the partisan policy. Here in North Carolina, they put in nearly impossible accountability measures, school performance grade protocols, took away teacher due process and other benefits, and then egregiously placed incredible amounts of power in the hands of a new political ally elected as a state superintendent in a rather contentious election season.

Sounds about right.

Now that is not to say that all ventures in charter schools are bad. Originally, they were constructed as experimental labs to help instruct students not serviced well in traditional schools, but they would than share those methods and styles with traditional public schools to help bring more pedagogical diversity to public schooling. Those do exist. Some are very good.

Some students need financial help to attend very specialized schools if they happen to have developmental delays, learning disabilities, or physical impairments. But when “school choice” and vouchers are being touted as measures to help low income families maybe government needs to look more at how neighborhood schools can be helped to help low income families.

Maybe state governments like North Carolina’s can look more at helping communities where low income families live. With nearly 25% of NC school children living in poverty, efforts to take public money for vouchers, unregulated charter schools, and other privatization efforts simply take more away from those in need.

Later in his speech Twain exclaims,

“It is curious to reflect how history repeats itself the world over. Why, I remember the same thing was done when I was a boy on the Mississippi River. There was a proposition in a township there to discontinue public schools because they were too expensive. An old farmer spoke up and said if they stopped the schools they would not save anything, because every time a school was closed a jail had to be built.”

And again, history is repeating history. It also makes a case for the liberal arts.

“It’s like feeding a dog on his own tail. He’ll never get fat. I believe it is better to support schools than jails.”

I wonder what Twain would say today.

Probably not much different.

Especially here in North Carolina.

The Top Ten Posts Of 2016 – Read Again For the First Time Or Ignore Once More


Only in order of when they were posted, these were chosen not due to the number of views or comments, but by their subject matter and its relevance to what may be of importance in the next year.


And thanks for reading.

  1. Open Letter to Catherine Truitt, senior advisor on education to Gov. Pat McCrory concerning her op-ed on March 25th on
  2. A Pot to Piss in – Open Letter to Rep. Tim Moore and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest
  3. Legivangelists and Others who Praise the Lard
  4. North Carolina’s Playbook to Dismantle Public Education
  5. When a “Zero” Becomes a “50” And Other Miracles in Numbers – Or, How No Glass is Half-Empty
  6. Open Letter to Gov. McCrory and the NCGA Concerning Bonus Pay for Teachers
  7. The Ignoramasaurus Rex – How Gov. McCrory’s Claim on Average Teacher Pay is Not Really Real

  8. Open Letter to Sen. Jim Davis Concerning Misleading Claims
  9. Automatic For The People -An R.E.M. Mixtape For The Next Administration
  10. Open Letter to Sen. Richard Burr – Do Not Confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education

FrankenMoore and BergerStein – Uncle Victor Was Telling You Something

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”

And nothing is so detrimental to the health of a great commonwealth as a great and sudden misuse of law.

The preceding quote comes from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the first great dark romantic / Gothic novel. It was written at the ripe age of twenty from an idea born of a scary story-telling contest with her soon-to-be husband, Percy Bysshe, and his friend, the very famous George Gordon, Lord Byron. Also present was whomever Byron was dating that hour.


Rumor has it that on this same fateful weekend Byron concocted one of the first vampire stories, which is appropriate considering his own voracious appetites. But Mary won the contest with a story of a man so bent on obtaining knowledge and pursuing the idea of recalling life that he created something so unnatural that he defied the laws of nature.

Now to even call what Sen. Phil Berger and Rep. Tim Moore have done to be even subpar to what Mary Shelley had Victor do in her novel would be a disgrace to Mrs. Shelley’s brilliance, and even Victor’s, who is not even a real person. For that matter, it would be an insult to the fictitious monster who never gets a name but shows so much more logic (and at times regard for human life) than what many in our North Carolina General Assembly have displayed within the last few years.

That does not mean that FrankenMoore and BergerStein have not spent a few nights in special sessions behind closed doors concocting experiments with the law and the state constitution to create what has become a monster of a political landscape here in North Carolina. But unlike Victor who recognizes the effects of his actions and hubris, the leaders of the NCGA GOP have not yet understood that they have created a monster themselves that is hurting our citizens.

If you have never read the classic novel, it actually is one of the most well-framed books of all time. There are three narrators – Captain Walton, Victor Frankenstein, and the Monster.

Captain Walton is leading a foolhardy quest to the North Pole. He has been writing letters to his sister and then by chance encounters Victor.

Victor relates to him his own story of hubris-filled questing in rather painful detail and even narrates what the monster relates to him within his own story.

You got it – a man tells the story of a man who tells his story and includes what his creation told him in his story that the first man is telling to his sister in a series of letters.

And since we have already established that Berger and Moore could not be Frankenstein or the monster, they must be more aligned with Capt. Walton.

And they are. Because they are on the cusp of a tipping point with their own monster.

Early in the novel Capt. Walton makes this statement to his sister,

“One man’s life or death were but a small price to pay for the acquirement of the knowledge which I sought, for the dominion I should acquire and transmit over the elemental foes of our race” (Letter 4).

Substitute the words “political Power” for “knowledge” and “government” for “race” and you pretty much have the exact image of what has happened in North Carolina these last few years.

  • Consider the special sessions that gave North Carolina the blemish of HB2.
  • Consider the Voter ID Law.
  • Consider the Gerrymandering.
  • Consider the attack on the Public Schools.
  • Consider the special session that brought SB4.

Recently Jonathan Katz in Politico Magazine wrote an expose on North Carolina entitled, “In North Carolina, Some Democrats See Their Grim Future.” While it is not the type of reading one wants to have for the holidays, it did prove eye-opening considering that it specifically points out the “monster” that people like Phil Berger have created and now are having a hard time containing.

The first two paragraphs read,

“In the end, even Phil Berger, the powerful Republican leader of North Carolina’s Senate, couldn’t stop the debacle. A state law that effectively banned legal protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people—a law he’d pushed through the statehouse less than a year before—had become such a national embarrassment that even he wanted to see it repealed. But the far-right members of his caucus, happily ensconced in ultra-safe Republican districts he’d help draw, saw no reason to back a full repeal, and what was supposed to be a last-minute deal with the incoming Democratic governor fell apart.

“I cannot believe this,” Berger said, throwing down his microphone and slumping back into his leather chair at the front of the senate chamber, as the last session of the year came to a close, the stain still indelibly affixed to his state’s reputation, and his own (

That is no stain. That is a full-fledged monster.

Fortunately for Capt. Walton, Victor’s story does help convince him that his quest for fame and power is ill-fated and will do more harm than good. Victor lived the experience that Walton would learn from to spare him and his crew a life doomed to death and despair.

And while there has been no Victor Frankenstein that has appeared out of the tundra of North Carolina to teach Moore and Berger their lessons, there have been instances where some sort of Ancient Mariner has come to halt them in their baseless quests: the courts.

  • They did it with the Voter ID Law.
  • They did it with the gerrymandered districts.
  • They have intervened with due-process rights for veteran teachers.
  • They will have a say on HB2.
  • And now they have placed a temporary hold in Wake County on the effects of SB2.

What 2017 holds for this state may actually be a blueprint for how other states may begin to proceed with their own political voyages.

However, it may also be the beginning of an end because if the citizens of North Carolina are tired of being passengers on an ill-fated expedition, then those voices may begin to get louder and ironically, we have election day again in 2017 because of the courts, at least for a few districts.

Probably one of the most haunting quotes in Shelley’s novel occurs in Chapter 20 when the monster, mad at Victor for destroying a would-be companion, warns Victor,

“It is well. I go; but remember, I shall be with you on your wedding-night.”

Maybe in this instance, it will come back on election night.

Deadpool Has Felt a Disturbance In the Force – Goodbye to Two Icons

This past week the world lost two icons who helped define the latter part of the 1900’s in more ways than just through their artistic expressions on stage or film.

When my parents divorced, there were a few years where my mother and I lived in the Atlanta area during the late 1970’s. I was young. So was my mother. We had lawn furniture in our apartment. Ironically as I type this post, I am three miles from that old apartment complex.

Since we weren’t swimming in money, we rarely went out to eat or go see a movie, but we did see Star Wars when it came out. In fact, it was the only movie we ever saw twice in the theater. In 1977, that was the most futuristic, most visually stunning movie ever to grace most people’s eyes.

The effects. The Jungian archetypes. The good vs. evil. Wookies, jawas, and droids. The Force.

And a strong young lady with guts and a refusal to give up.

With buns for hair.


And don’t think that there weren’t a few teenage boys who found her as Jabba the Hut’s personal trophy a tad bit racy. But that royal upbringing mixed with Jedi heritage splashed with some rebellious kick-ass attitude with a dash of one-liners, Leia was that one smart lady who intimidated lots of men because she was strong, spoke her mind, and knew who she was.

Princess Leia became the warrior- princess of my generation. And with Carrie Fisher’s death, I am beginning to see some of the very people who helped define my world begin to leave the physical world and pass into another.

To say there is a disturbance in the Force would be an understatement.

Carrie Fisher did have other roles in other films, but she will also be remembered as an incredible activist for both mental health and addiction, both of which she battled throughout her life in rather a public arena that she was born into as the daughter of famous people.

Last weekend, I saw Rogue One and was a tad bit saddened to see Fisher’s role as a young Leia CGI’d into the movie as a segue to the 1977 episode that introduced us to the fierce Leia character. No computer could have done her justice. Only one person could play that role.

Godspeed to Alderon.

And earlier this week, the world lost George Michael, who possessed one of the purest voices of my lifetime, even if it did sing songs that I probably would not ever put on my iPod. But there are many that I would put on my iPod, and I have.


If you have never seen the movie Deadpool, then do it, but only if you are ready to hear some of the most beautifully written vulgarity to ever grace your ears. If I could put together that kind of script, I would be writing full-time under a pen name and be rich.

In the movie, Wade Wilson, the guy who becomes Deadpool has this fascination with the song “Careless Whisper” from the Make It Big album by Wham! And he emphasizes the exclamation point.


At the end of the movie when he saves the girl he even plays “Careless Whisper” on his iPhone.


I wonder if George Michael ever saw that tribute.

George Michael might be more well-known to some for his run-ins with the law for use of drugs and one instance of what some may call lewd behavior. But, he is regarded as one of the leading voices for the rights for the LGBT community in the world, especially at a time when society was coming to grips with AIDS and equal rights depending on sexual orientation.

And when he went on to a solo career, he and Andrew Ridgeley had an amicable breakup. Wham! Was no longer, but they remained best friends. No one does that any more. Wow!

Furthermore, George is one of the few people to play most all of the instruments on his songs that were recorded for solo albums and provided a lot of his own background vocals. Many singers now do not even play instruments and have their voices processed so much.

Just mentioning the name George Michael and I immediately think of the 1980’s. And I had some damn fine hair back then.

Carrie Fisher was 60 years old. As Leia, she fought for freedom for the rebellion against the Dark Side.

George Michael was 53 years old. He sang “Freedom.”

Both too young.

Support Your Local Bedford Falls High School and Help Make It a Wonderful Life For Students

Bedford Falls, NY could be almost any small town if you didn’t qualify weather and the appearance of book carrying angels as criteria. The setting for the movie It’s a Wonderful Life supposedly is fashioned in a striking fashion after Seneca Falls, NY and plays host to one of the best stories of the holiday season to grace the screen, even though it has been monopolized by NBC for prime time viewing.


That shouldn’t be surprising as NBC also still has ties to The Apprentice and made all of America watch Notre Dame football for a decade.

But that’s another post and a reason to get your own copy.

While it would be easy to make parallels to the state of society with the state of the Bailey household, the struggle to follow the American Dream while still helping others, and the fight against greed embodied in one Mr. Potter, it is the one institution in the movie that I believe gets overlooked in the movie that serves as a great foundation of the community: Bedford Falls High School.

Early in the movie when George’s (Jimmy Stewart) little brother, Harry, goes to his graduation party at the school’s gym, George has a wonderful conversation with his father about living in a small town. It turns out that it would be their last time together as later his father suffers a stroke.

George, in a fit of boredom, decides to go to the graduation party himself. He is welcomed with open arms. Everyone seems to be there. Why? Everyone has toes to the local high school –not just the students who are about to graduate. All relatives, all friends, all community members – in fact, all stakeholders are there.

Sam Wainwright. Marty Hatch. Violet. Even the guy who plays Alfalfa in The Little Rascals is there.


See? Told you.

And of course, Mary Hatch, who becomes Mary Bailey, played by Donna Reed.


There’s the dance. The Charleston contest. And then the pool under the gym floor. Then Alfalfa gets mad because George dances with Mary and gets the key to open the floor and then everybody falls in the water.


As The Herald Journal in my hometown of Greensboro, GA would say, “A good time was had by all.”

Especially George and Mary. They plant a seed that blossoms later into love.

Since they all have wet clothes, they need dry ones. Look Spirit Wear!


But the role of the local school doesn’t stop there.

Harry was a star end on the football team and while George stayed behind to run the Building & Loan after the death of their father, Harry made second team All-American. And even though George still kept his dreams of travel alive, he must have had a good education to be able to keep afloat a business like a finance company that survived the crash that preceded the Great Depression.


With the advent of the Second Great World War, one could imagine that the local school would also play a central role in the community. Some schools served as bomb shelters or places where items like rubber and metal were collected for the war effort. And even if they were not, schools were the constant for so many families going through the Great Depression.

Later in the movie, when Uncle Billy misplaces the money that Potter steals in hopes to finally bankrupt the Bailey Building & Loan, an emotionally distraught George lashes out at Zuzu’s teacher on the phone for supposedly allowing her to come home without a coat in the freezing cold. That leads to a scuffle with the husband of the teacher in Nick’s bar in a later scene as the husband reveals how personal his wife takes her job.


I have not even talked about how George actually had an after-school job when he went to school with Mr. Gower.


If one was to look at the script of It’s A Wonderful Life, then he/she would find the word “school” fourteen times, five are used in stage directions.

But it’s the last time where the word “school” is used that may be the most powerful. It comes when George is granted his wish from Clarence to get his “life back” and return to his family only to find that the town had rallied behind him to raise the money needed to cover the loss of money. It is a stage direction.

Stage Direction – Mr. Partridge, the high school principal, is the next donor.

Then it is followed by an act of what schools sometimes do for their communities – rally for them.

PARTRIDGE: There you are, George. I got the faculty all up out of bed.(hands his watch to Zuzu) And here’s something for you to play with.


Good movie.

Happy Holidays.

“I’m a Krispy Kreme Man!” – A Christmas Eve Musing With Malcolm

Remember that part from O Brother, Where Art Thou? where Ulysses Everett McGill wants his brand of pomade and General Store clerk has only another brand in stock?


Of course you do, and if you haven’t seen the movie you are an uncultured heathen.

Everett: Hold on, I don’t want this pomade. I want Dapper Dan.
Clerk: I don’t carry Dapper Dan, I carry Fop.
Everett: Well, I don’t want Fop, damn it! I’m a Dapper Dan man!
Clerk: Watch your language, young feller, this is a public market. Now if you want Dapper Dan, I can order it for you, have it in a couple of weeks.
Everett: Well, ain’t this place a geographical oddity. Two weeks from everywhere!

Now replace Dapper Dan with Krispy Kreme and Fop with Dunkin Donuts and Everett with Malcolm and you have the exact same dynamic working.

Kids with Down Syndrome are extremely visual in their learning styles; they associate certain sights with certain actions. When Malcolm is in a certain lane on Silas Creek Parkway he automatically assumes he is going to the doctor and his actions reveal his angst. When the van is in the other lane, then he believes he is going to one of his favorite places to eat and a totally different Malcolm appears.

However, when we are anywhere near Stratford Road near Thruway, the boy knows.

If he is sound asleep…

If he is in a tantrum…

If he is in a state of inconsolable pity…

And if we come anywhere near that part of town, a magical light starts glowing in is heart, a smile appears on his face, an angelic gleam comes to his eyes, and a chorus of happiness comes from the backseat –


We are Krispy Kreme people. It’s Winston-Salem. It’s hometown. It’s history.

Now it’s Malcolm’s. He literally walks in, grabs his seat, watches as I go get his glazed donut and jug of milk. I get a coffee and bring him his stuff with a napkin and a straw. He asks to “blow” the straw which means I let him blow the wrapper off at me. Her then eats his donut with precision, drinks some of his milk, and then takes my soffee for himself.

We talk about guy stuff and sometimes be silent together. Time is of no concern. We are bonding.

Two guys in a donut shop, sometimes watching God’s own goodness being created in front of our eyes.

But the time together? That’s Christmas.


The Op-Ed That You Should Read NOW


From the December 23rd issue of the News & Observer out of Raleigh –  “North Carolina is no longer classified as a democracy” by Andrew Reynolds – READ IT!

While eye-opening it is not surprising.

“That North Carolina can no longer call its elections democratic is shocking enough, but our democratic decline goes beyond what happens at election time. The most respected measures of democracy — Freedom House, POLITY and the Varieties of Democracy project — all assess the degree to which the exercise of power depends on the will of the people: That is, governance is not arbitrary, it follows established rules and is based on popular legitimacy.

The extent to which North Carolina now breaches these principles means our state government can no longer be classified as a full democracy.”
Puts another spin on gerrymandering and special sessions? Eh?


Phil Berger and The Beastie Boys

For a country kid from rural Georgia, hearing the Beastie Boys song “Fight For Your Right” for the first time was a bit of a culture shock, but whenever I hear it on the radio it brings back vivid memories of the late 1980’s.

Now, I will admit that “Fight For Your Right” was not an anthem of political power, but that doesn’t mean the Beastie Boys did not get political. They had lots to say and the strength of their musical career an iconic hip-hop group cannot be ignored even by those who disliked their brand of music. They are just the third rap group to enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after Run-D.M.C. and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.

I even remembered the day the Adam “MCA” Yauch died.

This past Wednesday, December 21st, the North Carolina General Assembly convened for its fifth special session of the year, reportedly to “repeal” the HB2 / bathroom bill in response to the city of Charlotte’s recent rescinding of its ordinance that supposedly started this whole mess, at least according to NCGA GOP stalwarts.

Yet, instead of any progress in repealing HB2, what happened was a waste of taxpayer money in a partisan display of undeveloped muscle mass.

Holding a super majority in both the senate and the house of the general assembly, the GOP could have easily passed whatever they may have wanted had they been united; however, Sen. Phil Berger literally could not wrangle his own party into consensus because he introduced the “split-question” and placed a provision for a “cooling-off” period.

Oh, please.

He sabotaged it. And the first song I thought of when the special session was adjourned to shouts of “Shame!” from the protesters? Yep. Beastie Boys.


So queue the record. Turn up the volume.


I can’t stand it I know you planned it
I’m gonna set it straight, this watergate
I can’t stand rocking when I’m in here
Because your crystal ball ain’t so crystal clear
So while you sit back and wonder why
I got this f***ing thorn in my side
Oh my God, it’s a mirage
I’m tellin’ y’all it’s sabotage

So listen up ’cause you can’t say nothin’
You’ll shut me down with a push of your button?
But yo I’m out and I’m gone
I’ll tell you now I keep it on and on

‘Cause what you see you might not get
And we can bet so don’t you get souped yet
You’re scheming on a thing that’s a mirage
I’m trying to tell you now it’s sabotage

Why; our backs are now against the wall
Listen all of y’all it’s a sabotage
Listen all of y’all it’s a sabotage
Listen all of y’all it’s a sabotage
Listen all of y’all it’s a sabotage

I can’t stand it, I know you planned it
But I’m gonna set it straight this watergate
But I can’t stand rockin’ when I’m in this place
Because I feel disgrace because you’re all in my face
But make no mistakes and switch up my channel
I’m buddy rich when I fly off the handle
What could it be, it’s a mirage
You’re scheming on a thing – that’s sabotage


There’s no doubt that “He’s Crafty.” The disaster this special session was beyond “Intergalactic” and just a day of “Pass the Mic.”

The best thing for we North Carolinians to do is to “Get It Together” this next election cycle and “Make Some Noise,” “Shake Your Rump,” and get your “Body Movin’” to the polls and “Fight For Your Right.”

So “Ch Ch Check It Out” or there will be “No Sleep Till Brooklyn.”


P.S. – The video for “Sabotage” is a classic.

Presentation On Life After High School Given to The Senior Class of 2017 on December 21, 2016 With Love… And Complete Faith In Your Generation

I was fortunate to be asked to present to our senior class some items for thought that might serve them well in the years to come after they leave high school. While lighthearted in some places, I will be the first to tell you that I have so much more faith in these young people than I have in many of the adults who run our country.


So here it is.




Dear North Carolina Teachers – These Students Need Us More Than Ever

Every major newspaper in the country covered our state’s special session last week and whether the editorial boards of those news outlets lean conservatively or liberally, North Carolina did not look its best in the eyes of the country.

Add to that the political posturing surrounding the possible repeal of HB2, the “bathroom bill,” which will occur on the heels of the most contentious gubernatorial race in history in which the first sitting governor who ran for reelection was denied that very reelection.

For more texture, consider the gerrymandered districts that will now have elections in 2017 and the Voter ID law that was struck down and you have a state whose government is working against its own people.

And I have not even mentioned all of the educational “reforms” that lawmakers without educational backgrounds have been pushing through in the name of progress like Achievement School Districts, Charter Schools, and vouchers, among others.

Yet, our students still need us. Their parents and guardians need us. The communities need us.

Even the very people in Raleigh who refuse to look at the very reflections of their actions in the mirror of society need us and despite what West Jones Street has done to public education here in North Carolina, you are more needed now than ever.

For those teachers in parts of North Carolina affected by Hurricane Matthew and the wildfires, you are part of the foundation and bedrock that will help put these students’ lives back in order.

For those teachers who teach in schools affected by poverty, you are the providers of the wealth of knowledge and the power of education. You may also be the source of strength and security for many of your students.

If anything, 2016 has shown us that our students need us more than ever.

Any teacher worth his or her mettle can tell you that students are some of the best psychologists in the world. If they sense that a teacher does not want to be in the classroom with them, then they will react to that.

Those teachers who value their students no matter the circumstances and act in the best interests of those students will gain the love and respect of those students.

The same goes for lawmakers and the citizens they serve.

Or it should.