An Open Letter to BEST NC Concerning Meeting With Michelle Rhee -Every Public School Teacher Needs To Be Aware Of This

Dear Mrs. Berg,

As the CEO of BEST NC, you and your team have led a coalition of business leaders who have helped steer the conversation surrounding public education in North Carolina. While many times as a public school teacher I have disagreed with your interpretation and analysis of the variables, causes, and effects that have shaped the public school system, I have appreciated your willingness to converse and exchange viewpoints.

I also have not only read, but studied the materials that BEST NC has released, and I did it with the thought that your coalition’s purpose was to remain non-partisan and open to all sides of the discussion.

As soon as one visits the “About Us” page of your website, best-nc.org, the following appears:

BEST NC is a non-profit, non-partisan coalition of business leaders committed to improving North Carolina’s education system through policy and advocacy. We do this by convening a broad constituency; encouraging collaboration around a shared, bold vision for education; and advocating for policies, research, programs, and awareness that will significantly improve education in North Carolina.

The word “non-partisan” really stands out to me, especially in a state where the public education system has been rather manipulated by partisan ideologies.

And then one can view the “Our Approach” tab and read:

BEST NC is a non-profit, non-partisan coalition of business leaders committed to improving North Carolina’s education system through policy and advocacy. We work to…

  • Convene a broad constituency of education stakeholders,
  • Inform an engaged business community, and
  • Advocate for policies, research, programs, and awareness that will move the needle…
  • …toward a shared, bold vision for education.

The words that resonate most in this are “convene,” “broad constituency,”” advocate,” and “shared vision.”

And while you tout that your group is pro-public education and seeks to “collaborate” with others, news that BEST NC will be holding a “legislative gathering” on February 7th makes me rather suspicious that the non-partisan approach you claim BEST NC maintains is not real.

My suspicion is not caused by the fact you are meeting. It arises because of whom you are meeting with.

In my 18 years of teaching in public schools and in my active advocacy for fully-funded public schools, I have never encountered a more polarizing figure than Michelle Rhee. In fact, I (and many others) consider Ms. Rhee the antithesis of how to approach helping public schools. In every endeavor she has undertaken in “improving” educational outcomes, she has left disunity, damage, and a large void in her wake.

No one really needs to exert much energy to see that her tenure in Washington D. C. was disastrous. She clearly endorses high-stakes testing, elimination of due-process rights, and the closing of schools she deems unsuccessful because she values a test grade over student growth.

No one really needs to dig deep and realize that her Project IMPACT initiative in Washington DC has been widely scrutinized because of the use of a “carrot and stick” mentality and its adherence to “teaching toward a test,” both of which run counter to the very premise of having a “skilled citizenry.” Michelle Rhee simply champions efforts to make teachers “jump” through hoops to get students to do well on arbitrary tests rather than empowering students to grow in their skills. It pays no attention to other factors that affect student achievement like poverty, lack of funding, overcrowding, all of which exist widely in North Carolina.

However, it is what she stands for now that is even more frightening considering current trends in North Carolina. As a strong advocate for charter school growth and vouchers for private schools, Ms. Rhee represents efforts to privatize public institutions which runs counter to our state’s constitution which your site quotes.

The General Assembly shall provide by taxation and otherwise for a general and uniform system of free public schools… wherein equal opportunities shall be provided for all students.– Article IX, Section 2(1), North Carolina Constitution

The invitation to include George Parker only reinforces that BEST NC is uniting champions of school choice and value added measurements with lawmakers and business leaders who can further those causes. You claim in Billy Ball’s article in NC Policy Watch (1/27),

“The legislative gathering is always closed to media, always has and always will be as a promise to members. Because they want to feel comfortable asking elected officials and experts candid questions off the record.” – See more at: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2017/01/27/public-education-advocates-cry-foul-legislators-private-meeting-controversial-school-reformer-michelle-rhee/#sthash.Zn4WUvda.vHutAkcx.dpuf

So much for open dialogue and collaboration. In fact, it makes it all appear that it is part of a larger agenda.

Consider the timing. The election cycle has just passed. Gerrymandering has enabled the GOP to maintain majorities in the NC General Assembly. We have a president who champions school choice and vouchers. North Carolina already has been infected with several “reforms” and our state is a “right-to-work” state which has no unions, contrary to what Mr. Ball reported.

And the two groups that will not be involved in your “candid” discussion are the two groups who have the biggest stake in public education: public school teachers and the public.

Ball’s article later reports,

“Still, Berg said there’s nothing secretive or inappropriate about BEST N.C.’s gathering with Rhee and lawmakers, which she described as a reception with a guest speaker, followed by a brief Q&A session. No state policies will be on the table; nor will legislators be holding a discussion of state public policy.

“The beauty of this is we want our members to ask really blunt questions,” said Berg. She acknowledged, however, that she’s not surprised, given the press attention surrounding Rhee’s education reforms, that some would be anxious over her attendance.

“I don’t have concern with people being upset about the national speaker,” Berg said. “She shut down schools. That made some people mad.”

When it comes to public education, “blunt” questions do need to be asked, but those discussions need to involve all parties.

  • Why is this “legislative gathering” about public institutions and public monies so secretive?
  • Why allow someone who clearly does not have a good track record with actually improving schools come and educate selected people who can make critical decisions about our public schools?
  • Why not have these discussions with actual scholars in educational research? Have they been invited?
  • Why are there not any teachers or teacher groups involved in this?

 

There are very concrete reasons why people would be “upset about the national speaker.”

But I am more upset that a group that supposedly celebrates open discussion and collaboration would broker a meeting such as this when what will be discussed are most certainly reform ideas that run counter to really improving public schools and still profit a selected few.

That is the reason that I am writing you. And that is the reason that I am making this an open letter in hopes that all public school teachers can learn more about what might be happening when a known privatizer who devalues teachers is coming to speak with the very lawmaking group that crafts how well public schools are resourced and how teachers are treated.

That is the reason I am also asking that you reconsider actually having this meeting with Michelle Rhee or make it more open to other stakeholders because BEST NC’s credibility as being “non-partisan” will suffer.

It certainly has changed my opinion of BEST NC.

 

Don’t Fall For The “Status Quo” Fallacy Concerning Public Education

The term “status quo” has become something of a nebulous term for public education and has evolved into a powerful logical fallacy used by reformers.

Consider the following:

The heat is already intense not just because it involves the future of our children but also because a lot of money is at stake. Essentially, it’s a debate between those in the education establishment who support the status quo because they have a financial stake in the system and those who seek to challenge the status quo because it’s not serving kids well.” – Mitt Romney in the Washington Post, January 6, 2017.

We just can’t accept the status quo in education anymore.” – Sen. Joe Lieberman at DeVos hearing, January 16, 2017.

Asked by George Stephanopoulos what the single most important thing teachers could do to ensure the success of the Common Core, Gates’ answer was simple: The status quo must go. “Grasping the standards requires more than just the standards being present themselves, and disrupting the status quo is key to maximizing individual attention available to each student to ensure their success.”– “Bill Gates: Common Core misunderstood by opponents” (http://www.educationdive.com/news/bill-gates-common-core-misunderstood-by-opponents/239635/).

The above three quotes have one term in common – “status quo”.

The above three quotes also state that the “status quo” of public education is not acceptable and there must be changed.

Except, what really is the “status quo?”

What Romney, Lieberman, and Gates consider the “status quo” is intrinsically linked to a final product, measured by standardized testing and other mercurial measurements.

However, the real “status quo” is not really linked to that final product. It is more a reflection of the constant infusion of reform models that have altered the process by which public schools have been able to teach our children. The truth is that the existing state of public education is always being subjected to scrutiny, modification, alteration, and change from outside forces for political or profit-minded reasons.

What I would consider the “status quo” is the commitment to flux and change to the variables that measure student achievement and school success by people outside of the actual education process. And in that regard, I do agree that the status quo should change.

Again and again each has misinterpreted the situation of public education because there really has been no “status quo” in public education. If anything, the terrain of public education has been in a state of constant flux for the past thirty years. With the “Nation at Risk” report to “No Child Left Behind” to the advent of high stakes testing to the innumerable business models infused into education to “Race to the Top” to Common Core to charter school movement to vouchers, the thought of even calling what we have had in our country “status quo” is not just wrong –

It’s ignorant. And it is purposefully done.

And all of those causes in the change to the “status quo” were not necessarily brought by educators as much as by politicians and business leaders, titles that the three gentlemen mentioned before wear. And the very actions that have caused their version “status quo” are allowing politicians to blame public education for failing to hit targets that are constantly moving or in many cases invisible so that “leaders” and reformers can come and claim to save the day.

That’s how we get Betsy DeVos, the most unqualified candidate for secretary of education, as an appointee of a president who touts his business acumen.

If one were to simply look at all of the initiatives introduced into public education (both nationally and state-based) while considering changes in curriculum and requirements, that person would see an ever changing landscape.

If one were to track all of the tests that have been constructed, graded, and disseminated by “experts” outside of public education, that person would see that measurements that grade students and schools are like invisible targets constantly being moved without any warning.

Ironically, the conversation about changing the “status-quo” in public education has been fueled more by the business world and politicians who have been altering the terrain of public education with “reforms.”

When entities like the Gates Foundation, the Walton Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the American Federation of Children, the American Legislation Exchange Council (ALEC), think tanks, and other PAC’s are constantly promoting reforms in public schools, the idea that there is a “status quo” becomes implausible.

There are too many people intentionally stirring the pot of public education and then complaining that something else should be added to the mix.

A Nation at Risk, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Every Student Succeeds Act, Common Core, SAT, ACT, standardized tests, achievement gap, graduation rates, merit pay, charter schools, parent triggers, vouchers, value added-measurements, virtual schools, Teach For America, formal evaluations – there are so many variables, initiatives, and measurements that constantly change without consistency which all affect public schools and how the public perceives those schools.

If there is any “status quo” associated with the public schools, it’s that there are always outside forces acting on the public school system which seek to show that they are failing our kids.

That’s the status quo that should not be accepted.

Praise The Lard and Pass The Retribution – An Amazon.com Wish List for Sen. Joyce Krawiec

“Praise the lard and pass the retribution
Need a little bit more
Cause this pan needs greasin’
I don’t know where I’ll be ordering’
But it’s arrivin’ on a mail wagon.”

– Apologies to the Dixie Chicks for the small rewrite of “Sin Wagon”

If you remember the now famous tweet from State Sen. Joyce Krawiec, you know that lard has become a hot commodity in North Carolina.

joyce1

So much so that it was reported in the Winston-Salem Journal‘s website this evening that,

“By Thursday morning, at least 10 boxes of lard had been sent to the Krawiec’s office in Raleigh, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. Many more packages could arrive today thanks to overnight delivery, according to posts on social media” (http://www.journalnow.com/news/local/kernersville-republican-who-insulted-marchers-receives-buckets-of-lard-in/article_426ac698-0541-5a33-9432-a168b36733b7.html).

I would say that such a gesture is priceless, but it’s actually not. Because later in the article it makes reference to a purchase by an individual on Amazon for lard to be sent to the senator.

Several Amazon users commented on different lard products that they had purchased for the senator, including a 64 ounce container of Armour Lard that sells for $16.

One user, ZimZimZimmer, wrote: “I just sent four pounds to (Krawiec’s) Senate Office in Raleigh and couldn’t be more delighted with my purchase! Highly recommend!!!!”

 

Sixteen bucks to make a statement? That’s a deal.

And yes, the reviews for lard on Amazon are really well stated unlike Krawiec’s original tweet.

lard1

Another review for another lard product:

 

lard2

 

But I still can’t really get past the greasy, non-stick apology and explanation that Sen. Krawiec offered in response to the deserved and quite swift reaction to her now-famous twitter.

joyce5

She also tweeted, ““I apologize. I apologize. I was only talking to those who acted inappropriately. Forgive me, please. Twitter lesson learned.”

Buit who was acting inappropriately according to Krawiec?

Then I found this.

A blog post written by Krawiec on her MouthoftheSouth blog (www.mouthofhesouth.wordpress.com) entitled “FEMINISTS FOR WOMEN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE. WHO SAYS?

It’s eye-opening and revealing. Here it is. From 2009. Over seven years ago.

lard3

You should read it. I have put a copy of her posting at the end of this post, but here are some of the highlights.

  • “Women were told they were used and abused if they “chose” to stay home and answer the highest calling a woman can have, to be a mother and teach and nurture.  This group has even equated motherhood to slavery. “
  • “These organizations, such as National Organization of Women (Now), have been reduced to hypocrisy in the highest sense.”
  • ” These women believe that everything in the workplace is sexual harassment.  That is, unless you are a powerful man who tows the feminist’s line.”
  • The mind is so open, perhaps the brains have tumbled out.”
  •  These liberal women’s groups paint women as being unable to make a decision for themselves on anything except abortion.”
  • These liberal women’s groups paint women as being unable to make a decision for themselves on anything except abortion.”
  • Although, there is a lot of data out there to support the notion that women, very often, “choose”professions that are less demanding and therefore, the pay scale is usually lower.”
  • Most of the mainstream media aren’t really interested in what real women have to say.  They usually feature the radical feminist organizations that have a political and social agenda that fits the media ideology.”
  • Most of us women have been busy taking care of our families, working in our communities and sometimes in our businesses, making the world go round, while these feminists have pretended to make a difference.  They’ve made a difference all right, and it ain’t a pretty sight.”

You can read below in the entire posting what she says about being “pro-choice” and abortion.

And she is entitled to say whatever she wants, but as a public official she puts herself willingly under a microscope, and this has exposed her as someone who seems out of touch with what happened last Saturday as millions of women on all seven continents (yes, Antarctica as well) peacefully demonstrated on women’s roles in society.

More feminists showed up in DC for the march than did people go to the inauguration for Donald Trump, whom Krawiec endorsed even after his famous locker room recording.

It’s simple hypocrisy by a woman who pretends to be a public servant.

And the gifts of lard are appropriate because not only can lard grease a skillet, it can be used as fuel, used to lubricate pieces of machinery, cooking, baking, and even for soap – to wash away the stain of pretense.

And it can also serve as a medicinal balm that can be applied to burned areas that have been scorched by bad tweets and double-standards.

Seems like the senator could use a lot of that lard.

And amazon.com has it for a decent price.

lard4

16$!

Or send the senator a Dixie Chicks album. This one is my favorite.

lard5

 

“Soon my husband and I will celebrate our 48th wedding anniversary.  There was a time when that was expected.  You married your true love and lived happily ever after.  Well, you lived together ever after anyway, whether happily or not.  Now, I realize that my husband and I are exceptions to the rule.  We’re special.  He sure is, anyway.

 Today it is too commonplace that families no longer stay together.  The divorce rate is way too high.  I’m not sure if anyone knows what it is. We can all agree, however, just from our personal knowledge, that the figure is way too high.

When I asked my husband why our marriage had lasted, he said, “what, are you crazy?  Why would you ever get rid of someone like me?”  He has a point.

Feminist ideology, which has strayed so far from its original goals, can share some blame for the decline in the traditional American family.  Women were told they were used and abused if they “chose” to stay home and answer the highest calling a woman can have, to be a mother and teach and nurture.  This group has even equated motherhood to slavery.  These feminists are in favor of any form of support, charity, welfare, etc., except a father in the home taking care of the family. Women were told, “do your own thing,” and men were told, “you aren’t responsible, it’s a woman’s choice” (in all matters).

This ideology teaches that the most important goal in life, is personal fulfillment and happiness.  When people are more concerned with their own self-gratification than the family as a unit, the results are inevitable.  Everyone Loses.  A family thrives when the individual units put the family unit as a whole in the priority position and work to make it survive.  Everyone Wins.

 The so-called women’s movement was founded to address some serious issues. It has now strayed so far off base, it has become irrelevant.  These organizations, such as National Organization of Women (Now), have been reduced to hypocrisy in the highest sense.  Their leaders do not speak for most women, yet those are the main voices we hear in the mainstream media stage show.

 These women believe that everything in the workplace is sexual harassment.  That is, unless you are a powerful man who tows the feminist’s line.  For example, say President of the United States who receives sexual favors from a lowly intern. On this issue, I once heard the NOW President speak of keeping an open mind. Perhaps, therein lies the problem. The mind is so open, perhaps the brains have tumbled out.

 These liberal women’s groups paint women as being unable to make a decision for themselves on anything except abortion.  The only reason we could possible make less money than a man is because men are discriminating against us. 

It never occurs to them that it just could be the “choices” we make. Although, there is a lot of data out there to support the notion that women, very often, “choose”professions that are less demanding and therefore, the pay scale is usually lower. It shouldn’t matter to anyone, what jobs women tend to seek, as long as it is her “choice”.

 Why, I wonder, are these women always touted out to speak for women?  I believe they represent only a small minority of women and “women’s issues” are the same issues that are important to all members of the family.  Surprise! Feminists, most women put their family first and want what is best for the unit as a whole.

 I belong to several women’s organizations that has a membership to make the NOW gang look like an afternoon tea party. Strangely enough, with many alternate media organizations now available, these leaders in these groups are finally being asked for opinions on the issues of the day concerning women. Most of the mainstream media aren’t really interested in what real women have to say.  They usually feature the radical feminist organizations that have a political and social agenda that fits the media ideology.

 Leftist women’s groups have preached the virtues of “pro choice” when it comes to abortion.  But when women make decisions regarding their choice of professions to pursue, it just couldn’t possibly be “choice” keeping them on the lower rung of the corporate ladder.

Nor could we little women, who are so suppressed, be allowed to “choose” the schools that those little ones we “choose” to birth and nurture should attend. But that’s for another day and another column.

Most of us women have been busy taking care of our families, working in our communities and sometimes in our businesses, making the world go round, while these feminists have pretended to make a difference.  They’ve made a difference all right, and it ain’t a pretty sight.”

 

I Will Not Write Joyce Krawiec About Her Tweet Concerning The Women’s March, But I Will…

I am not going to write Sen. Joyce Krawiec a letter concerning her statement in a recent tweet that belittled the women who marched in the Women’s March this past Saturday which looked something like this:

joyce1

I am not going remark to her that using Twitter allows for your comments to be seen by everybody and that tweets can get people in a little bit of trouble.

joyce2

 

I am not going to remind Joyce Krawiec that on her Twitter description she identifies herself as someone who defends the constitution and attaches herself to #Christian #Conservative #Constitution hashtags.

joyce3

I am not going to tell the state senator that in her tweet she actually was attacking the constitutional rights of those women who were participating, specifically the First Amendment.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

I am not going to remind Joyce Krawiec that not a single woman or individual in any of the marches associated with the Women’s Day March was arrested and that they all had the right to congregate.

joyce4

I am not going to remind the state senator that freedom of speech means that one can use vulgarity. Considering that she endorsed a man to become president who frequently used it and has exhibited lewd behavior, she seems to be selectively judging others even though the Bible teaches her not to do so.

“I think he’s going to make America great again. I believe that he will do what he says he will do” – Se. Kraweic on Trump, July 24th, 2016 for Fox8.

“Grab them by the pussy” – Donald Trump 2005.

I will not remind the senator that protesting as a group of civic minded people is about as grassroots as it gets in America.

“Joyce Krawiec is a small business owner, grassroots activist, and life long Republican. As a believer in the grassroots, Joyce has dedicated her time and efforts to holding government accountable to the people of North Carolina” – from http://www.joyceforsenate.com/.

I will not remind Joyce Krawiec that she of all people does not get to decide what the right reasons are for people to congregate.

joyce5

And will not tell her that her excuse for what she tweeted is because she is new to twitter is utter bullshit considering when she joined Twitter and how many tweets she has already sent out from her personal account.

joyce6

Nor will I tell her that her tweet literally went against that credo of restoring freedom and liberty.

And that I have a hard time remembering how to spell her name.

I will simply tweet it and send her one of those pink hats.

joyce7

With her name knitted on it.

Spelled incorrectly.

 

Verbal Iocane – What The Princess Bride Can Teach Us Besides Turning Archetypes Upside Down

Everyone should see the Princess Bride at some time in their lives.

There’s that kid from the Wonder Years, Andre the Giant, the minister, Jenny from Forrest Gump, and the guy who tries to take Tom Cruise’s sponsorship in Days of Thunder.

“Inconceivable!”

In it there is the encounter that Westley (as the Dread Pirate Roberts) and Vizzini ( a cerebral guy) have that is eventually settled with a “battle of wits.”

Man in Black: “What you do not smell is called iocane powder. It is odorless, tasteless, dissolves instantly in liquid, and is among the more deadlier poisons known to man. All right. Where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right… and who is dead.”

princess-bride-1

Westley wins and Princess Buttercup inquires as to how he won.

Man in Black: “They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocane powder.”

Words. Just like Hamlet says in Act II when he begins his descent into feigned and/or real madness,

“Words, words, words.”

But these words come with ominous imagery.

Words used to paint an unrealistic landscape in such a way that you see it without any single cue.

Like ill-fated, cacophonous, dystopian words that can be poison, except in this case they are still tasteless, dissolve instantly in the ears, but maintain a certain stench if you keep your senses together.

But you don’t ever want to build an immunity to them.

You want to hear them and listen to what they say.

And make a decision whether to believe them or not.

Donald Trump’s inaugural speech cast a shadow over an America that I don’t entirely agree exists exclusively from so many positives that we have. He does identify some elements that are truthful, but in the speech he used some words that if repeated enough will become so common to our lexicon of how we describe our country that we will become almost immune from the shock of hearing them.

The text of his inauguration speech is at the end of this post for reference and I will highlight some words that Trump uses to help maybe “poison” our minds to how we view our country.

Philip Bump wrote a very interesting post in “The Fix” blog run by The Washington Post on January 20th entitled “Trump’s inaugural address was demonstrably bleak” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/01/20/trumps-inaugural-address-was-demonstrably-bleak/?utm_term=.7ea9dd03391c).

This is the kind of article that begs to be talked about, especially in the scope of a lens that is called DIDLS – diction, imagery, details, language, and syntax.

I will quote from Bump,

“Earlier this week, we cataloged each of those prior addresses, building a tool allowing you to search them and see how the expressions the presidents used were in and out of vogue over time.

It also allows us to see which terms were used by Trump but not by any president prior. The words below constitute that list.

sprawl, ignored, windswept, overseas, tombstones, rusted-out, trapped, neighborhoods, landscape, flush, carnage, unrealized, robbed, stolen, likes, listening, hardships, transferring, politicians, reaped, stops, subsidized, disagreements, bedrock, Islamic, reinforce, solidarity, unstoppable, brown, mysteries, arrives, politicians, hire, infrastructure, trillions, depletion, allowing, disrepair, redistributed, tunnels, stealing, ravages, issuing, bleed

There have been variants on those words used in the past: politician (William Henry Harrison, 1841), ravage (Richard Nixon, 1969) or hardship (used in both of Barack Obama’s). Others, though, are totally unique to Trump.

“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

“…rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation”

“Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities…”

“…the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.”

“whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots…”

“America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay…”

And the speech was a constant dosage of this negativity without much to neutralize its power to people who simply believe what they hear without listening.

The fear I have is that more of us will become desensitized to the words so that they become so common place that any change in the dialogue in the future will automatically constitute growth and rejuvenation. And that’s something I personally believe Trump wants us to associate with him.

Simply paint a negative picture, dim the lights, and play ominous music to set the mood. We the people become desensitized and make it the wallpaper of our lives.

Then new brighter colors are used, the lights are turned up, and the music becomes happier and more upbeat. And who did that for us?

Possibly the person who painted the original picture.

If words can be like iocane powder, I hope that I never build an immunity to them. I hope the ear that hears them, the brain that interprets them, and the mind that listens to them will allow them to have as much power the thousandth time it is used as they have the first time.

Some already do.

“I love you.”

“Daddy.”

When I hear strong words used to describe something I want to be able to identify them.

“Iocane. I’d bet my life on it.”

Prince Humperdinck knows it when he senses it. And while he is a bit of an ass and an antagonist to the Princess Buttercup and Westley, he is keen enough to know what has happened.

princess-bride-2

If you become desensitized to the rhetoric then you might become “mostly dead” to what is good in this country. Don’t let something “inconceivable” block you from your “true wuv.”

And watch the other movies that have that six-fingered man in them. Waiting For Guffman and Best in Show are two of the greatest movies ever made.

Speech:

“Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans and people of the world, thank you.

We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people. Together we will determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come. We will face challenges. We will confront hardships, but we will get the job done. Every four years we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent. Thank you.

Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning because, today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people.

For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have born the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs and, while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you. It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day. This is your celebration, and this, the United States of America, is your country.

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

Everyone is listening to you now. You came by the tens of millions to become part of an historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before. At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public, but for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists.

Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation, an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

We are one nation and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home and one glorious destiny. The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans. For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.

We’ve defended other nations’ borders, while refusing to defend our own, and spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas, while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon. One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind. The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.

But, that is the past and now we are looking only to the future. We assembled here today, are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first. America first. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families.

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body and I will never, ever let you down.

America will start winning again. Winning like never before. We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams. We will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation. We will get our people off of welfare and back to work rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor. We will follow two simple rules: buy American and hire American. We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.

We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow. We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth. At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America and, through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.

The bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when god’s people live together in unity. We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable. There should be no fear. We are protected and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and most importantly, we will be protected by God.

Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger. In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving. We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action constantly complaining, but never doing anything about it. The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action. Do not allow anyone to tell you that it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America. We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.

We stand at the birth of a new millennium ready to unlock the histories of space, to free the earth from the miseries of disease and to harness the energies, industries, and technologies of tomorrow. A new national pride will lift our sights and heal our divisions. It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots. We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American flag.

And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky. They fill their heart with the same dreams and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator. So, to all Americans in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words: You will never be ignored again. Your voice, your hopes and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.

Together we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And, yes, together, we will make America great again. Thank you. God bless you and god bless America. Thank you. God bless America.”

The Tautology of Betsy DeVos – Or, Why I Don’t Want Her Teaching or Instructing An English Class

Forget the agony.

Forget the use of the wrong word to describe something that is not even a proper noun!

Forget the wrong preposition!

Forget the incorrect capitalization (if you are a journalist)!

But oh, the tautology! That is the dagger.

What the hell is “tautology?”

Alrighty then, just google it.

Noun: the saying of the same thing twice in different words, generally considered to be a fault of style (e.g., they arrived one after the other in succession ).

“Tautology.” A word that my students forget but come across examples of all of the time.

That’s what really burns my ass in this instance. Or should I say, that really burns and sets fire to my ass.

Several people have sent this to me today and I do find it hilarious, especially since it is so steeped with irony that it drips like Velveeta. Sorry, drips like Velveeta and processed cheese product melted in a microwave.

tautology

I understand that the written word and the spoken word are two different languages, but if you are someone who is looking to be the secretary of education, then you might want to obey the conventions of the English language and the rules of grammar in a more careful manner.

Oh crap! I just did it myself.

And yes, the “p” in President should not be capitalized unless it is in front of an actual person’s name according to some style manuals, especially the Chicago Style. But some style manuals may say that it is already a specific person, so it should be capitalized. Maybe put the red pen up for that one, but the other stuff is just wet sand in the underwear of grammar police and those who hold language rules near and close to the heart.

Dammit.

If there is a lesson and moral to be learned and studied here, then it is that people in highly visible and observable positions and stations in society and humanity should pay close attention and consideration to how they may “come across” and allow others to see and view them.

I know.

I’ve caught it myself and contracted it.

Stop reading this post, because tautology, pleonasm, repetition, reiteration, redundancy, superfluity, and duplication of words and phrases is highly contagious.

And infectious.

Excuse Me Mr. Barista? May I Have Some More Spicer in My Sycophant Latte? – Or, The Making of a New SNL Skit

First it was about the size of the hands.

Now it’s about the size of the crowd.

New Press Secretary Sean Spicer made his first appearance as Trump’s mouthpiece on Saturday during a day of protest with the Women’s March on Washington and other metropolitan/urban venues.

sean-spicer

And he sounded like he was a mad elementary school child who was caught in a lie and was trying to fib his way out of it.

Simply put, he sounded like an “angry elf.”

elf-angry

Actually, Sean Spicer is average height, but Buddy would have called him that anyway.

  • The tone.
  • The stance.
  • The words.
  • The angry pauses.
  • The false claims.
  • The attitude.
  • The atmosphere.
  • The “I’m so mad, I could just spit” kind of feeling.

And with it he set a tenor for the presidency of Donald Trump. But he also gave even more fuel to two different movements that just might meld into one.

First, his words did nothing more than cry out, “We can’t accept that more people showed up to protest the new president’s inauguration than actually came to the inauguration.”

Sorry, Sean. All reports pretty much say that more people came to show disgust today than to come and cheer Trump yesterday.

Secondly, he came in front of the media to state that the media is wrong in its reporting.

I am not a journalist, but married to a professional journalist and I have many friends in the newspaper business. They take the job very seriously, and while there are a few publications that are really out for sales and demonizing like Steve Bannon’s Breitbart News, journalists tend to hold the First Amendment very strongly like Alex Jones claims to hold the Second Amendment.

Mr. Spicer just added more impetus to focus even more of a microscope on the Trump presidency. Mr. Spicer just reemphasized to journalists the very power that they have.

Trump’s press conference last week when he blasted CNN for “fake news” probably made CNN’s ratings go up. Interestingly, CNN broke the story that led to the fall of Monica Crowley when they discovered plagiarism in both her book and her doctoral dissertation.

What Spicer did was really pick an unknowing fight with something that might be bigger than he or Trump – the press.

They are galvanized and ready to ask a lot of questions.

The following is the transcript of Spicer’s “press conference.” Judge for yourself, but it is funny that he thanks journalists for being there and that he will see them later on Monday after he just finished belittling the profession.

Then go and read other accounts – other news outlets – CNN, MSNBC, FOX, ABC, BBC, etc. See what they say.

But if I DIDLS (look for diction, imagery, details or lack thereof, language, and syntax) Spicer’s spiel, then I come to one and one/half conclusions – bruised ego with a side of fear.

That fear is that it is all very real now with no “do overs.”

Good evening.  Thank you guys for coming.  I know our first official press briefing is going to be on Monday, but I wanted to give you a few updates on the President’s activities.  But before I get to the news of the day, I think I’d like to discuss a little bit of the coverage of the last 24 hours.

Yesterday, at a time when our nation and the world was watching the peaceful transition of power and, as the President said, the transition and the balance of power from Washington to the citizens of the United States, some members of the media were engaged in deliberately false reporting.  For all the talk about the proper use of Twitter, two instances yesterday stand out.

One was a particular egregious example in which a reporter falsely tweeted out that the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office.  After it was pointed out that this was just plain wrong, the reporter casually reported and tweeted out and tried to claim that a Secret Service agent must have just been standing in front of it.  This was irresponsible and reckless.

Secondly, photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall.  This was the first time in our nation’s history that floor coverings have been used to protect the grass on the Mall.  That had the effect of highlighting any areas where people were not standing, while in years past the grass eliminated this visual.  This was also the first time that fencing and magnetometers went as far back on the Mall, preventing hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the Mall as quickly as they had in inaugurations past.

Inaccurate numbers involving crowd size were also tweeted.  No one had numbers, because the National Park Service, which controls the National Mall, does not put any out.  By the way, this applies to any attempts to try to count the number of protestors today in the same fashion.

We do know a few things, so let’s go through the facts.  We know that from the platform where the President was sworn in, to 4th Street, it holds about 250,000 people.  From 4th Street to the media tent is about another 220,000.  And from the media tent to the Washington Monument, another 250,000 people.  All of this space was full when the President took the Oath of Office.  We know that 420,000 people used the D.C. Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 that used it for President Obama’s last inaugural.  This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe.  Even the New York Times printed a photograph showing a misrepresentation of the crowd in the original Tweet in their paper, which showed the full extent of the support, depth in crowd, and intensity that existed.

These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.  The President was also at the — as you know, the President was also at the Central Intelligence Agency and greeted by a raucous overflow crowd of some 400-plus CIA employees.  There were over 1,000 requests to attend, prompting the President to note that he’ll have to come back to greet the rest.  The employees were ecstatic that he’s the new Commander-in-Chief, and he delivered them a powerful and important message.  He told them he has their back, and they were grateful for that.  They gave him a five-minute standing ovation at the end in a display of their patriotism and their enthusiasm for his presidency.

I’d also note that it’s a shame that the CIA didn’t have a CIA Director to be with him today when he visited, because the Democrats have chosen — Senate Democrats are stalling the nomination of Mike Pompeo and playing politics with national security.  That’s what you guys should be writing and covering, instead of sowing division about tweets and false narratives.

The President is committed to unifying our country, and that was the focus of his inaugural address.  This kind of dishonesty in the media, the challenging — that bringing about our nation together is making it more difficult.

There’s been a lot of talk in the media about the responsibility to hold Donald Trump accountable.  And I’m here to tell you that it goes two ways.  We’re going to hold the press accountable, as well.  The American people deserve better.  And as long as he serves as the messenger for this incredible movement, he will take his message directly to the American people where his focus will always be.

And with that, a few other updates from the day.  The President had a constructive conversation with Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada about strengthening the relationship between our two nations.  They also discussed setting up additional meetings in the days to come, which we will follow up on.  He also spoke to Prime Minister Peña Nieto of Mexico, and talked about a visit on trade, immigration and security that will occur on the 31st.  The President will welcome his first foreign leader this Thursday when the United Kingdom’s Theresa May will come to Washington — on Friday.

Tomorrow, the President will oversee his Assistants to the President being sworn in.  The staff will then have an ethics briefing, a briefing on the proper use and handling of classified information.  Further updates as far as what he will do — oh, and then in the evening, he will have a reception for law enforcement and first responders that helped support the inauguration.

Thank you guys for being here tonight.  I will see you on Monday.

Mr. Spicer, you just became a new character on Saturday Night Live.

Taking Dolorous Umbrage at Betsy DeVos With No Apologies to Dolores Umbridge, But I Miss Alan Rickman

When you teach a number of years coupled with the fact that social media has become such a mainstay in our culture, you have the opportunity to stay connected with former students much more easily.

It is rather a humbling that these younger people (younger than I) would want to tell you about how their lives are progressing: their victories, their obstacles, their journeys.

And they also share with you their observations of the world and its changes.

And then there are the memes. One of my more outgoing former students who happens to be a fantastic dramatist as well sent me the following meme in response to Betsy DeVos’s recent appointment and hearing in front of the HELP committee.

It’s rather brilliant.

decree-0

(Credit:?)

And funny. I do not know who the credit should go to, but if you find out, then let me know.

Here are two women who have no real experience with public education (or the education of wizards) and no IDEA of what growth is versus proficiency. Entitled with the power of a ministry, both women have a certain agenda to force into schools that seems more in line with their own personal ideologies rather than the public benefit.

And then there are the standards that each strives to put in place within the schools.

For Dolores Umbridge it was the use of Educational Decrees. Defined by the Harry Potter Wiki website (http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Educational_Decree), these decrees are,

“The Educational Decrees are laws created by the Ministry of Magic to set or modify standards at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

…the Ministry (spearheaded by Dolores Umbridge) created new educational decrees to suppress and outlaw behaviour of which the Ministry did not approve, some of which would outright expel the students found to be in transgression of. In truth, however, is just an excuse to strip Albus Dumbledore of his headship of the school and give it to Umbridge.”

decree1

In the book the Educational Decrees were as follows (thanks to Harry Potter Neoseeker – http://harrypotter.neoseeker.com/wiki/Educational_Decrees).

  • Educational Decree Number Twenty-four: All Student Organizations, Societies, Teams, Groups, and Clubs are henceforth disbanded. An Organization, Society, Team, Group, or Club is hereby defined as a regular meeting of three or more students. Permission to re-form may be sought from the High Inquisitor (Professor Umbridge). No Student Organization, Society, Team, Group, or Club may exist without the knowledge and approval of the High Inquisitor. Any student found to have formed, or to belong to, an Organization, Society, Team Group, or Club that has not been approved by the High Inquisitor will be expelled.
  • Educational Decree Number Twenty-five: The High Inquisitor will henceforth have supreme authority over all punishments, sanctions and removal of privileges pertaining to the students of Hogwarts, and the power to alter such punishments, sanctions and removals of privileges as may have been placed by other staff members.
  • Educational Decree Number Twenty-six: Teachers are hereby banned from giving students any information that is not strictly related to the subjects they are paid to teach.
  • Educational Decree Number Twenty-seven: Any student found in possession of the magazine The Quibbler will be expelled.
  • Educational Decree Number Twenty-eight: Dolores Jane Umbridge (High Inquisitor) has replaced Albus Dumbledore as the Head of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

And in the movie where so many got to meet Dolores Umbridge in a more personal way, these decrees were more numerous and amended somewhat. (Again, thanks to Harry Potter Neoseeker – http://harrypotter.neoseeker.com/wiki/Educational_Decrees).

  • Educational Decree Number 22 – In the event of the current Headmaster being unable to provide a candidate for a teaching post, the Ministry should select an appropriate person.
  • Educational Decree Number 23 – Dolores Jane Umbridge has been appointed to the post of Hogwarts High Inquisitor.
  • Educational Decree Number 24 – NO MUSIC IS TO BE PLAYED DURING Study Hours.
  • Educational Decree Number 25 – The High Inquisitor will henceforth have supreme authority over all punishments, sanctions and removal of privileges pertaining to the students of Hogwarts, and the power to alter such punishments, sanctions and removals of privileges as may have been placed by other staff members.
  • Educational Decree Number 26 – Teachers are hereby banned from giving students any information that is not strictly related to the subjects they are paid to teach.
  • Educational Decree Number 27 – Any student found in possession of the magazine The Quibbler will be expelled.
  • Educational Decree Number 29 – Although never actually passed, it was mentioned by Argus Filch, and would have presumably allowed Filch to torture the students as a punishment.
  • Educational Decree Number 30 – ALL WEASLEY PRODUCTS WILL BE BANNED IMMEDIATELY.
  • Educational Decree Number 45 – PROPER DRESS & DECORUM IS TO BE maintained AT ALL TIMES.
  • Educational Decree Number 68 – All Student Organizations, Societies, Teams, Groups, and Clubs are henceforth disbanded. An Organization, Society, Team, Group, or Club is hereby defined as a regular meeting of three or more students. Permission to re-form may be sought from the High Inquisitor (Professor Umbridge). No Student Organization, Society, Team, Group, or Club may exist without the knowledge and approval of the High Inquisitor. Any student found to have formed, or to belong to, an Organization, Society, Team, Group, or Club that has not been approved by the High Inquisitor will be expelled.
  • Educational Decree Number 82 – ALL STUDENTS WILL SUBMIT TO QUESTIONING ABOUT Suspected ILLICIT Activities.
  • Educational Decree Number 98 – THOSE WISHING TO JOIN THE INQUISITORIAL SQUAD for Extra Credit May sign up in the High Inquisitor’s OFFICE.

decree5decree2

While I cannot confirm if DeVos has an affinity for cats or for the color pink or office décor centered on putting plates on the wall, it is this adherence to the wishes of the “ministry” where she and Umbridge have a magical connection.

Since Cornelius Fudge is the Minister For Magic who places Umbridge in her educational post, he directs what Hogwarts can and cannot do in the classrooms. In fact, Umbridge on many occasions simply talks about herself as an extension of Fudge within Hogwarts.

“I am sorry, dear, but to question my practices is to question the Ministry, and by extension, the Minister himself. I am a tolerant woman, but the one thing I will not stand for is disloyalty.”

“Your previous instruction in this subject has been disturbingly uneven. But you will be pleased to know from now on, you will be following a carefully structured, Ministry-approved course of defensive magic. Yes?”

“It is the view of the Ministry that a theoretical knowledge will be sufficient to get you through your examinations, which after all, is what school is all about.”

Now that’s loyalty.

Betsy DeVos in her confirmation hearing stated her allegiance with her own Cornelius Fudge, Donald Trump, as she would back up his policies, especially when she was pressed in her conversation about guns at schools.

And when you talk about advancing the wishes of a “ministry,” then DeVos certainly is a proud disciple of that. The Mother Jones magazine article (yep, it’s liberal) entitled “Betsy DeVos Wants to Use America’s Schools to Build ‘God’s Kingdom’” is rather eye-opening and it includes some rather zealous statements about DeVos’s devotion to another cause that may be rather cloudy according to the separation of church and state (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/01/betsy-devos-christian-schools-vouchers-charter-education-secretary).

Asked whether Christian schools should continue to rely on philanthropic dollars—rather than pushing for taxpayer money through vouchers—Betsy DeVos replied, “There are not enough philanthropic dollars in America to fund what is currently the need in education…[versus] what is currently being spent every year on education in this country…Our desire is to confront the culture in ways that will continue to advance God’s kingdom.”

From 1999 to 2014, the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation gave out $2.4 million to the Grand Rapids Christian High School Association, $652,000 to the Ada Christian School, and $458,000 to Holland Christian Schools. All told, their foundation contributed $8.6 million to private religious schools—a reflection of the DeVoses’ lifelong dedication to building “God’s kingdom” through education.

Makes the word “ministry” take an even more celestial meaning.

Imagine the new guidelines for finding effective teachers after DeVos’s Common Core issues are finally politically cemented and then implemented (if she is confirmed). Umbridge went after many of Hogwarts’s most established professors with the acumen of an educational novice, but with the authority derived from being granted undeserved powers by a man bent on profit, there’s no telling how DeVos will measure effectiveness or growth or proficiency once she looks those words up in her dictionary.

In the books, during a round of standardized testing, Fred and George Weasley literally “drop out,” probably hum some Pink Floyd quietly and make a rather stunning display of civil disobedience that ends with Umbridge being “swallowed” by a dragon-shaped firework. And dragons are appropriate for this because – well, just read this post – “Teachers, Winter Is Coming, So Get Your Dragons!” – https://caffeinatedrage.com/2017/01/07/teachers-winter-is-coming-so-get-your-dragons/.

decree3

So the meme that puts both Umbridge and DeVos together is quite appropriate and shows that the magical world and the real world might not be that far apart.

At least in some people’s minds.

However, the meme does say that “we needed centaurs to get rid of” Umbridge.

Well considering that DeVos and her family have given heavily to organizations that are blatantly anti-LGBT, centaurs may not be the best choice of helping us rid ourselves of the “deforms” of Betsy DeVos.

So I suggest,

decree4

And after they are done taking away DeVos, they can go to Raleigh and get rid of HB2.

But, just in case DeVos is confirmed it might be time to go ahead and put Defense Against the Dark Arts on the registration list.

In fact, it should be a prerequisite.

decree6

 

For Alan Rickman – “Always”

Bear This In Mind, Grizzlies Are Not Preying on Public Schools – Even Dwight Shrute Would Agree, but watch out for Beets and Battlestar Galactica

First there was The Office.

Jim Halpert: [imitating Dwight] “Fact: bears eat beets. Bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica.” (From “Product Recall episode 2007).

bears-beets

Then there was Sarah Palin.

“This mama grizzly … has more reason than ever to protect our young” – Sarah Palin, 2008.

bears-palin

There’s always been the references to Russia as a bear.

Don’t poke bear.” – Commonly referred to when talking about Russia.

bears-dont-poke

Then there’s that great presidential campaign commercial from Ronald Reagan in 1984. Entitled “Bear” it makes its point to a country in the midst of the Cold War.

“There’s a bear in the woods.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpwdcmjBgNA

And now, bears are forcing us to put guns in public schools. At least according to Betsy DeVos.

“I will refer back to Sen. Enzi and the school he is talking about in Wyoming. I think probably there, I would imagine there is probably a gun in a school to protect from potential grizzlies.”

Betsy DeVos said those now famous words during her confirmation hearing on January 17th, 2017 in response to questioning about guns on school campuses.

In an exhausting search to find the number of public school students killed by grizzlies or other bears, no number besides ZERO has shown up. On the other hand, the number of students killed with guns rises each year at alarming rates.

And honestly, who will stand up for bears and grizzlies in this case of absolute discrimination? In an attempt at a red herring on avoiding the question about guns on school properties, DeVos showed a distinct hatred of mammals that were probably here well before humans were, and in doing so directly offended many icons who are of the family Ursidae.

She certainly is saying that bears have no place in schools. And that just hurts people like Grizzly Adams in the old grizzly groin.

That means these American icons can no longer grace the hallways of any school.

Winnie the Pooh will now have to go by “Mr. Sanders.”

bears-pooh

Baloo the Bear will definitely need to stay away from the man villages.

bears-baloo

Yogi Bear? Yep, and Boo-Boo too. At least kids will keep their lunches.

bears-yogi

Fozzie Bear? You wacka-wacka betcha.

bears-fozzie

Ted? I know he’s foul-mouthed, but still.

bears-ted

Little Bear? Yep. Even him and his first grade self. Maurice Sendak is rolling in his grave where the wild things are.

bears-little-bear

Paddington Bear? Yep. Gentle Ben? Yep. Even the Coca-Cola Bears who want to wish you Happy Holidays?

bears-coca-cola

Even them.

And what about all of the schools that have “bears,” “grizzlies,” or even “bruins” as mascots? According to mascotdb.com, over 390 high schools, colleges, and professional teams have “bears” as a mascot. Over 100 have “bruins.” Over 104 have “grizzlies.” We’re talking about incredible schools like:

  • University of California at Berkley
  • UCLA
  • Baylor
  • University of Maine
  • Oakland University
  • Brown University
  • Cornell (uses a bear as mascot)
  • Mercer
  • University of Montana.

Even Bowdoin College has the bear as a mascot and it educated Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Franklin Pierce, and Nathaniel Hawthorne at one time!

Think of the Chicago Bears, the Chicago Cubs, the Boston Bruins, and the Memphis Grizzlies.

And as if the line had not already been crossed and defecated upon (because bears do that kind of stuff in the woods),

bears-poop

there’s the Bad News Bears.

bears-bad-news

They’re literally just cubs! Look at them. And the law says that kids must go to school, but Betsy DeVos says it’s alright to have guns in schools to protect against these “grizzlies-to-be.”

Now who is breaking the law?

The weird thing here is that DeVos says she will uphold Trump’s policies when it comes to his stance on gun-free zones in schools. She’s worried about grizzlies and bears attacking our kids.

Ironic then that Trump already has poked a bear.

bear-russia

And “Heavens to Betsy” we’ll need more than what DeVos offers.

When Your Senator Sells His Spine For Contributions – Burr’s Praise For DeVos

Dear Senator Burr,

Late on January 18, 2017, after the disastrous hearing of Betsy DeVos in front of the HELP committee in which she clearly showed she was not just unqualified to be Secretary of Education, but rather uniquely oblivious to policies that help guide our public schools, you issued the following statement:

I’m glad that we had a lively discussion with Betsy DeVos about her vision for the Department of Education,” said Senator Burr. “Her commitment to improving education and expanding opportunity for our students is unmatched. Betsy DeVos is the person we need for this job and I am proud to support her nomination.” 




Either all of the campaign money that you received from Mrs. DeVos clouded your senses or dulled your ability to perceive reality, but that was not a “lively discussion” that occurred – it was a conversation with a recording and a cardboard smile.

That was not “vision” Mrs. DeVos was displaying. That was her lack of vision.

That “commitment to improving education” already has left billowing clouds of smoke in Michigan because her concept of “expanding opportunity” is through capitalistic ventures such as vouchers, charter schools and other for-profit endeavors.

And of course her “commitment” to these endeavors is unmatched, especially when you look at the bottom line of a finance sheet, part of which has your name attached to it through political contributions.

You say that you are “proud to support” her nomination because she is the person “we need for this job.”

Then senator, please align that statement with the other statements that you have made concerning public education and tell your constituents here in North Carolina how Betsy DeVos will help fulfill your “vision” as outlined on your personal website (that may have been developed with funds received from Betsy DeVos).

Our children are the future of North Carolina, and they represent the best of us. I am proud to be an avid defender of North Carolina students in the Senate.”

As a part of my commitment to defending North Carolina students, I was proud to offer an amendment to fix a long-standing inequality in education funding that has shortchanged North Carolina’s teachers, schools and low-income students for over 15 years.”



We have made great strides this Congress to deliver control of K-12 education back to local communities, while making sure limited federal education funding is going to the communities that need it the most. But making sure that our children are getting the best education possible is going to be an ongoing fight for North Carolina families in Washington. I’m pledging to continue fighting for North Carolina’s schools, teachers and students, because a brighter future for North Carolina students means a brighter future for North Carolina.”



Unless all of those students are in private, parochial, charter, or online virtual schools, then those statements concerning defending schools and students meant less to you than the political clout represented by the donations of Betsy DeVos.

You are a son of an elementary school teacher and a graduate of R.J. Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem, one of the most historic traditional public schools in North Carolina.

And you just happily endorsed a woman who clearly has no IDEA.

North Carolinians deserve a better explanation from you and apparently we deserve much better representation for all of our students because your words clearly do not guide your actions.