Rep. Moore, Now You Want to Put a School Bond on the Ballot?

Yesterday, during the endless “special session” that the NC General Assembly has been conducting, Rep. Tim Moore brought up his intentions to put a state-wide school bond on the ballot to help with school infrastructure. From Billy Ball of NC Policy Watch yesterday:

State House Speaker Tim Moore announced that he would file a bill to put a $1.9 billion public school bond on the ballot, addressing at least a portion of the state’s capital needs.

According to Moore’s release, $1.3 billion would go to K-12 construction needs, $300 million to the UNC system, and $300 million to North Carolina’s community colleges.

Moore’s press release also said,

“Education is what matters most to families and businesses — to the private and public sectors alike — and North Carolina is poised to build on historic commitments to our schools with another long-term investment in capital construction for our rapidly growing student population,” Moore said in the release.

“Our state’s explosive growth over the past decade brings opportunities and challenges for our school systems. The state General Assembly must continue to meet those needs with investments in our future.”

So one question quickly comes to mind – Why the hell did Moore not support putting the bond on the recent ballot when it was called for by many in the state these past few years?

school-bond

Back in July during the actual long session of the NCGA, Moore claimed that putting a school bond on the ballot would have been too much stress on the budget. From an AP report in the News & Observer on July 11, 2018:

But Moore said some colleagues were concerned about the state accruing the debt. Lawmakers had already agreed this year to a Cooper administration proposal to authorize the issuance up to $3 billion in new debt over 10 years to keep up the current high pace of road-building construction. No referendum was required, and the debt would be repaid with highway-dedicated revenues. Cooper said Tuesday the state can issue both amounts of debt and remain fiscally disciplined.

Ironic that he did not want to “accrue debt” when a ballot measure would put the decision in the hands of the people. Ironic that he did not want to “accrue debt” while helping slash corporate tax rates again that cut revenue into the state budget.

A now after a couple of devastating hurricanes and an election that saw his party lose a supermajority, Tim Moore wants to put the bond on the ballot?

Yes, Moore did mention in July that he thought the bond would be a better idea for next year’s budget, but listening to what he said in the press release yesterday seems to make that mention of intent from July seem political at best.

Moore said in the press release (repeating the above quote),

“Our state’s explosive growth over the past decade brings opportunities and challenges for our school systems. The state General Assembly must continue to meet those needs with investments in our future.”

This has been needed for a decade? And they have been pushing a class-size mandate that would actually force most systems to somehow come up with extra “space” to accommodate the needed expansion?

Ball’s report deftly mentioned that Moore and other lawmakers have been forewarned about the need for more money to help infrastructure.

State officials told legislators nearly three years ago that the school construction tab was expected to balloon to $13 billion by 2026, and that’s before a controversial elementary class size cap may have exacerbated the problem for local districts.

What Moore did was simply politics. And he is using our students as pawns to curry a little favor going into this next year without the luxury of a veto-proof majority.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Valuable Lesson That Robin Thicke Taught Students About Plagiarism

I have made the assertion that there are people that I have plagiarized in my life. There’s my uncle Mike, who was a teacher like I am now. There was Ed whose life will always be a living example of what I try and do. Both men have/had something I wanted and wore life the way I want to wear it. So, I copied them. And they let me.

But that is not the type of plagiarism that I am talking of in this post.

To “plagiarize” someone’s actions and traits is simply emulating those people – doing what they do in life situations, acting as they would act, prioritizing as they would, and proactively acting on situations as they would.

There are artists and athletes who idolize and emulate practices that their heroes have done in the past. It’s a form of respect and admiration.

But I want to talk about plagiarism in its denotative sense.

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary gives the simple definition of plagiarism as:

“: the act of using another person’s words or ideas without giving credit to that person : the act of plagiarizing something.”

“Words” or “Ideas.” Passing them off as your own.

Vanilla Ice will forever be associated with a “hit song” that literally lifted a bass line from a collaborative effort from Queen and David Bowie, both legends in musical arts. “Ice, Ice, Baby” still plays every so often on the radio and when I hear it, I think of what an interesting tool it is to teach students about plagiarism. That, and it’s stupid to infringe on the work of icons who literally span generations with their art.

What Vanilla Ice did and what Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were found guilty of recently is called copyright infringement. It is nothing more than pure plagiarism – taking someone else’s work and passing it off as your own.

thicke

In fact, it cost Thicke and Williams millions. As reported on CNN.com today,

A five-year legal battle over the copyright of the hit song “Blurred Lines” has ended with Marvin Gaye’s family being awarded a final judgment of nearly $5 million against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams.

The pair had been accused of copyright infringement for their 2013 single because of the similarities to Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up.”

 

And it not only cost them financially; it also puts a stain on their reputations.

Plagiarism might one of the worst offenses a professional can commit in many fields, especially if it deals with writing, research, or education.

And plagiarism is one of the worst offenses a student can commit, especially if that student is pursuing admission to an institution of higher education.

People are fired over it. College students are expelled by it.

And it can cause a letter of admission to a first choice college to be rescinded.

 

 

With a Statewide Municipal Charter School Bill, The North Carolina General Assembly Is Setting Our State Back Decades

When Rep. Bill Brawley of Mecklenberg County first championed HB 514, he promoted a bill that allows for cities to use property tax money to fund local schools. It also allows for some select cities and towns to establish their own charter schools with enrollment preference for their citizens using taxpayer money. And because it was a local bill, it did not require the governor’s approval; therefore, Gov. Cooper could not issue a veto.

To many public school advocates, this “Municipal Charter School” bill is beyond egregious and potentially sets North Carolina back decades as far as treating all people equally. It exacerbates an already fractious situation that has endured gerrymandering (which is making its way to the Supreme Court), a Voter ID law, cowering to big industry instead of protecting the environment, and giving massive tax cuts to corporations that hurt public services.

There are a plethora of ill-fated consequences that can manifest themselves quickly because of this bill. The first three would be felt all over the state. The fourth would only be seen in Charlotte-Mecklenberg Schools as it was originally a local bill.

  1. It could raise everyone’s property taxes in the state. Whatever the state now mandates for public schools and does not choose to specifically fund can now be passed on to local school systems.
  2. It potentially weakens every public school system in the state whether or not it currently has a charter school. Now charter schools can ask the local district for funds to finance anything from custodians to benefits for charter school teachers.
  3. It will probably cause a rise in charter school applications and eventually lead to more charter schools in the state. And the more charter schools there are, the more it hurts traditional public schools which still service the overwhelming majority of students in the state.
  4. But most importantly, it would be allowing for the systemic re-segregation of student populations in the Charlotte-Mecklenberg School System under the auspicious call for “school choice.”

But now that fourth consequence can now be felt in every county in the state.

Today, December 13, 2018, during a special session of the North Carolina General Assembly to supposedly iron-out details for the new Voter ID amendment, a Technical Corrections Bill called SB 469 removes the provision for the original HB 514 that stipulated its “local bill” status. The ramifications of that are enormous.

The Charlotte-Mecklenberg School system, who vigorously fought against the original bill, posted the following Legislative Alert:

CMS

What this means is that HB 514 may no longer be a local bill that only affects one of 100 counties in North Carolina. It allows for HB 514 to be a statewide mandate. The use of property taxes for local municipal charter schools would now be available to all counties. The implications are now even more far-reaching when looking at how student populations could now be even more segregated all over the state.

The four municipalities targeted in the original are fairly affluent populations that are majority white. They are Mint Hill, Matthews, Cornelius, and Huntersville. These municipalities could already create their own charter schools for their own citizens using county property tax revenues.

But every municipality in the state will have this power if SB 469 passes. The North Carolina General Assembly still has a super-majority until January as the recent elections saw dramatic gains for democrats that take away veto-proof powers in the NCGA.

Ironically, one of the GOP incumbents who lost his re-election bid was Bill Brawley, the man who championed the original HB 514, a bill that now has the potential to re-segregate many student populations around the state while allowing for unregulated charter schools to take more resources away from traditional public schools.

 

 

 

Every North Carolina Lawmaker Should Be a Proctor for a State Exam and Administer the ACT

Of the many incredibly clever, spot-on, and ingenious signs from the May 16th march and rally in Raleigh, this one has remained my favorite.

proctor

“Can Anyone Here Proctor?” This gentleman was everywhere. That’s what made this sign so powerful – there is always a test to be administered and there is always a need for  proctor. If you want to get an idea of the absolute unenviable task of setting a testing schedule for a large school can be, then create one for all exams that allows for space and time and room for all accommodations.

And then find administrators and proctors for all of them.

Exams for our school system and most others will happen in January after the Winter Break. After days missed because of weather related reasons: hurricanes, snowfall, etc.

They last about a week or so. The spring exams seem to be a longer stretch of testing days.

8 days for state exams last year in my school system.

Administrators and proctors needed for all of them.

So before the General Assembly passes yet more mandates and bills that show a complete ignorance of the tasks and duties of teachers and staffs in public schools, each lawmaker should serve as a proctor for a state exam just to get an idea of the inner workings of a school filled with duties and tasks that must be performed with limited resources and space. For that matter, they should all have a chance to administer the ACT as well. It won’t take too long.

Or will it.

There is a booklet for proctoring a state exam– http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/accountability/policyoperations/prctrgd1617.pdf.

proctor2

There is also mandatory training.

Don’t be late.

Because teachers always have more than one test to proctor or administer in a given exam week.

Too Many Standardized Tests For Non-Standardized Students

Exam

Below is a list of the standardized tests administered by the state of North Carolina in our public schools.

  1. North Carolina End of Grade Exam Math – Grade 3
  2. North Carolina End of Grade Exam English / Language Arts- Grade 3
  3. North Carolina End of Grade Exam Science – Grade 3
  4. North Carolina End of Grade Exam Math – Grade 4
  5. North Carolina End of Grade Exam English / Language Arts- Grade 4
  6. North Carolina Final Exam Social Studies – Grade 4
  7. North Carolina Final Exam Science – Grade 4
  8. North Carolina Writing Assignment – Grade 4
  9. North Carolina End of Grade Exam Math – Grade 5
  10. North Carolina End of Grade Exam English / Language Arts- Grade 5
  11. North Carolina Final Exam Social Studies – Grade 5
  12. North Carolina End of Grade Exam Math – Grade 6
  13. North Carolina End of Grade Exam English / Language Arts- Grade 6
  14. North Carolina Final Exam Social Studies – Grade 6
  15. North Carolina Final Exam Science – Grade 6
  16. North Carolina End of Grade Exam Math – Grade 7
  17. North Carolina End of Grade Exam English / Language Arts- Grade 7
  18. North Carolina Final Exam Social Studies – Grade 7
  19. North Carolina Final Exam Science – Grade 7
  20. North Carolina Writing Assignment – Grade 7
  21. North Carolina End of Grade Exam Math – Grade 8
  22. North Carolina End of Grade Exam English / Language Arts- Grade 8
  23. North Carolina End of Grade Exam Science – Grade 8
  24. North Carolina Final Exam Social Studies – Grade 8
  25. End of Course Test – Biology
  26. End of Course Test – English II
  27. North Carolina Writing Assignment – Grade 10
  28. End of Course Test – NC Math I
  29. End of Course Test – NC Math III
  30. NC Final – English I
  31. NC Final – English III
  32. NC Final – English IV
  33. NC Final – American History I
  34. NC Final – American History II
  35. NC Final – Civics
  36. NC Final – World History
  37. NC Final – NC Math II
  38. NC Final – Pre-Calculus
  39. NC Final – Discrete Math
  40. NC Final – Advanced Functions & Models
  41. NC Final – Earth & Environmental Science
  42. NC Final – Physics
  43. NC Final – Physical Science
  44. NC Final – Chemistry
  45. NC Test of Computer Skills

 

Depending on which math and science track a student has in high school, it is conceivable that a student who matriculates in NC’s public schools will take around 40 of these state tests.

That list does not include any local benchmark assessments, the PSAT, the ACT, the Pre-ACT, or any of the AP exams that may come with Advanced Placement classes.

Throw in some PISA or NAEP participants. Maybe the ASVAB and the Workkeys.

That’s a lot of tests. And a lot of time to

There’s probably more.

When I graduated high school last century, I never had to take even one-tenth of these kinds of assessments.

But we wrote a lot of essays in my school.

Not short answers.

Essays.

 

Great Teachers & Educational Reform: A Case of Contradiction Versus Paradox

Contradiction versus paradox. They are not that different, but in actuality they are.

Merriam Webster defines a “contradiction” as,

  • : the act of saying something that is opposite or very different in meaning to something else
  • : a difference or disagreement between two things which means that both cannot be true

Here are some examples:

  • “Do what I say, not as I do.”
  • “Sure the food is fresh. We microwave it right here.”
  • “After I work out at the YMCA, I go to Krispy Kreme and reward myself with a dozen donuts.”
  • Corporate reform initiatives work well in public education.

Merriam Webster defines a “paradox” as,

  • : something (such as a situation) that is made up of two opposite things and that seems impossible but is actually true or possible
  • : someone who does two things that seem to be opposite to each other or who has qualities that are opposite
  • : a statement that seems to say two opposite things but that may be true

Here are some examples:

  • “You can’t keep it unless you give it away.”
  • “You must surrender to win.”
  • “You learn to fail before you learn to succeed.”
  • Teachers still raising student achievement in the face of debilitating reform measures.

I make mention of public education because there may be no other profession/field/public service that shows the contradiction versus paradox relationship so well.

Since the inception of the No Child Left Behind initiative, American public education has been a hotbed for reform after reform to link student achievement and teacher/school effectiveness to standardized tests. That movement was even further pushed with Race to the Top. And some states like North Carolina have taken so many steps to reform education in such a small time that the shoes of change have no souls/soles left while walking a path with no map.

Contradiction #1 – You can best measure non-standardized students with standardized tests. Student achievement and student growth are not the same thing. One is a measurable with controlled variables and treats students as a number or a statistic. Student growth is taking the individual student and assessing authentically where he/she began and how far he/she grew to a goal.

If one looks at how schools are graded in North Carolina, then he will see that “test scores” are taken into account much more in assigning school letter grades than student growth. If you look at the grades for schools in NC this past year, you will not only see a lot of high-poverty schools showing up in the “D” an “F” range, but if you look really closely, you will see that these schools do a lot to help students grow.

Contradiction #2 – There is a one-size fits all reform or pedagogical approach for all schools. Not so. Different student populations have different obstacles that may affect student growth like poverty, economic development of the area, access to educational opportunities outside of school, etc. Factors that affect the lives of students outside of class can have everything to do with how they perform in class.

Contradiction #3 – Giving schools a certain amount of money is the same thing as fully funding them. The state of North Carolina makes many claims that it is spending more money overall on public schools than ever before. However, the state of North Carolina is spending less money per pupil than before the Great Recession. The contradiction here is that just because there is “more” money does not mean that schools are fully funded. Population growth alone can expose that contradiction.

Contradiction #4 – Allowing for-profit entities to run charter schools, Innovative School Districts, and virtual high schools means you are progressive. It really means you are re-forming education so that someone can make a profit from tax payer money.

Contradiction #5 – Vouchers work well for students. Ask Milwaukee. Ask any other major system that implemented them if vouchers really worked. The only true statement that can be said about the use of vouchers is that it takes money from the very public schools that need the money in the first place to hire the people and get the resources to educate each student effectively.

Contradiction #6 – Class sizes do not matter to student performance. North Carolina literally removed class size caps. Any public school teacher could vouch that class size means so much when it comes to student/teacher interaction.

Contradiction #7 – Teachers with continuing contracts and wrongfully labeled “tenure” are the ones who are burdening the system. Actually, teachers with due process rights (which is erroneously referred to as “tenure” – not the type associated with professors in college) cannot just be dismissed with the swish of a wand. Their records prove their effectiveness or they would not have gotten continuing licenses. Teachers with due-process rights actually work to advocate for schools and students without fear of sudden reprisal.

And there are many more contradictions that could be listed.

Now here’s the lone paradox, and to paraphrase a quote from Andreas Schliecher* – Despite the many, politically-motivated reform efforts by Raleigh and the characterizations by many that public school teachers have an easy job with short hours and months off in the summer, the fact is that our dedicated and successful teachers work long hours all year long to educate students and educate themselves without many needed resources and support on the legislative level.

I’ll take that paradox over all of the contradictions any day.

The original quote is, “Despite the characterization of some that teaching is an easy job, with short hours and summers off, the fact is that successful, dedicated teachers in the U.S. work long hours for little pay and, in many cases, insufficient support from their leadership.”

andreas-schleicher-despite-the-characterization-of-some-that-teaching-quote-on-storemypic-a2c5a

Despite the General Assembly, North Carolina Teachers Still Set A “Gold Standard” – First in Nation in NBCT’s

If anyone ever needed to see the dedication that North Carolina’s public school teachers have to their students and their craft, then consider how these two statistics:

  1. North Carolina’s Number of Nationally Certified Teachers
  2. North Carolina’s Rank for Best & Worst States for Teachers

For the first statistic, North Carolina ranks #1 in the nation.

From the News & Observer’s T. Keung Hui today:

North Carolina and the Wake County school system continue to lead the U.S. in what’s considered to be the “gold standard” for teacher excellence with the most number of educators certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

The state now has 21,985 of the 122,034 nationally certified teachers in the U.S., according to new results released Monday. Statewide, 22.1 percent of teachers have gone through the rigorous process to receive their certification.

Wake County had the most certified teachers of any district in the nation with 2,745. Wake has led the nation for 13 consecutive years.

For the second statistic, North Carolina ranks as the seventh WORST state for teachers.

Again from T. Keung Hui from back in September of 2017:

North Carolina was 45th on WalletHub’s ranking of 2017 Best and Worst States for Teachers, finishing as the seventh-worst state on a list that included all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The personal finance website developed its rankings based on 21 metrics, ranging from teachers’ income growth potential to pupil-teacher ratio to teacher safety (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article175276116.html).

So in a state that does not consider teachers as the “gold standard” of public education, North Carolina teachers still have nearly one-fifth of the nation’s NBCT’s. Even Mark Johnson, a man who “trained” to be a teacher and “taught” in public schools for less time than it takes to just become qualified to actually start the process of national certification talked glowingly about national certification.

NBCTs

In Hui’s report from January 8, 2018 on last year’s numbers Johnson said,

“Our state’s students are the winners when their teachers invest the time and effort to meet the demanding standards of national certification. The certification process helps teachers strengthen their practice to be highly effective educators in their classrooms and able instructional leaders in their schools.”

Yes, it is not lost on this National Board Certified Teacher that there is a twelve percent pay raise for achieving national certification in North Carolina. Many may say that teachers obtain national certification to get more money.

But most NBCT’s will tell you that getting national certification was a way to get better at what they do even in a state that does not treat them very well.

Consider the average pay for teachers in North Carolina is much lower than the national average even with “historic raises” that the GOP claims to have made. The “pay bump” that comes with national certification for all of those NBCT’s in NC is included in that statistic. Imagine how much more pathetic that average teacher salary in North Carolina would be if there was not a pay increase for NBCT’s.

This also furthers the argument that graduate degree pay bumps should be reinstated in North Carolina by the same GOP stalwarts who took them away in the first place.  Not many of those who agree with eliminating graduate degree pay increases argue against that veracity of National Board Certification. North Carolina still leads the nation in NBCT’s (National Board Certified Teachers). National certification is defined by a portfolio process which many schools of education emulate in their graduate programs.

Additionally, teachers now must finance their own certification process. When I initially began my certification process a decade ago, the state paid my fees. The state saw it as an investment in teachers to get better at what they do. That might be the reason that so many teachers in NC underwent the process. That no longer happens. Teachers must finance their own chance to get better at their avocation. My renewal fees for this cycle alone were higher than a mortgage payment.

Imagine what first time certification seekers had to pay on their own. It’s much higher. Much.

And yet North Carolina still leads the nation in the number NBCT’s even after all that has been enacted by Mark Johnson’s cronies in the last seven years like:

  1. Removal of due-process rights for new teachers
  2. Graduate Degree Pay Bumps Removed
  3. Standard 6
  4. Push for Merit
  5. Health Insurance and Benefits cuts
  6. Attacks on Teacher Advocacy Groups (NCAE)
  7. Revolving Door of Standardized Tests
  8. Less Money Spent per Pupil than Before Great Recession When Adjusted for Inflation
  9. Removal of Caps on Class Sizes
  10. Sacrificing of Specialties in Elementary Schools
  11. Jeb Bush School Grading System
  12. Cutting Teacher Assistants
  13. Opportunity Grants
  14. Unregulated Charter School Growth
  15. Virtual School Failures
  16. Innovative School Districts
  17. Elimination of Teaching Fellows Program

First in the nation in the number of National Certified teachers in a state that has a “teacher shortage” and the “need” for SB599.

Who championed SB599? Sen. Chad Barefoot. Part of his district is a slice of Wake County which has more NBCT’s than any other county in the nation.

What these diabolically opposing statistics really show (1st in NBCT’s and 45th in Best States for Teachers) is that in a state where the government has gone out of its way to weaken public schools, teachers remain steadfast in raising students’ outcomes.

 

Dear North Carolina, Give Local School Systems Calendar Flexibility

The North Carolina General Assembly met for a special session in October to address what could immediately be done for the most affected counties in NC from the damage of Hurricane Florence. Actually, it was about half of the state.

Some of the most damaged counties asked that their school systems be allowed to have flexibility with their calendars so that students could make up the missed class time without having to cut into weekends and holidays.

But the solution offered by the NCGA was not really that helpful:

calendarflexibility

Precisely Hui (the N&O’s education reporter) stated,

“Ten hard-hit southeastern NC school districts wanted calendar flexibility to go past June 9 to help make up time lost due to Hurrican Florence. Instead teh North Carolina General Assembly let them waive up to 20 days. Districts didn’t want to use Saturdays & holidays so how many days will they be forced to waive?

The General Assembly pretty much said that the school systems had to end the school year on the same timetable as unaffected school systems.

But they can waive up to twenty days. That’s over ten percent of the average school year required by the federal government.

What those counties were asking for was TIME! Time for their students and families to still get an education and do well on the very tests that the state says they have to take.

Now with the loss of days by other school systems due to the recent winter weather and subsequent snow and ice will be eating away at more days. And if the NCGA is to keep pace with its previous, there will be no flexibility given because of the almighty exam schedules and rigid norms that obey special interests and not the schools wishes.

In October, those school systems wanted flexibility to extend the school year so that they could physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually begin to heal from the disaster that was Hurricane Florence. Now many other school systems will need to figure out how to make up days in due to more weather inside of a constricted school calendar.

Weekends, holidays, nights, and early mornings be used used to rebuild and recover. If the state was serious about helping weather-affected schools, then it would allow for local school systems to have calendar flexibility to address the academic needs of their students in the time frame that would be best decided by the local school systems.

Forcing the schools to still end at the same calendar date (with the missed time) as other systems that may never have missed school days is forcing those students to take state tests without the same preparation time and affect school performance grades. That can be really severe to school systems who are already dealing with the after effects of weather-related closures.

Those standardized tests being taken by a certain date in no way is even remotely as important as serving the needs of those affected schools and their students.

What if the North Carolina General Assembly gave local school systems the same flexibility to help reschedule missed school days as it grants itself to convene in baseless special sessions that do not really serve the state?

Do the right thing NCGA (and Mark Johnson) and give local school systems calendar flexibility.

Bedford Falls High School – A Foundation For “It’s A Wonderful Life” And How It Shows That Public Schools Are Pillars of the Community

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.

wonderful

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 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 talk 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 ties 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.

wonderful-alfafa

See? Told you.

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

wonderful-charleston

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

wonderful-pool

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!

wonderful-football-2

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.

wonderful-harry

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.

wonderful-bar

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

wonderful-job

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 that schools sometime 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.

wonderful-partridge

Good movie.

Happy Holidays.

The Cotton-Headed Ninny-Mugginses of West Jones Street

I’M on a blog and I’m blogging. I’M ON A BLOG, AND I’M BLOGGING!

Leave it to Buddy the Elf to best explain this current special session of the North Carolina General Assembly when the angry elves of the GOP still continue to plot a power grab in the last minute to quash the Christmas cheer of the voters’ wishes.

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  • “The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.”

Translated: “The best way to spread GOP cheer is passing bills and details on a Voter ID amendment in a special session for no one to hear. But doing it during the Christmas season really does add to the festive nature of the special session.”

That whole “loud for all to hear” part? Never happens. That’s called transparency. Not part of their style.

  • “You sit on a throne of lies!”

Actually, there is no translation needed here. They do sit on a throne of lies.

  • “We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.”

Translated: “We NCGA GOP members try to stick to the four main food groups: power grabs, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and privatization.”

  • “I am a cotton-headed ninny-muggins!”

Actually, “they” are all much more than that.

  • “Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?”

The color is green in most cases – green with envy that they didn’t maintain their supermajority in the General Assembly. Or get that judicial appointment amendment passed.

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The color is yellow because of the nature of how they went about this recent power grab.

  • “I planned out our whole day: First, we’ll make snow angels for two hours, and then we’ll go ice skating, and then we’ll eat a whole roll of Toll-House cookie dough as fast as we can, and then to finish, we’ll snuggle.”

Translated: “We planned out our whole special session. First we’ll make it look like we are helping people, and then we’ll seize a whole roll of power as fast as we can, and then to finish, we’ll blame it on the governor.”

  • “I just like to smile; smiling’s my favorite.”

Translated: “I just like to smile; smiling’s helping to cover my….”

  • “Son of a nutcracker!”

“Nutcracker” really doesn’t capture the mood does it, but it is about as strong as word as Buddy can muster.

  • “You have such a pretty face. You should be on a Christmas card.”

No they don’t.

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  • “You did it! Congratulations! World’s best cup of coffee! Great job, everybody! It’s great to be here.”

Translated: “You did it! Congratulations! Country’s worst job of showing democracy in action.” Along with Wisconsin and Michigan.

  • “Does somebody need a hug?”

“Hug” is too gentle a word here.

  • “Have you seen these toilets? They’re ginormous!”

Translated: “We still never really repealed the bathroom bill.”

  • “You stink. You smell like beef and cheese! You don’t smell like Santa.”

Well said Buddy, well said.

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