The Best Depiction of Love in Movies

Today is Valentine’s Day – flowers, candy, cards, special meals, and love notes.

Sometimes, however, I am reminded that the real love that I share for another human being doesn’t really need a holiday.

This past year two of my best friends lost their significant others – one to cancer, the other to organ failure. And when I talk to both of them, they still speak so lovingly of their missed ones.

The love they shared was seen in the everyday – the pauses, the looks, the sweat in working things out, the willingness to be open, and the courage to let the other be human and make mistakes.

I have read enough books, seen enough movies, and heard enough songs to have a pretty good idea that true love doesn’t necessarily have to have the right description, the right camera angles, or the right notes to make others see what makes two people be in love.

It’s in the actions of the everyday. But if we’re going to refer to movies, we might as well look at what I consider one of the greatest examples of love.

And they are not even real people.

pixar-up-opening-sequence

 

I know. It’s sad in the end. But the love kept him going.

And I respect that.

The Dramatis Personae in the Privatization of Public Schools in North Carolina – or Who is Trying to “Reform” Education Through Deformation

Michelle Rhee’s visit to North Carolina for a “closed-door” meeting (February 7th)) with lawmakers in the current climate of public education in this country and in the state should not sit well with public school advocates.

In fact, this meeting that was brokered by an educational lobbying body of business leaders called BEST NC (coupled with the NC GOP’s invitation to Betsy DeVos) should serve as an ominous omen of what will be attempted in North Carolina.

This meeting with Rhee was passed off as a session with leaders where candid questions could be asked and ideas exchanged on how to improve public education seemed to be void of the very people who know education the best – educators.

And while the media did have a chance to meet and greet with Ms. Rhee and George Parker in a manicured and measured way, what happened behind closed doors with people who make decisions on how to spend taxpayer money and fund public schools along with controversial educational reformers remains a mystery.

So much for transparency and including all stakeholders. In fact, it seemed more like a special session of the NC General Assembly who used such “secret sessions” to spawn actions such as HB2, SB4, and HB17.

Despite what they claim, the intentions of BEST NC to improve public education seems to have a different meaning to them than it does to those who are educators in our public schools.

That’s because there exist too many relationships between business leaders, lobbying groups, wealthy benefactors, politicians, and educational reformers to be coincidental. In fact, many in the “reform” movement that have started to dismantle the public school system are strategically linked to each other, including BEST NC.

Look at the graphic below:

privatizers

That is a diagram of the relationships between entities that many public school advocates deem as detrimental to our public school system. The box at the bottom represents the state of North Carolina. All of the other listed players are national.

Consider the following groups:

  • Teach For America
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Walton Family Foundation
  • Eli Broad Foundation
  • KIPP Charter Schools
  • Democrats For Educational Reform
  • Educational Reform Now
  • StudentsFirst
  • America Succeeds
  • 50CAN
  • American Legislative Exchange Council
  • Civitas Institute
  • SAS Software
  • CarolinaCan
  • North Carolina General Assembly
  • BEST NC

They are all linked. And the only teachers who seem to have any sustained dialogue with any of these is the Hope Street Group – and that dialogue seems mostly to have been with BEST NC.

Somehow, someway all of the bulleted entities above were in that closed door meeting which started literally four hours after Betsy DeVos was confirmed as secretary of education thanks to the first ever tie-breaking vote by a vice-president for a cabinet position.

If you are willing, simply follow the explanation below because what seems to be a simple meeting may just be another step in the GOP-led NC General Assembly to dismantle public education and finance the privatization of schooling.

In 2014 a teacher/researcher named Mercedes Schneider published an informative book called A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education. What Schneider did was literally research and report on all of the bodies of influence that were applying forces on the landscape of public education for the benefit of political and capitalistic gain.

The fact that she is a teacher, product of public schools from southern Louisiana, a trained researcher, a survivor of Katrina, and a residential expert of the charter takeover in New Orleans, she has a unique perspective and an educated point of view.

Chapter 17 of the book is dedicated to the Democrats For Educational Reform and the Educational Reform Now groups (DFER and ERN).

DFER supports vouchers, union busting and other reform measures that are common in other reform circles, but they are (to summarize Schneider) not “non-profit.” What makes them powerful is that they have the word “Democrat” in their name and it allows them to literally “train” democrats into accepting and advancing a protocol that actually is more conservative in nature – initiatives that align with school choice and charter movements. Schneider talks about in pages 276-279 how the DFER even promoted “mayoral control and charter favoritism.”

It may seem a little bit like conspiracy theory, but it does make sense. Why? Because DFER is non-profit and has the word “Democrat” in it and therefore does not get the big time donations from conservative donators.

Or do they?

DFER is run mostly by hedge-fund managers. One of them is Whitney Tilson, who happens to be a Teach For America alumnus and a vice-chair of New York’s KIPP charters. He also sits on the board of DFER. That alone links DFER, KIPP, and TFA (p.278).

At least in 2013, DFER had an Executive Director named Joe Williams. He just happened to “also head another reform group, this one actually is classed as a ‘nonprofit,’ and it doesn’t have the D-word in its title.”  Education Reform Now (ERN) is a “democratic” body understood to be a “sister entity” to DFER (p.279).

By 2010, ERN counted the Broad Foundation and the Walton Foundation as donors. “ERN enables hedge-fund managers to quietly donate to Democrats advancing the privatization agenda…. Looks like the big Republican money is available to DFER, after all – through its ERN back door” (p.279).

More from Schneider:

  • Remember that Whitney Tilson is also a founding member of Teach For America along with Wendy Kopp. Kopp was the mentor of Michelle Rhee. Their ventures literally share the same circulatory system.
  • Tilson sits on the KIPP board and sits on the DFER board.
  • Kopp sits on the Broad Foundation Board which feeds money to ERN who in turn feeds DFER. Kopp is also married to Richard Barth, the CEO of KIPP Foundation.
  • DFER through ERN conducts business with Rhee’s StudentsFirst.
  • Tilson, Kopp, and Rhee are TFA alums.

How does this link into BEST NC? Well, BEST NC is affiliated with an outfit named America Succeeds that feeds and supports various “reform” groups within certain states that bring together powerful business leaders to push “educational reform.” Look at the following article: – http://www.prwatch.org/news/2016/03/13065/how-dfer-leaders-channel-out-state-dark-money-colorado-and-beyond. The title alone alludes to the ability for DFER to channel “dark” money to out of state entities that promote anti-union, pro-charter, voucher supporting measures. It shows something interesting.

  • America Succeeds’s address in Colorado is 1390 Lawrence Street in Denver.
  • DFER’s Colorado office is located on 1390 Lawrence Street in Denver.
  • KIPP’s Denver charter schools are headquartered in Denver. At 1390 Lawrence Street.

Seems that TFA, StudentsFirst, DFER, ERN, KIPP are about as incestuously linked as a Greek god family tree and it is feeding support to groups like BEST NC who just happens to be the Carolina affiliate of America Succeeds.

Think about it. North Carolina is an ideal target. Why? Because of the following conditions:

  • Right-to-work state.
  • Elimination of due-process rights.
  • Removal of caps for number of charter schools which are not regulated.
  • GOP controlled state assembly.
  • Opportunity Grants increasing.
  • Push for merit pay.
  • The new state superintendent is a TFA alumnus – Mark Johnson.

Brenda Berg who is the CEO of BEST NC has increasingly brokered working relationships with many entities that have targeted public schools – John Locke Foundation being one.

BEST NC’s VP is Julie Kowal, who at one time was the Executive Director of CarolinaCan, which is the NC chapter of an outfit called 50CAN, a national “advocacy group” that just last year merged with another entity: StudentsFirst: https://studentsfirst.org/pages/50can-and-studentsfirst-merge-strengthen-support-local-education-leaders-across-country.

Now, add to that the fact that BEST NC has had some workshops/meetings with people from the The Hope Street Group which is a group of teacher leaders who receive a stipend in exchange for gathering and communicating educational concerns with public school teachers.

Also consider:

  • Hope Street Group receives funding from the Gates Foundation.
  • Hope Street Group and other teachers were not in the meeting that Michelle Rhee attended with lawmakers that was set up by BEST NC. That means that the dialogue between what happens at the meeting and other teachers will be brokered by BEST NC because if HOPE Street can’t go, then other teachers can’t go.

It could also mean that there might be an altered script that is read to these teachers.

And one other thing – the vice-president of BEST NC (Julie Kowal), the Director of the North Carolina Teachers Network for Hope Street Group (Katharine Correll), and the NC state superintendent (Mark Johnson) all have law degrees. Johnson practiced corporate law. Kowal and Correll worked with non-profits.

Additionally, Mark Johnson was granted a massive amount of power over public education through House Bill 17 and Senate Bill 4 (HB17 &SB4), power over charter schools, and the control of the Achievement School District and has retained the services of ex-Pat McCrory aids who possibly were enabled by other McCrory cronies, such as Art Pope who is linked to the American Legislative Exchange Council, otherwise known as ALEC. Art Pope is also part of the aforementioned John Locke Foundation.

And Mark Johnson is an admirer of Betsy DeVos. When interviewed by the Charlotte Observer for a Jan. 27th feature Johnson expressed his support for the neophyte DeVos.

When asked about her, Johnson didn’t hesitate: “I support her.”

Mark Johnson has only three to four more years (as a teacher and local school board member) of experience with public schools than DeVos, and DeVos has no experience with public schools.

It’s not ironic that Betsy DeVos, Trump’s selection for secretary of education, is also associated with ALEC. From sourcewatch.com it is learned that DeVos has “bankrolled the 501 (c) (4) group the American Federation for Children, the 501 (c) (3) group Alliance for School Choice and by having these groups participate in and fund the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).”

All of these connections seem more than coincidence and this perfect storm of timing, state politics, gerrymandering, and people in power can’t just be by chance. Could it?

So where are the teachers in this dialogue? The schools of education in one of the best college systems in the nation and from some of the highest ranking private schools in the country?

Well many teachers have been represented by groups like NCAE (which is an association and not a union). Multiple times the NC General Assembly has tried to weaken any group like NCAE through stopping automatic dues payments and other things such as what the Civitas Institute tried to do here – luring teachers in NCAE to “buy” their membership back.

Remember this?

civitas

That website was established by the Civitas Institute, which was founded by Art Pope. It showed NCAE members how to withdraw their membership in NCAE and make $450 because that is what they would not be spending in dues.

Furthermore, on February  8th, the NC GOP which holds a supermajority in both chambers of the NC General Assembly issued a formal invitation to Betsy DeVos to come and “share ideas” according the 2/9/17 edition of the News & Observer (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article131486504.html).

Now look at the graphic again:

privatizers

The NC GOP (where many of the very same lawmakers and policymakers in this Feb. 7th meeting with Rhee caucus together) were very instrumental in the following actions:

  • Removal of due-process rights
  • Graduate Degree Pay Bumps Removed
  • Standard 6
  • “Average” Raises
  • Less Money Spent per Pupil
  • Remove Caps on Class Sizes
  • Jeb Bush School Grading System
  • Cutting Teacher Assistants
  • Opportunity Grants
  • Virtual Schools
  • Reduction of Teacher Candidates in Colleges
  • Elimination of Teaching Fellows Program

Also look at the timeline in which BEST NC came into existence – 2013

  • Art Pope became McCrory’s budget director – 2013
  • Graduate Degree Pay Bumps Eliminated – 2013
  • 50Can created CarolinaCan – 2013
  • School Performance Grades – 2013
  • Due-process rights taken from new teachers – started in 2013
  • Charter school cap in NC lifted – 2014, but proposed in 2013.
  • Opportunity Grants – 2014
  • Hope Street Group in NC – 2015

And one last thing – the Feb. 7th meeting with Rhee and Harris does have a connection with SAS, a software company whose president, James Goodnight, is married to one of the founders and current Board Member of BEST NC, Anne Goodnight. Mrs. Goodnight was also one of the founders of Cary Academy, a rather prestigious private school in the Triangle area.

In a data-driven, educational-reform era that seems to crunch and use data to position evidence that supports their claims, it would make sense to align with SAS, an “American multinational developer of analytics software based in Cary, North Carolina. SAS develops and markets a suite of analytics software, which helps access, manage, analyze and report on data to aid in decision-making” (Wikipedia).

“Decision-making” is an interesting term in this discussion, because isn’t this meeting with Rhee just about asking questions?

Because it seems to have raised more questions.

But what this all really means is that public school advocates should and must hold our officials accountable and do everything they can within legal limits to counter the trends that are privatizing our public schools.

Part of that started today with the Moral March in Raleigh. The tens of thousands of people who came to show solidarity in overturning suffocating government policies is just a sampling of the strength that resides within the citizens of our state – 90% percent of whom are affiliated with the public schools either as a student, graduate, parent, or a combination.

The NC GOP Wants to Meet Betsy DeVos To “Share” Agendas and Give Her A Pencil

News that the North Carolina GOP has invited newly and (barely) confirmed U.S. Education secretary Betsy DeVos to come and “share ideas” with lawmakers concerning school choice is rather humorous.

As reported in the News & Observer yesterday (2/9) in an article entitled “Republicans invite DeVos to North Carolina for advice on expanding school choice,” Lynn Bonner quoted NC GOP state chairperson, Robin Hayes, as stating,

As leaders in the school choice movement, we would be thrilled to host Secretary DeVos at the earliest possible time. We look forward to showing her North Carolina’s success, and examine ways how we can expand school choice with a now willing federal government” (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article131486504.html).

However, DeVos’s history is not one of sharing ideas as it is pushing an agenda, one that seems to be detrimental to the public schools.

Remember that her confirmation hearing was one that revealed a great many concerns that her real agenda was not to support public schools, but to support the always changing dynamics that weaken public schools to give validation to “reform” them.

From the confirmation hearing about funding:

“Can you commit to us tonight that you will not work to privatize public schools or cut a single penny from public education?” asked Sen. Patty Murray, Democrat from Washington.

“I look forward, if confirmed, to working with you to talk about how we address the needs of all parents and all students,” DeVos said. “We acknowledge today that not all schools are working for the students that are assigned to them. I’m hopeful that we can work together to find common ground and ways that we can solve those issues and empower parents to make choices on behalf of their children that are right for them.”

“I take that as not being willing to commit to not privatizing public schools or cutting money from education,” Murray said.

“I guess I wouldn’t characterize it in that way,” DeVos said.

In an expose for Mother Jones (yep, it’s liberal, but still cites quotes correctly) it was shared that:

However, in a 2001 interview for The Gathering, a group focused on advancing Christian faith through philanthropy, she and her husband offered a rare public glimpse of their views. Asked whether Christian schools should continue to rely on giving—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…Our desire is to confront the culture in ways that will continue to advance God’s kingdom” (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/01/betsy-devos-christian-schools-vouchers-charter-education-secretary).

Those are not the words of someone who is looking to strengthen public education; those are the words of someone who wants to dismantle public education. (Funny, c to think of it, those seem to be words that have emanated from the NC GOP the last four years.)

The NC GOP wants to “share ideas” about public education with a woman whose resume in public education looks like:

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They to “share ideas” about public education with someone who:

  • has no degree in education meaning she is not even educated in how to educate.
  • has no teaching experience
  • has never attended a public school or state supported university
  • has never sent any of her children to public schools.
  • has distributed monetary contributions to Christian-based schools and evangelical organizations conservatively estimated at $200 million.
  • has shown that she is totally anti-union and believes that teachers are paid too much.
  • has supported vouchers like no other.

The NC GOP wants to “share ideas” with someone who has no idea about public education but is supposed to lead the public school system.

The NC GOP wants to “share ideas” with someone who doesn’t even know have an idea about IDEA.

Call it for what it is – this exchange of ideas is really a meeting of like minds who have a similar agenda that has nothing to do with strengthening public schools.

But when DeVos does come to North Carolina, it will be interesting to see if she will visit any public schools. If any visit goes anything like what happened today in Washington, D.C. at Jefferson Middle School Academy, then DeVos will come face to face with the very majority of people who voiced opposition to her appointment.

devos2devos1

Yet, I will extend her an invitation to come to my school and my classroom. For all of the time and effort she has put in to show how public schools are failing, I would love to show her where public schools are succeeding despite efforts to dismantle them.

She can sit in on one of my classes, participate, talk to students, and experience a wonderful environment.

And I’ll even let her borrow a pencil.

That I bought.

With my money.

For my students to use.

devos3

Dr. Seuss And The Age of Trump

Donald Trump’s first three weeks in office have been rather tumultuous, yet surreal at the same time, and the references by many to dystopian novels have been plentiful.

1984 is the bestselling book of the past few weeks as the articles making comparisons between Trump’s tenure as president and Orwell’s “fictional” world immediately began to circulate when he took office and began to decree his executive orders.

References to other books like Handmaid’s Tale and Brave New World have also been made numerous times.

But there may be another writer who has eerily framed the present with past works.

That is Theodor Seuss Geisel. He is known to most people as Dr. Seuss.

In February of 2009, the eclectic magazine Mental Floss, published an article written by Stacy Conradt entitled “10 Stories Behind Dr. Seuss Stories” that provided background content for some of Theodor Seuss Geisel most well-known stories (http://mentalfloss.com/article/28843/10-stories-behind-dr-seuss-stories).

If you have never read a copy of Mental Floss, then treat yourself. It’s a rather nerdy respite from the world and highly engaging. We have subscribed to it for years.

When that article came out, I printed it and posted it to the peg board in my room at school. Occasionally, the need to reference Seuss still comes up in class.

Known for his ability to weave issues that surrounded the current political and social landscape of his time, Dr. Seuss was able to craft complex allegorical stories in such a way that it was palpable to the imagination of a child and the intellect of an aware adult.

However, while the stories themselves have reached an age that spans decades, their applicability and messages still have power and may be more relevant to the present than ever before.

Conradt specifically named 10 of Suess’s stories. While I will not refer to all of them, I will put in bold her descriptions of the texts she lists and then follow with my own observations.

  1. “The Lorax is widely recognized as Dr. Seuss’ take on environmentalism and how humans are destroying nature.”

Think of the executive orders that Trump signed in the first week that restarted the Keystone Pipeline construction and his move to take us out of the Paris Agreement. Add to that the freezing of grant programs for the EPA, the appointment of a controversial individual to head the EPA, and the shutting down the twitter accounts of the National Parks, and one can see how Trump has not really been the president that the Sierra Club would have wanted.

suess-lorax

  1. “Green Eggs and Ham. Bennett Cerf, Dr. Seuss’ editor, bet him that he couldn’t write a book using 50 words or less. The Cat in the Hat was pretty simple, after all, and it used 225 words. Not one to back down from a challenge, Mr. Geisel started writing and came up with Green Eggs and Ham—which uses exactly 50 words.”

Have you ever looked at the comments made by linguists who have studied the rhetoric of Trump on the campaign trail? They talk about the preponderance of one-syllable words and the repetition he uses. The only “Script” that I know of that uses more one-syllable words is the movie 300, but it had much better visuals.

suess-green-eggs

  1. “Horton Hears a Who! The line from the book, “A person’s a person, no matter how small,” has been used as a slogan for pro-life organizations for years. It’s often questioned whether that was Seuss’ intent in the first place, but when he was still alive, he threatened to sue a pro-life group unless they removed his words from their letterhead.”

Trump’s stance on abortion at one time was pro-choice, but it changed rather swiftly when he converted to the GOP and began to court the evangelical vote. However, while there may be a pro-life argument to be made with the text of Horton, it is the fact that Trump wanted to represent the average American that makes this book applicable – he wanted to let all “Whos” be heard.

Maybe that is why he has the most homogeneous cabinet in recent history and appointed more people from Wall Street to his cabinet than from Main Street.

seuss-horton-hears-a-who

  1. “Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!It’s often alleged that this book was written specifically about Richard Nixon, but the book came out only two months after the whole Watergate scandal. It’s unlikely that the book could have been conceived of, written, edited, and mass produced in such a short time; also, Seuss never admitted that the story was originally about Nixon.”

But the Trump – Nixon parallel has been made by many. In fact, Nixon seems rather fond of Trump.

suess-nixonsuess-marvinkmooneywillyoupleasegonowbookcover

  1. “Yertle the Turtle= Hitler? Yep. If you haven’t read the story, here’s a little overview: Yertle is the king of the pond, but he wants more. He demands that other turtles stack themselves up so he can sit on top of them to survey the land. Mack, the turtle at the bottom, is exhausted. He asks Yertle for a rest; Yertle ignores him and demands more turtles for a better view. Eventually, Yertle notices the moon and is furious that anything dare be higher than himself, and is about ready to call for more turtles when Mack burps. This sudden movement topples the whole stack, sends Yertle flying into the mud, and frees the rest of the turtles from their stacking duty.”

I am going to stay away from this one. Saturday Night Live has touched a little on this one.

suess-yertle_the_turtle_and_other_stories_cover

  1. “Butter Battle Book was pulled from the shelves of libraries for a while because of the reference to the Cold War and the arms race. Yooks and Zooks are societies who do everything differently. …The book concludes with each side ready to drop their ultimate bombs on each other, but the reader doesn’t know how it actually turns out.”

Trump / Putin? Check. Nuclear Arms race about to start again? Check.

suess-butter-battle-book

  1. “Oh The Places You’ll Go is Dr. Seuss’ final book, published in 1990. It sells about 300,000 copies every year because so many people give it to college and high school grads.”

With Betsy DeVos as the new secretary of education and revelations about the actions of Trump University, it seems that many of those future graduates are meant to come from schools that were once public but now “reformed” into privatized entities.

suess-places

  1. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas! In the Dr. Seuss-sanctioned cartoon, Frankenstein’s Monster himself, Boris Karloff, provided the voice of the Grinch and the narration. Seuss was a little wary of casting him because he thought his voice would be too scary for kids.”

I actually thought more of Steve Bannon with this one.

suess-grinchchristmas

  1. And I will add two others myself starting with The Sneetches. “Now, the Star-Bell Sneetches had bellies with stars. The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars.”

If you have never read The Sneetches then do so because you will see the obvious parallels to the Jewish nation when they had to be identified with a yellow star of David. With the recent debacle of not mentioning the Jews in reference to the Holocaust Remembrance Day, it seems this story would make all of us remember who was truly victimized.

seuss-sneetches

  1. And then there is The Big Brag.
  • “It’s gonna be huge.”
  • “It’s gonna be great.”
  • “We’re going to make America great again.”
  • “When you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.”

Enough said.

suess-big-brag

Melissa McCarthy and Acting the Truth

Donald Trump has literally revitalized Saturday Night Live.

Not because he hosted an episode in 2015, but because of the fodder he is giving the show. Alec Baldwin’s impression of the new president might just win him an Emmy Award, but what Melissa McCarthy pulled off this past weekend might be the best political satire of this television season.

When SNL spoofs the press secretary as the basis of a skit, then you know that the Trump administration is under an incredible self-created microscope. The more the president has attacked NBC and SNL (and Hollywood for that matter) through Twitter and other comments, the more the public tunes into shows like SNL to see if there is any response to him.

And Melissa McCarthy delivered as a Sean Spicer. The link is below:

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/sean-spicer-press-conference/3465162?snl=1

mccarthy-spicer

With references to how Spicer began his stint as press secretary – gum chewing, claims of standing ovations for Trump and crowd sizes, a red Herring with Finding Dory, the word “ban,” blasting the New York Times and CNN, not remembering people’s names, and just confrontational – was not only hilarious, but painfully realistic.

And to add to this fantastic skit was Kate McKinnon’s spoof of Betsy DeVos and DeVos’s inability to articulate educational issues. From her growth versus proficiency bungle, to shooting grizzly bears, to her evangelical motivations, McKinnon summed up DeVos’s non-qualifications to lead public schools in a matter of seconds.

mccarthy-devos

When has a nominee for secretary of education ever been spoofed on Saturday Night Live? And they wouldn’t do it unless they knew that the viewing public had already been apprised of DeVos’s disastrous confirmation hearing.

But McCarthy was not done for the weekend.

Her starring role in the environmentally-conscious ad for Kia won the USA TODAY ad meter contest for best ad during the Super Bowl.

mccarthyad

And don’t think that Donald Trump’s current leanings as far as the environment were not part of the “clean” fuel for many commercials. For that matter, immigration became a central theme in the commercials of this year. Just look at the Budweiser commercial about its beginnings with Adolphus Busch, or even the 84Lumber commercial that was “banned” from the television because it so provocatively commented on immigration.

And a WALL.

wall

McCarthy’s specific ad showed her trying to save whales, icecaps, trees, and rhinos while hilariously failing each time – but at least she stays intact and drives a hybrid car that is environmentally friendly.

And in a new presidency where the Keystone Pipeline has been put back into action, a removal of the US from the Paris Agreement, and an anti-environmentalist chosen to head the EPA (which has now gone rogue with its own “alt” twitter account) McCarthy’s presence not only helped to keep those issues in the view of the Super Bowl audience; it challenged Trump and his administration on their nebulous policies. Ironic considering that Kia is a South Korean company.

And manufactures their cars in Georgia, home of the Falcons who just lost an epic game in epic fashion.

A good weekend for Melissa McCarthy, but a better one for those who got to see her in action doing what we need to keep all presidents and politicians somewhat honest, or at least cognizant that their alternative truths are still false  – satirical insight.

Because that insight can help us find doors in those walls.

 

To Be An Atlanta Falcons Fan And Understanding Scrat the Squirrel

If you are a fan of the Ice Age movies, you know that the endless quest for the acorn carries Scrat through all five movies.

He almost gets it, and then it’s gone. An unforeseen force that foils him right at the very end.

And you say that it’s just a movie. Yet, if you are an Atlanta Falcons fan, it’s reality.

I am sure there are many bandwagon fans that rooted for the Falcons in this Super Bowl, but as a lifelong Falcon fan, this is another gut punch in my flabby abs.

To be an Atlanta Falcon fan is to know how to snatch victory from the jaws of victory.

I grew up watching Steve Bartkowski, Tim Mazzetti, Buddy Curry, and the two Alfreds sometimes move the football.

I have see William Andrews plow over people.

I lived through the Jerry Glanville days with Jeff George throwing to the other. I know what it is like to have Deion Sanders be one of your top scorers and not have played a down of offense.

I watched the Falcons lose in 1998 after Eugene Robinson was arrested for extra-curricular activity.

I watched Michael Vick get the richest contract in the NFL only to get caught running a dog-fighting ring.

I felt bad that Tony Gonzalez did not get  Super Bowl ring when the Falcons blew a large lead to San Fran a few years back.

And now this.

To be a Braves, Hawks, and Falcons fan is not easy. All of those chances and only one championship to show for it.

But I am not changing allegiance. I still have my jersey. I still will pull for the birds.

And it’s just more reason to hate the Patriots even more.

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Frederick Douglass Was “Banned” From Bowling Green, Ohio

It is a good thing that Donald Trump does not approve of the Common Core State Standards. If he did endorse them, then he would have to honor the fact that Frederick Douglass’s autobiography is actually mentioned in the “English Language Arts Standards » Standard 10: Range, Quality, & Complexity » Texts Illustrating the Complexity, Quality, & Range of Student Reading 6-12” portion as a text that fulfills the standard.

douglassccss

Also, it would mean that he would have to know American history – you know the history of the very country that he is the president of.

Last week to commemorate Black History month, Trump said the following:

“I am very proud now that we have a museum on the National Mall where people can learn about Reverend King, so many other things, Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice. Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and millions more black Americans who made America what it is today. Big impact.”

So he notices that Frederick Douglass has done an amazing job that people are recognizing!

Damn!

If one goes into the standards attached to the English Language Arts, there is a paragraph that summarizes the importance of grasping language skills.

To build a foundation for college and career readiness in language, students must gain control over many conventions of standard English grammar, usage, and mechanics as well as learn other ways to use language to convey meaning effectively. They must also be able to determine or clarify the meaning of grade-appropriate words encountered through listening, reading, and media use; come to appreciate that words have nonliteral meanings, shadings of meaning, and relationships to other words; and expand their vocabulary in the course of studying content. The inclusion of Language standards in their own strand should not be taken as an indication that skills related to conventions, effective language use, and vocabulary are unimportant to reading, writing, speaking, and listening; indeed, they are inseparable from such contexts (http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/CCRA/L/ ).

So maybe Trump and those he chooses to use language for him would know the meanings of words that are deemed rather elementary in difficulty? Like the word “ban?”

If you didn’t see Jake Tapper’s illuminating scolding of Sean Spicer and the use of the word “ban,” then treat yourself to this:

http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2017/01/31/trump-travel-ban-spicer-not-a-ban-tapper-lead-sot.cnn

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It’s fun and painful to look at.

And just when you thought it was safe to maybe escape the alternative standards of Trump’s uncommon core standards, we get this from Kellyanne Conway.

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In an interview last week with Chris Matthews on MSNBC Conway also weighed in on the “ban” that Spicer says and doesn’t say exists or is nonexistent.

“I bet it’s brand new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre. It didn’t get covered.”

Bowling Green. It’s in Ohio. Home of Bowling Green University which is the home of the Falcons.

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Apparently revisionist history is built on alternative facts, and Conway has already stated the dependence of the Trump administration on alternative facts.

Rumor is that the next executive order that Trump signs will be to ban Frederick Douglass from Bowling Green, Kentucky.

I can’t wait for Sean Spicer to answer questions about that in his next press conference and for KellyAnne Conway to explain what Spicer said the next day on television.

In the meantime enjoy this:

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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.

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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.

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Another review for another lard product:

 

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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With her name knitted on it.

Spelled incorrectly.