Open Letter to Sen. Bill Rabon – Be a Civil Servant and Allow House Bill 13 to Come to the Senate Floor

class size rose

Dear Senator Rabon,

I was disheartened as a public school teacher to learn that House Bill 13, which earned unanimous support in the state House, has been tabled in the state Senate, a situation that you could easily remedy.

And I am incensed as a parent of a special needs child in a public elementary school that this may very well cause local school districts to cut teacher assistant positions to fulfill a shortsighted legal statute concerning class sizes.

Last Sunday my hometown newspaper, the Winston-Salem Journal, reported in “Schools could cut assistants to hire more teachers, meet class size requirements,”

The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools district has started contingency planning in case the N.C. General Assembly doesn’t pass a bill that would give schools relief from impending class size reductions.

The district will keep any teacher assistants hired from now until the end of the school year on temporary employee rolls in an effort to avoid layoffs over the summer. If the state mandate on smaller class sizes kicks in, district leaders say they might be forced to cut some teacher assistant positions for next school year in order to keep offering art, music and physical education classes (http://www.journalnow.com/news/local/schools-could-cut-assistants-to-hire-more-teachers-meet-class/article_9440fea2-c230-5128-8cff-270cefb7d83b.html).

And today Billy Ball in NC Policy Watch reported in “School officials preparing to fire thousands of specialty teachers in order to meet K-3 classroom mandate,”

(Linda) Welborn, a Republican member of the Guilford County Board of Education, says her district—the third largest in the state—will need to find an additional $16.6 million and 242 new teaching positions to meet the state’s legislative mandate to cut class sizes for kindergarten through third grade beginning next school year.

“We would have to make such drastic cuts, we literally don’t know where we would come up with the money,” says Welborn. “You just don’t do that unless you have absolutely no choice but to do it.”

All across North Carolina, districts like Guilford County say a statutory loss of flexibility over class size may soon yield massive job losses statewide among arts, music and physical education teachers, as well as teacher assistants (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2017/04/06/school-officials-preparing-fire-thousands-specialty-teachers-order-meet-k-3-classroom-mandate/).

And what made that news so hard to digest was what Ball stated later.

One bipartisan-supported reprieve to the looming class size order, House Bill 13, gained unanimous approval in the state House in February, but despite advocates’ calls for urgent action this spring, the legislation has lingered in the Senate Rules Committee with little indication it will be taken up soon.

Sen. Bill Rabon, the influential eastern North Carolina Republican who chairs the committee, did not respond to Policy Watch interview requests, but his legislative assistant said this week that Rabon’s committee will not consider any House bills until the General Assembly’s April 27 crossover deadline.

Senator, this is unacceptable, especially in light of comments and stances you have taken in the past.

Consider what was reported in the summer of 2014 in the Wilimington StarNews Online edition for July 21st.

Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the “jury is still out” on the final budget and he can’t give teacher assistants a “definite how it’s going to come out in the wash.” Still, Rabon said he didn’t think the final budget would result in teacher assistants being laid off.

“It would be nice if we can work out an agreement to keep them, and I’m sure we will work toward that end,” Rabon said.

Rabon argues that the state is spending too much money on Medicaid and not enough on education and said an agreement could be reached on funding teacher assistants if the House would agree to make cuts to the program that provides health care for people who are poor and disabled (http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20140721/funds-for-teacher-assistants-in-doubt).

Well, considering that NC now is bragging about a surplus and is also bragging about not having expanded Medicaid, is funding education fully still a priority in your eyes because it appears that we as a state are not spending too much on Medicaid.

In May of 2014, you gave an interview to WHQR’s Katie O’Reilly concerning your stances on state issues (http://whqr.org/post/candidate-profile-bill-rabon-r-nc-senate-district-8#stream/0). This is what you said about public education:

“I would like to see all teachers—I would like to see all state employees, for that matter—have an increase in salary. Hopefully we can get there; it’s gonna take revenue reform, or tax reform, to do that. It’s going to take a change in the way the state does business to do that. The conundrum is, where do we get the money? Fifty-six cents or so out of every dollar that is spent in Raleigh now goes to education. Maybe we’re spending that fifty-six cents in the wrong place. Maybe the legislature should step back, and look at the forest, and stop looking at the tree, and say a dedicated portion of that money must go to teacher salary. And give a little more direction, if you will, to those people that are spending the money that the taxpayers are sending to us. The legislature doesn’t spend the money; we allocate the money. Maybe we should give them a little more direction.”

I appreciate your wanting to pay teachers and state employees more. I hope that also included wanting to teach teacher assistants more.

Yet that question you asked in the above quote is what confuses me. You asked, “Where do we get the money?” That’s the same exact question that each local school district is asking right now to come into compliance with a law you and your cronies in Raleigh have put on the books. And yet you seem to complain about how much money the state is spending on education: fifty-six cents on the dollar.

Fifty-six cents out of each dollar sounds like a lot the way you put it.

But you grossly misrepresent the situation.

Actually, the state is supposed to finance public education at that level because the North Carolina State Constitution stipulates it. That’s the same constitution you’re sworn to uphold.

The Public School Forum of North Carolina’s publication the 2014 Local School Finance Study provides a great history of the state’s practice in funding public schooling which is rooted in the proclamation that all children in the state ages 6-21 are guaranteed a good public education.

The state has the responsibility for the financing of basic functions for public education like salaries for personnel, services for special-needs students, technology, professional development, even textbooks. To say that the state spends 56%of its budget on public education and then consider that to be the end-all-and-be-all to the argument is really ignoring the reasons why such a dynamic exists.

In the past before your tenure in the NC Senate began, the state spent an even higher percentage on public education because THAT IS WHAT THE STATE CONSTITUTION DECLARED. Those percentages of spending are not a badge of honor that this General Assembly gets to wear; it was earned many decades ago. The fact that the percentage is getting lower actually is not a positive sign for this General Assembly. It is a reflection that the NCGA’s level of commitment to public education is wavering.

Since most of the state funding goes to salaries of certified and classified employees, the fact the percentage of funds from the state is not higher than it was in years past is indicative of the stagnated salaries NC gives to teachers and assistants. With the elimination of funds for professional development and talk of cutting thousands of teaching assistants, how can you brag about the level of money spent on public schooling?

In 2015, you became fairly well-known for a supposed “hit list” of 56 DOT jobs on the principle that more and more government jobs should be moved to the private sector. Never mind that a recent investigative report by WBTV out of Raleigh entitled “Senator steers millions in NCDOT contracts while taking campaign cash” talked about how you possibly benefitted from privatizing former government jobs (http://www.wbtv.com/story/34548894/senator-steers-millions-in-ncdot-contracts-while-taking-campaign-cash) .

What is ironic is that the three counties you fully represent (Bladen, Brunswick, and Pender) actually rely on the public school system to educate over 85% of the school aged children who reside there if numbers from the EdNC.org Data Dashboard for 2014-2015 are still consistent.

If you investigate the EdNC.org Data Dashboard even further, you may recognize that the three counties you represent also have very high levels of students receiving free and reduced lunches. Bladen County alone has over 90% who qualify. Certainly the refusal to expand Medicaid has affected people in your district as well.

Poverty, health, hunger all have effects on education.

What is more ironic is that in both Brunswick and Pender counties, the local LEA (public school district) is the NUMBER 1 EMPLOYER in the county. In Bladen County, the LEA is the second largest employer.

So the very entities that educate the vast majority of your constituents’ children and employ more people than any other entity may be compromised even further because of your unwillingness to put forth a bill that could do nothing but help?

All in the name of smaller class sizes and smaller government while we are experiencing an economic upswing?

If Guilford and Forsyth counties are having to consider letting go of teacher assistants, then I can only imagine what might happen in rural counties like the ones you represent.

Even just last week, DPI and retired Congresswoman Eva Clayton hosted an “Advocacy Day for Making Rural School Districts a Priority in North Carolina.” They called together leaders, educators, and policy makers to discuss issues that affect rural school districts – districts like Bladen, Brunswick, and Pender counties. Don’t complicate their situation by forcing them to make cuts to vital resources and personnel.

Allowing House Bill 13 to come to the floor would be a great step in the right direction. However, your lack of action would be a giant leap backwards.

 

 

For Once I May Have Liked What Lt. Gov. Dan Forest Said – But Not For the Reasons He Would Like

Rural Center county classifications

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest’s recent comments concerning “bridging the digital divide” at the “Advocacy Day for Making Rural School Districts a Priority” event were actually very heartening to hear – for more than one reason.

If you have followed the North Carolina public school funding discussion, disparities between affluent metropolitan areas and economically depressed rural areas are hard to ignore, especially when it comes to getting local funds to help subsidize teacher salary supplements and resources. It might be one of the reasons that charter schools and voucher advocates have has so much traction in the rural parts of the Tarheel state.

But Lt. Gov. Forest said something that was very encouraging. Refer to Alex Granados’s article in EdNC.org entitled “State leaders speak out on education at rural advocacy day” (https://www.ednc.org/2017/03/30/state-leaders-speak-education-rural-advocacy-day/).

He said that five years ago, before he was in his current position, he thought the state could lead the nation in high speed broadband access to classrooms. Now, North Carolina is on the verge of achieving that goal. That will help “students in poor rural North Carolina have the same hope and opportunity for an excellent education as students in wealthier parts of our state that have had for years,” he said.  

He also decried the fact that even with all the technological advances, the education field still is not level. 

“Shame on us in this day and age that we still have schools that are not at par with one another across our state,” he said. 

There are two operative words here: “poor” and “shame.” However, the reasons for the propagation of poverty in North Carolina and our need to feel shame for that is more than a single post could ever handle. But it is something that the Lt. Gov. could do a much better job of addressing on West Jones Street. Instead of using poverty and shame as fuel for privatizing education, he should listen to what he said very closely and then read this op-ed that appeared in The New York Times this past Sunday entitled “Who Needs Charters When You Have Public Schools Like These?” by David Kirp (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/01/opinion/sunday/who-needs-charters-when-you-have-public-schools-like-these.html).

Kirp is a professor at UC-Berkley which is considered by many to be the finest public university in the nation. California’s public university system is also a leading world-class system. Ironically, so is North Carolina’s, despite what the current administration in the General Assembly and the past administration in the governor’s mansion have done to weaken it.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest has been a part of both of both of those.

In this op-ed, Kirp talks about the use of technology in poor rural areas for public schools that are helping students bridge achievement gaps that people have been touting charter schools and vouchers as being the solutions for –people like Lt. Dan Forest and another recent visitor to North Carolina, Betsy DeVos.

The same technology that Kirp talks about in his op-ed is easily facilitated in the scenario that Forest claims North Carolina has put into place, so much that we as a state are “on the verge” of “lead(ing) the nation in high speed broadband access to classrooms.”

Here are some of Professor Kirp’s observations:

“Ms. DeVos, the new secretary of education, dismisses public schools as too slow-moving and difficult to reform. She’s calling for the expansion of supposedly nimbler charters and vouchers that enable parents to send their children to private or parochial schools. But Union shows what can be achieved when a public school system takes the time to invest in a culture of high expectations, recruit top-flight professionals and develop ties between schools and the community.”

Investment? Recruitment of high-quality teachers? Retaining those teachers? Allow for ties between schools and communities? Wow! Novel ideas.

But lawmakers like Lt. Dan Forest seem to be too busy protecting us from nonexistent transgender sexual assaults in school locker rooms, clouding up any transparency for charter school growth, and funneling untold amounts of money into a voucher system that is inappropriately named “Opportunity Grants.”

Kirp further discusses,

“The school district also realized, as Ms. Burden put it, that “focusing entirely on academics wasn’t enough, especially for poor kids.” Beginning in 2004, Union started revamping its schools into what are generally known as community schools. These schools open early, so parents can drop off their kids on their way to work, and stay open late and during summers. They offer students the cornucopia of activities — art, music, science, sports, tutoring — that middle-class families routinely provide. They operate as neighborhood hubs, providing families with access to a health care clinic in the school or nearby; connecting parents to job-training opportunities; delivering clothing, food, furniture and bikes; and enabling teenage mothers to graduate by offering day care for their infants.”

Again, wow!

Supporting the arts and a holistic approach to curriculum? Health care clinics? Job training?

But lawmakers like Lt. Dan Forest have been too busy in the last few years suffocating public school systems to the point where they have to meet demands for class sizes that force them to sacrifice these very same programs. And health care? Just look at the hardened reluctance to expand Medicaid for these “poor” rural people.

That’s real “shame.”

Kirp concludes his op-ed,

“Under the radar, from Union City, N.J., and Montgomery County, Md., to Long Beach and Gardena, Calif., school systems with sizable numbers of students from poor families are doing great work. These ordinary districts took the time they needed to lay the groundwork for extraordinary results.

Will Ms. DeVos and her education department appreciate the value of investing in high-quality public education and spread the word about school systems like Union? Or will the choice-and-vouchers ideology upstage the evidence?”

Ironically, you would only have to substitute LT. Dan Forest’s name in that op-ed for Betsy DeVos as Forest is an avid supporter of DeVos’s policies. He was one of 70 leaders and organizations to sign an open letter of support for DeVos during her contentious confirmation process (http://www.excelined.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/2017.01.27-OpenLetterEndorsementforBetsyDeVos-FINAL.pdf?utm_source=ExcelinEd&utm_campaign=50bf72e4fa-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_01_27&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0473a80b81-50bf72e4fa-).

“Betsy DeVos is an undisputed champion of families and students. For nearly 30 years she has devoted time and resources to improving education options for our nation’s children. Yet millions still languish in failing schools in an education system more than a century old. It’s time for a new vision.

Betsy DeVos provides that vision. She embraces innovation, endorses accountability and—most especially—trusts parents to choose what is in their unique child’s best interests. She also believes in providing every parent with the resources and choices to pursue those decisions.

On this week, National School Choice Week, we the undersigned endorse this champion of choice and the education reforms needed to improve the future of every child in America. And we strongly advocate for her confirmation as our next U.S. Secretary of Education. “

Remember that last year, Forest admonished DPI for its report on charter schools because it was not “positive” enough. He also is one of the most ardent supporters of HB2 because of his strident cause of protecting women and children from a nonexistent threat. And in a recent visit to Texas during their push for a bathroom law, he was keen to point out that there has been no economic fallout from HB2 in North Carolina contrary to multiple reports including a recent one from the Associated Press.

He called it “another attempt to mislead and confuse the public through a bogus headline.” The he added, “Our economy is doing well. Don’t be fooled by the media.”

But that internet thing and getting the rural areas connected? He’s totally right about that.

April 3, 2017 – An Especially Antipodean Day in the Walking Contradiction That is the Antithetical Secretary of Education

There was a disturbance in the Force today in the Old North State.

No not…

darth-vader-10-most-dangerous-star-wars-villains

But…

Betsy DeVos testifies before the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee confirmation hearing

As Alex Granados of EdNC.org reported on April 3rd,

On Monday, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made her first visit to a Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) school since being sworn in.

She came to Kimberly Hampton Primary School in Fort Bragg as part of the Month of the Military Child. 

“It’s a real privilege to be able to come here today and highlight the important role that military children have — that we have on behalf of military children, whose lives are often very transient as you all know,” DeVos said. “And we need to pay a special tribute to they and their families and to ensure that they have the best opportunity for a great education” (https://www.ednc.org/2017/04/03/education-secretary-visits-fort-bragg/).

First, I must thank Mrs. DeVos for coming to our military friendly state.

Secondly, I want to thank her again for butchering the English language when she stated that she wanted to “pay a special tribute to they.”

But most of all, I want to point out the absolute impeccable timing of this visit and the ancillary activity that surrounded it.

During that visit, DeVos tweeted the following,

devos fort bragg

And she’s right about that. North Carolina is the most military friendly state in the country as far as bases are concerned. Children of the military and their parents face challenges like no other.

But I find it ironic that someone who touts school choice, vouchers, and charters would say that about students who are, as she says, “very transient.” Wouldn’t that mean that their schools should be well-funded and well-resourced to be successful so that no matter where their families were stationed they would receive a good education?

At least that what DeVos says. And she is touting a budget that actually forced the DoDEA to have to seek an exemption because it created a hiring freeze. As reported in places like http://www.feaonline.org/passport/issues/hiringfreeze.htm,

By blocking the hiring of any new employees, the President’s plan could make it impossible for DoDEA to replace educators who retire or otherwise separate from the school system. Since the students would still remain and still require a teacher to teach them, it is not clear how DoDEA would deal with such vacancies without relying on substitutes (who are already in short supply and are not a viable long-term solution) or increasing class sizes (and thereby doing serious harm to the quality of education).

But what really was interesting was what broke in the Washington Post later that day.

Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel

Blackwater was founded by Erik Prince.

Erik Prince is Betsy DeVos’s brother.

Listen to this junk.

The United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladi­mir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump, according to U.S., European and Arab officials (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/blackwater-founder-held-secret-seychelles-meeting-to-establish-trump-putin-back-channel/2017/04/03/95908a08-1648-11e7-ada0-1489b735b3a3_story.html?utm_term=.ccae3abbad8e).

What?

Go further.

Prince is best known as the founder of Blackwater, a security firm that became a symbol of U.S. abuses in Iraq after a series of incidents, including one in 2007 in which the company’s guards were accused — and later criminally convicted — of killing civilians in a crowded Iraqi square. Prince sold the firm, which was subsequently re-branded, but has continued building a private paramilitary empire with contracts across the Middle East and Asia. He now heads a Hong Kong-based company known as the Frontier Services Group.

Prince would probably have been seen as too controversial to serve in any official capacity in the Trump transition or administration. But his ties to Trump advisers, experience with clandestine work and relationship with the royal leaders of the Emirates — where he moved in 2010 amid mounting legal problems for his American business — would have positioned him as an ideal go-between.

2300-Seychelles-0401

 

So this is what seems to have happened today:

Betsy DeVos visited North Carolina (the most military friendly state in the country) today to tout school choice for a segment of the population that was originally ignored by a budget she touted while her brother, who set up a charter school version of a paramilitary overseas that took tax payer money and killed innocent Iraqi civilians who had no weapons of mass destruction during a war that claimed lives of American soldiers who trained at the very base DeVos was visiting, was being exposed as having set up secret meeting for Trump to assist in communicating with a man known for meddling in the affairs of the free-world all while living in one of the two predominantly Muslim nations that were not on the original banned list for Trump’s executive order because of original business ties to the president.

Yep. That sounds about right.

And one of the men who backed DeVos’s confirmation without any hesitation was North Carolina’s senior senator, Richard Burr who now is helping to head the Senate Intelligence Committee that is investigating the very role that Russia had in meddling with the election.

Damn, I’ve learned a lot with Betsy at the helm. A hell of a lot.

A Lesson From Baseball That Includes Not LollyGagging

I respect great coaches because they teach young people that life is not just a game, but a journey.

This showed up on a twitter feed this evening and it applied somewhat to what I have been explaining to my students in class as the AP exams come up. It’s from Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs who now has a little jewelry to put on his ring finger.

But like a great coach, he has no time to admire what he has done. He’s to busy guiding his team.

maddon

Be present. You have to show up and be in that moment.

I teach four sections of Advanced Placement English. I have some bright, motivated students, many of whom take upwards of six AP classes, play sports, and do extra-curriculars. Some even have jobs.

They are stressed about right now. My class is not easy. If it was, then I would not be teaching it. With about a month until AP exams, students begin asking how many multiple choice questions they need to get correct or how well they need to do (on average) to pass the AP exam.

And I tell them the same thing every time. “Why would you have me tell you what you should do to do the bare minimum of what others may consider adequate? Only you can determine that.”

I am hoping they take more pride in the process of becoming self-learners who are self-motivated and self-driven and ultimately self-defined. Ultimately, if they seek to always improve instead of always being perfect, then there will be a point where they do not seek validation from an exam grade from a nameless face.

They will get validation because they believe in the process.

How appropriate that this quote comes out on Opening Day.

 

Play ball.  And don’t be a lollygagger.

Skip: You guys. You lollygag the ball around the infield. You lollygag your way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes you? Larry!
Larry: Lollygaggers!
Skip: Lollygaggers.

lolly

By the way, Bull Durham is one of the best written movies ever.

The Sartorial Splendor of Malcolm – A Fashionable Musing That Will Make You Jealous Of…

…vestiary  genius.

Our handsome little man is the spitting image of his stunning mother. No doubt of the maternal resemblance.

He got his ability to talk with the ladies from his Grandpa Ed.

He got his dance moves from listening to his sister’s music.

So what did he get from his paterfamilias? And dammit, I am the paterfamilias!

paterfamilias

FASHION SENSE!

Style.

Vogue.

Trend Setter.

The GQ Gene.

Knowing what to wear and when to wear is not learned. It’s in the blood. And we have the proof.

mal1

Here Malcolm models pirate underwear, white socks, teal colored shirt and over sized water shoes – a must-have for the spring season. It’s colorful, airy, and comfy.

mal2

Here we have the early morning Olivia Newton-John / Xanadu / I am about to do aerobics in my pj’s / outfit with glasses and a bowl of Cheetos. Headband and facial expressions are vital accessories.

mal3

This outfit is perfect for bedtime stories and communicating that you do not want any more ear drops for the ear infection.

mal4

With the Final Four this weekend, it is hard to forget the baggy shorts of the Fab Five from the University of Michigan. However, instead of basketball shoes, we have water slippers and a baseball undershirt.

mal5

West Wear. Mix and match. Can’t go wrong. Again notice the baggy shorts.

mal6

Baggy shorts with sweater vest. NO UNDERSHIRT! That is a must for this look. However, you must have the “pipes” to pull off the work casual of the sweater vest without the shirt underneath.

Sometimes you can accessorize with black socks with black flops.

mal7

Napolean Dynamite boots. One can dance in them as well.

napolean

mal8

No need to explain. When you wear a cape, all else matches! He’s wearing a tie – must be an important meeting. The head band means that he is ready for lots of thinking.

mal9

Again, West Wear goes with anything.

mal10

And last, but not least, the no-socks look.

 

 

 

Raleigh, Pass House Bill 13 Because All The World’s A Stage

globe theatre

O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene! Henry V, Prologue.

North Carolina House Bill 13, which would grant local school districts flexibility to combat class size limits imposed by last year’s short-sighted budget, is currently stalled in Raleigh.

It is like the scripts are in revision and the players are ready to rehearse. But production has been halted.

It seems there are too many directors behind the scenes too busy worrying about how much money they will net rather than what will actually need to transpire on that stage.

The thought that local school districts are being kept in limbo (and in what some might call a hostage situation) concerning programs like the arts is more than disconcerting. To stay aligned with state law, school districts will have to lower class sizes and for elementary schools that could mean a variety of things. One scenario is to do away with specialties like arts and physical education. Or, sadly, it could be that they lay off some of the players in the acting troupe.

From the Winston-Salem Journal this past Friday in an article entitled “Schools could cut assistants to hire more teachers, meet class size requirements,”

The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools district has started contingency planning in case the N.C. General Assembly doesn’t pass a bill that would give schools relief from impending class size reductions.

The district will keep any teacher assistants hired from now until the end of the school year on temporary employee rolls in an effort to avoid layoffs over the summer. If the state mandate on smaller class sizes kicks in, district leaders say they might be forced to cut some teacher assistant positions for next school year in order to keep offering art, music and physical education classes (http://www.journalnow.com/news/local/schools-could-cut-assistants-to-hire-more-teachers-meet-class/article_9440fea2-c230-5128-8cff-270cefb7d83b.html) .

“We currently have legislation … that, when passed, overlooked the fact that regular teacher allotments do not separate out art, music, PE,” said Superintendent Beverly Emory. “Our board agreed and we’ve said from the get-go that we’re not laying off teachers; we’re not doing away with those programs.”

Cutting some teacher assistants next school year is one strategy the district is considering, Emory said, to deal with the class size reduction that would require the district to hire “as many as 200 additional teaching positions… with no additional funding.”

Either way, the production of what happens on the stage of school will be altered by a set of directors (lawmakers) whose parsimonious eyes on the bottom lines seem to contradict the bragging about what a great state (wait for the pun) our state’s economy is in with surpluses and all.

On March 31st, I was fortunate to see a production at Wake Forest University of Macbeth, the infamous Scottish Shakespearean play of greed and ambition. I never pass on a chance to visit my alma mater and did so with two erudite friends who value the intrinsic worth of art like it is the currency of life.

Go see it if you have a chance. It’s at the Tedford theatre, named after a Wake legend whose daughter happens to be a legend herself.

macbeth

http://events.wfu.edu/event/macbeth_1588#.WN-gCvnyu00

And it was fabulous. Students less than half my age grappling with a cautionary tale to remind us that what resides in us as humans has so much power over not just us as individuals but society as a whole (oftentimes in a negative fashion).

Macbeth is driven by ambition and greed, and however you want to interpret the role of the witches and the supernatural, you cannot mistake the parallels between Shakespeare and the modern world or even modern North Carolina. It teaches us what happens when those who are corrupted by power become “poor players.”

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. Macbeth, V, v.

Oddly enough, the audience for a Shakespearean play when it would have originally been produced would have spanned all socio-economic backgrounds. The peddler, the merchant, the midwife, the prostitute, the clergyman, the nobleman, and sometimes members of royalty would have all been housed together to see what transpired on a stage to soak in social commentary and be a part of the fiber of being.

That’s what the art produced on the stage allowed for. Do we have anything that does that with American society today which can speak across social barriers besides money?

Yes. Art.

We all are affected by it especially the lack of it. One of Shakespeare’s most famous soliloquies is from the comedy As You Like It metaphorically explaines that. Spoken by Jaques, it begins,

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts… As You Like It, II, vii.

During last night’s production, I thought of all of the focus that the past McCrory administration and current NC General Assembly placed upon STEM education, steering funds and emphasis away from a well-rounded curriculum that celebrated multiple intelligences. Yes, we need to pay attention to an ever-changing global economy that demands a more highly technically skilled workforce. Yes, we need to build bigger, better, more elaborate, more multi-functional stages.

But what productions will be shown on those stages?

Wake Forest University is beginning to introduce more engineering and more bio-medical programs on its campuses. But the Deacons have not forgotten their liberal arts. Even the city where Wake resides, Winston-Salem, has the reputation as the “City of Arts and Innovation.”

To force school systems to take away arts programs would be like settling for a well-built stage and having no shows performed on it – a nice empty venue without substance, without memories, without meaning. It would be foolish. It would be tragic.

When we are born, we cry that we are come
To this great stage of fools. King Lear, IV, vi.

The very stage that originally housed the first production of Macbeth is gone. But the art of the play still lives and grows and takes new meaning and even provides clarity to new times.

It you want to see a thriving high school, more often than not it has a highly involved drama and music programs that serve as outlets for students with creative intelligences. They not only build sets; they produce art on stage.

What we remember from those performances was not necessarily how well the stage was built. We remember what was done on them. Whether that stage was in an auditorium, on a canvas, on a football field or basketball court, or electronically created, the production is what makes the stage come alive. Not vice versa.

Lawmakers in Raleigh should strongly pursue passing HB13. Then they should start fully funding schools.

If not, many will walk around as the melancholic Antonio, the Merchant of Venice.

I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano,
A stage where every man must play a part,
And mine a sad one. Merchant of Venice, I, i.

Good thing Antonio has a happy ending thanks to a cross-dressing woman.

West Jones Street and The Eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg

“But above the gray land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic — their irises are one-yard high. They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose. Evidently some wild wag of an oculist set them there to fatten his practice in the borough of Queens, and then sank down himself into eternal blindness, or forgot them and moved away. But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days, under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground” (The Great Gatsby, Chapter 2).

Almost every student who passes through an American literature class has the opportunity to at least glimpse into the classic text of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

In a day and age of instant gratification and movie adaptations, plot lines and lists of symbols are easily accessed, the patience needed to be pleasantly haunted by a work of true literature sometimes escapes even the best of intentions.

But Gatsby is a book that is rather quick to read, easy to absorb, and forever reflected upon. Among my junior English classes, whether AP level or not, Gatsby tends to be the favorite. Students feel smarter for having read it. They despise the right people. They wrestle with the shallowness of the characters. They seem to like the character who spent so much time becoming the person he was not. They come to look at a narrator as unreliable.

And they pick up on the symbols like the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg.

When someone sits for a picture or portrait and stares straight into the lens the result is the appearance of constant eye contact. The poster of James Baldwin in my classroom as he looks into the camera allows his eyes to always make contact with mine no matter where I am in the classroom. His smile, however, takes away any preclusion of judgement.

But the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg simply stare without any other expression. They are there to judge. They are the “eyes of God” in a society where many in power lack a moral compass, show spiritual depravity, and worship profit more than the welfare of others.

eyes1

They never blink.

They always look.

They seem to see all.

I followed him over a low whitewashed railroad fence, and we walked back a hundred yards along the road under Doctor Eckleburg’s persistent stare (Chapter 2).

I am thinking of starting a GoFundMe Page to raise money to construct another billboard for the obviously deceased and still fictional Doctor T. J. Eckleburg complete with the same “blue and gigantic” eyes with “irises one-yard high” on “no face” complete with “a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose.”

And this billboard would be placed right outside of the North Carolina General Assembly building on West Jones Street, possibly near the parking area where each lawmaker who leaves the building would have to lock eyes with the celestial oculist after a day of wielding power that affects so many people.

“I spoke to her,” he muttered, after a long silence. “I told her she might fool me but she couldn’t fool God. I took her to the window.”— with an effort he got up and walked to the rear window and leaned with his face pressed against it ——” and I said ‘God knows what you’ve been doing, everything you’ve been doing. You may fool me, but you can’t fool God!’”

Standing behind him, Michaelis saw with a shock that he was looking at the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg, which had just emerged, pale and enormous, from the dissolving night (Chapter 8).

Amazingly enough, if you were to visit the webpages of most of these lawmakers during election periods you might find some sort of piety meter that reflects their allegiance to a faith in God and Christian tenets.

We are in the Bible Belt. We are in a nation that calls itself Christian. We are by far the most evangelical country in the world. We are used to hearing people talk about how they bare their souls to God and look to God for guidance.

Yet,

  • Lawmakers just passed a resolution to repeal a discriminatory law that still allows for discrimination.
  • Lawmakers are sitting on bills like HB13 that are forcing public school systems to contemplate how to keep vital arts programs alive and keep teacher assistants in classrooms that are already crowded.
  • Lawmakers are funneling more money to religious private schools like Trinity Christian which is under investigation for embezzlement and shoddy accounting.
  • Lawmakers are refusing to expand Medicaid that would help more North Carolinians.
  • Lawmakers are considering measures like HB467 to keep NC residents from suing industrial farms for polluting their air and water.
  • Lawmakers are considering increasing health care costs for state employees while bragging about “surpluses.”

I understand. It may be a tad bit hyperbolic to equate a book that talks of a man who uses organized crime to build a life of opulence during the “Jazz Age” / “Age of Prohibition” in an attempt to control destiny who ends up crossing paths with a man of immense wealth who steamrolls over people because he can and looks at women and minorities as inferior then eventually gets killed by a mentally, spiritually, and financially crushed man to a modern setting.

Or is it?

By the way, the original billboard for Dr. Eckleburg is in the “Valley of Ashes.” Imagine if those ashes got into the water.

eyes2

 

Balderdash and Bilgewater, a Theory in Reactionary Tweeting – Following Betsy Devos’s Twitter Feed

This has become more of a habit for me. It is as if reading the twitter feeds from certain people has become one of the very ways to catch a glimpse into a scripted psyche of some of our public officials.

Trump has made as art of using Twitter as a means of communication and as a way of driving conversation. However, Betsy DeVos is not as fluid in this regard.

In fact, she’s quite reactionary in her approach. It’s almost as if she uses Twitter as a means to communicate the politically correct version of what she said in the first place. And what she tweets is still in direct contradiction to what she does or has said in the past.

Just follow her twitter feed. It is here: @BetsyDeVosED

No. I am serious. Follow it. What Trump uses as a means to lash out, DeVos uses as a means to build paper bridges.

And what surprises me is the relatively few numbers of followers she has, much less “retweets.”

But it is an amazing little journey and a neat exercise to juxtapose her tweets to what reality has presented to us.

tweet1

Every student? That’s not what many said when DeVos was nominated in late 2016. In fact, most public school advocates were very dismayed at her nomination.

But Ms. DeVos’s efforts to expand educational opportunity in her home state of Michigan and across the country have focused little on existing public schools, and almost entirely on establishing newer, more entrepreneurial models to compete with traditional schools for students and money. Her donations and advocacy go almost entirely toward groups seeking to move students and money away from what Mr. Trump calls “failing government schools” (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/23/us/politics/betsy-devos-trumps-education-pick-has-steered-money-from-public-schools.html?_r=1).

tweet2

When I see this, I seem to remember her confirmation hearing and her comments about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. From the Washington Post – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/01/18/six-astonishing-things-betsy-devos-said-and-refused-to-say-at-her-confirmation-hearing/?utm_term=.7200fa4402ea:

  • DeVos seemed to have no understanding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, known as IDEA, which requires public schools to provide free and appropriate education to all students with disabilities.

DeVos said that states should have the right to decide whether to enforce IDEA, but when Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) later told her that IDEA is a federal civil rights law and asked DeVos if she stood by her statement that it was up to the states to follow it, DeVos responded, “Federal law must be followed where federal dollars are in play.” Hassan then asked, “So were you unaware when I just asked you about the IDEA that it was a federal law?” DeVos responded, “I may have confused it.” DeVos did not protest when Hassan said she was upset the nominee didn’t understand the law and urged her to learn about it.

tweet3

The feeling is mutual!

Not really. Because here’s DeVos’s resume when it comes to education:

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tweet4

Especially, from grizzly bear attacks.

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

tweet5

From The Advocate – http://www.advocate.com/politicians/2017/1/18/should-lgbt-people-trust-betsy-devos.

However, the public record does not reflect DeVos’s statement. In an op-ed for The Advocate,titled “Betsy DeVos Is a Threat to America’s Children,” the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, noted this core family’s “long record of opposing LGBT equality.”

“Foundations run by her parents and her husband’s parents have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Focus on the Family, a group that’s promoted damaging gay ‘conversion therapy’ and called homosexuality ‘preventable and treatable,'” Weingarten noted.

“A foundation run by her husband’s brother and sister-in-law donated $500,000 to the antigay National Organization for Marriage, and a foundation run by DeVos and her husband has donated more than $100,000 to the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy. DeVos’s late father, Edgar Prince, helped found the Family Research Council; her mother, Elsa Prince Broekhuizen, sits on the boards of the FRC and the Acton Institute, which sponsored a conference held by an antigay hate group.”

tweet6

When she took stage at that event, she opened with this gem.

“I’m Betsy DeVos. You may have heard some of the ‘wonderful’ things the mainstream media has called me lately. I, however, pride myself on being called a mother, a grandmother, a life partner, and perhaps the first person to tell Bernie Sanders to his face that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

So much for free and reduced lunches.

tweet7

Those tweets were sent out literally in response to this press release.

FEBRUARY 28, 2017

Contact:   Press Office, (202) 401-1576, press@ed.gov

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released the following statement after meeting with presidents and chancellors of Historically Black Colleges and Universities at the White House:

A key priority for this administration is to help develop opportunities for communities that are often the most underserved. Rather than focus solely on funding, we must be willing to make the tangible, structural reforms that will allow students to reach their full potential.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have done this since their founding. They started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education. They saw that the system wasn’t working, that there was an absence of opportunity, so they took it upon themselves to provide the solution.

HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.

Their counsel and guidance will be crucial in addressing the current inequities we face in education. I look forward to working with the White House to elevate the role of HBCUs in this administration and to solve the problems we face in education today.

tweet8

Which means that we should fully fund schools, right? Then why is she supporting a budget hat more than takes a tenth of the funds the federal government allocates to public education?

tweet9

Interestingly enough, one can go into any public school and find students just like Denisha. In fact they may not be the outliers, but the norms in many schools.

tweet10

So that means all school should be great, right? Betsy, are you listening to yourself? Or are you hearkening back to this?

“Betsy DeVos has consistently worked against these values, and her efforts over the years have done more to undermine public education than support students. She has lobbied for failed schemes, like vouchers — which take away funding and local control from our public schools — to fund private schools at taxpayers’ expense. These schemes do nothing to help our most-vulnerable students while they ignore or exacerbate glaring opportunity gaps. She has consistently pushed a corporate agenda to privatize, de-professionalize and impose cookie-cutter solutions to public education. By nominating Betsy DeVos, the Trump administration has demonstrated just how out of touch it is with what works best for students, parents, educators and communities.” – Lily Eskelsen Garcia, NEA President

tweet11

Reading Suess? Maybe pass along The Lorax to your boss considering what he is doing to the EPA.

tweet12

Been there. https://caffeinatedrage.com/2017/03/18/about-betsy-devoss-op-ed-in-usa-today/

tweet13

Nice words. But do the actions go with them? This is what public school advocates see.

  • Betsy DeVos has no degree in education meaning she is not even educated in how to educate.
  • Betsy DeVos has no teaching experience. NONE, but is the leading official for public schools in the nation.
  • Betsy DeVos never attended a public school or state supported university. None of her children have either.
  • Betsy DeVose’s monetary contributions to Christian-based schools and evangelical organizations have been conservatively estimated at $200 million.
  • Betsy DeVos is totally anti-union and believes that teachers are paid too much.
  • Betsy DeVos supports vouchers like no other.

 

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Betsy DeVos and Malala do not even come together in the same thought.

Malala won a Nobel Prize for holding her own Women’s March against a tyrannical machine. DeVos cowers to a man who was the reason millions of women marched in January.

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DeVos went nuts on Twitter on March 13th. Just wanted to share that.

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That budget according to many actually deprioritizies public education and hurts the most disadvantaged kids. NPR’s report (http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/03/16/520261978/trumps-budget-blueprint-pinches-pennies-for-education) states,

Eliminated

  • The $2.25 billion Supporting Effective Instruction program, also known as Title II, Part A. This grant program for states was designated to better recruit, support and train educators, particularly for high-need schools.
  • The $1.2 billion 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which provided before- and after-school enrichment, tutoring and other services.
  • The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, which provides $732 million in need-based aid for college students.

Cut

  • $193 million from TRIO and GEARUP, programs that help prepare low-income, first-generation and disabled students for college, starting in middle school.

For the Pell Grant, the federal government’s main income-based college aid program, the proposal calls for “level funding.” But, that “level” technically includes “a cancellation of $3.9 billion from unobligated carryover funding.” So, while Pell Grant funding would not go down, that $3.9 billion would not be available.

Pell spending has actually been on a downward trend since 2010-2011, but it had been expected to rise following a series of Obama administration changes to make it easier for families to apply for the grant.

Other

The proposal “eliminates or reduces” a list of programs without giving further details, including: “Striving Readers, Teacher Quality Partnership, Impact Aid Support Payments for Federal Property, and International Education programs.”

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Again, validating with an outlier.

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Dream big.

Or just wish you were born rich?

Why I Am Applying For An Application To Open An Accounting Charter School to Audit All Religious Schools In NC That Take Voucher Money…Or

Why Lindsay Wagner’s article today on Trinity Christian School should make us rethink the Opportunity Grants.

We need this kind of journalistic integrity more now than ever.

http://ajf.org/ncs-largest-voucher-school-embroiled-embezzlement-scandal-submits-incomplete-financial-statements-state/

“NC’s largest voucher school, embroiled in embezzlement scandal, files incomplete financial statements with state”

What That Billboard Taught Me About Real Men

The Consitution gives us Americans the right of freedom of speech.

 

And that means we can advertise on billboards.

Apparently that billboard on I-40 between Winston-Salem and K-Vegas is experiencing the most testosterone-driven liberty America has to offer, but it is coming at a cost.

No. I do not mean it is driving a wedge between us as a nation. That was already there.

But it is showing us that real men do not have a need for better schooling in grammar and logic as well as in maintaining identity. Real men are above that.

Here is the latest billboard.

coupons

So, “Real Men Don’t Use Coupons Our coupons have pictures of dead Presidents and Statesman, and are good anytime anyplace.”

So we have a run-on sentence that contradicts itself by utilizing something that the speaker claims to not use (coupons) and erroneously capitalizes titles without proper names behind the then fails to pluralize an object of a preposition to keep accuracy then inserts a comma where it is not needed then does not separate two adverbs with a comma that modify the same adjective.

That’s about as grammatically correct as… the last billboard.

If you have kept up with the saga of the “Real Men” billboards, then you know that the owner of the billboard rental business, Bill Whiteheart, would not identify the people responsible for the first two installments which were:

“Real men provide. Real women appreciate it.”

“Much Ado About Nothing. A social experiment that brought forth those so immersed in their own insecurity that in the mirror they could only see an angry victim of their incorrect interpretation of a silly billboard — Bless their hearts.”

This blog had posts on both of those billboards-

https://caffeinatedrage.com/2017/03/01/real-men-dont-use-billboards-to-tell-any-woman-what-they-should-do/

https://caffeinatedrage.com/2017/03/05/shakespeare-and-that-billboard/

But according to the Winston-Salem Journal article on this particular billboard, this renter of this message has no problem whatsoever in identifying himself (http://www.journalnow.com/news/local/man-takes-credit-for-puzzling-new-business-billboard/article_013de4a9-5a95-55f2-b084-0dbe5093f679.html#comments).

The billboard also lists a website, which identifies Mitch Carr, an auto mechanic from Kensington, Md., as the man behind the billboard.

 

The website says Carr, who runs a Mercedes Repair business outside of Washington, D.C., enjoys challenging political views and is “politically in the center but believes that people with running water, heat, air conditioning and full bellies shouldn’t whine so much.”

You need to see that website. In fact here it is. It’s called hoohabook.com.

hoohabook

He’s a bit of a writer! The word “hooha” as part of the website’s name? Intriguing!

You might want to look at an excerpt of the book he is promoting on the billboard. He has one on the website – http://hoohabook.com/excerpts-real-men-dont-use-coupons/.

I probably would not use some of these on a first date, but I am not a real man according to this man’s definition as I am a monogamist male in a relationship with a lady who is a hell of a lot smarter than I am who also happens to be the mother of our children and my best friend.

You do what you want.

It’s America. I am allowed to be that. So are you.

He says he wrote that book referred to on the billboard to raise money for what seems like a worthwhile cause. He just does it in an Andrew Dice Clay fashion maybe?

And of course, I am actually giving him advertising by writing about him. America!

But this is what caught my eye. On the “About the Author” page of hooha.com  he states,

“Author E.M. Carr is better known to friends and family as Mitch Carr and is an auto mechanic from Kensington Maryland.

His other endeavors include two music CDs where he is the songwriter and producer, and two Novels written under the pen name of Rhett Dawn Home.

Not only is he a writer. He has a pen name that he writes under.

 

Pen name of Rhett Dawn? What? And he has a web site for that name as well? That’s the website he should be advertising on the billboard here in North Carolina.

Hell yes, I went there.

rhett dawn

If you want to read some excerpts, then read the excerpts from that website. Here – http://www.rhettdawn.com/excerpts-congressmans-wife/.

Oh, hell. I’ll save you the time.

We smiled at each other and I realized my hand was now completely over hers, stroking her hair line as her hand rested against her cheek. She looked up at me and there were those eyes again. There was something in there and I wanted to know more. Here I was with a woman I had spent less than an hour with and knew nothing about, who was opening herself up to me for no reason other than I was a nice person who helped her get her car started.
It seemed crazy, but I wasn’t leaving………

“One last kiss.”
“Here?”
“Here and now!”
“Okay,” she conceded.
I walked her off the edge of the path and up against a very large oak tree. I lifted her arms above her head and kissed her deep. At nearly six feet tall, I towered over her slender figure. I held her arms up by the wrist with her arms supported by my inner elbows and suckled her tongue as she surrendered to my masculinity. I moved my hands down her arms to her cheeks and held her head in my hands as I continued for at least another minute. Her eyes were closed and she kept her arms raised above her head. Her body was resting against the tree and I hoped it was because she was weak in the knees……..

I turned for the door and in an instant the other two were up and across the room with one between me and the door, and the other close enough that he could get in a solid punch if need be. I turned back around and said nothing. I assumed he wasn’t there for confirmation, but for some sort of retribution. I had imagined what I would say if ever confronted, but I realized I was just doing that with the belief that it would never happen, because I couldn’t think of anything to do but let things play out. He looked at me and said, “What, no denial? No excuse? Not even a Sir Galahad taking the blame to protect his lover?”

Move over Cormac McCarthy. Move over Philip Roth. You are both pansies. Thank God Kurt Vonnegut is dead. He was not man enough to write prose like this.

And yes, there is even a chance to get these books on Amazon where you can read about the author Rhett Dawn. But alas…

“The author has chosen to remain mildly discreet for now, but suffice to say he is local to Montgomery County and some names were changed to protect the innocent.”

It’s like Rhett has chosen to remain aloof like the people behind the first two billboards.

One would need to read the rest of the Journal’s story to get a little more understanding of Mr. Carr’s reasoning of why he took out the advertising billboard two states away from his home.

He said he drove by the original sign, posted in February, that declared: “Real men provide. Real women appreciate it.”

It was later replaced with: “Much Ado About Nothing. A social experiment that brought forth those so immersed in their own insecurity that in the mirror they could only see an angry victim of their incorrect interpretation of a silly billboard — Bless their hearts.”

Carr said the messages inspired him.

“Real men are sort of a dying breed in this country,” he said. “I consider myself one. You know one when you see one.”

The new message is intended to start a dialogue on what it means to be a “real man,” Carr contends.

“What it means is it’s a knock on men who dropped out of the ranks just because life got easy,” Carr said while explaining the new billboard.

“Just because the war stops doesn’t mean a soldier stops training. We need more real men out there.”

And Mr. Carr’s inspiration has inspired me to list all of the things that I have learned about being a real man from the very billboard that, lo, resides so close to me.

  1. Real men use bad grammar because real men know what they really mean.
  2. Real men are inspired by real billboards.
  3. Real men provide real billboards that women can appreciate.
  4. Real men don’t use coupons that allow them to save more of the coupons that they really use.(I know. It’s confusing).
  5. Real men do social experiments.
  6. Real men make Shakespearean references that don’t make sense to people who actually studied Shakespeare but may not be real men.
  7. Real men bless people’s hearts.
  8. Real men only use coupons that have dead white guys on them so while there may be an expiration date on coupons that many people use, real men use real coupons that have expired people on them.
  9. Real men self promote on billboards books that are self-published.
  10. Real men use pen names that seem generated by a William Faulkner adult entertainment computer program.
  11. Real men are a dying breed. Everyone else lives forever.
  12. Real men talk about how they are real men to, you know, stir the pot and start a dialogue.

Mr. Carr can say anything he wants.

He can spend his 2600$ with Mr. Whiteheart for a month’s worth of space and help the local economy.

He can advertise all he wants. Hell, I have done it for him with a lot of fun and glee I might add.

But he did say “people with running water, heat, air conditioning and full bellies shouldn’t whine so much.”

Whether he believes it or not (and I could give exactly zero f***s), the same freedom that allows him to rent that billboard in a state he does not even reside in and whine about what he thinks real men should do allows me to complain and whine as much as I want about anything I want.

America!