"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Gun Violence is Just a Fact of Life, Like the Weather

I've noticed that there's not much -- or at least very little -- coverage of parents and activists who are badgering school board members about school shootings...other than demanding that teachers carry firearms.

Pro-gun rights lawmakers want to arm teachers, but there’s little evidence these programs work
The tragic mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, last week renewed calls for stricter gun control legislation, after 19 children and two teachers were killed, and 17 others were injured in the attack. But conservatives and gun lobbyists argue the only way to solve the country’s epidemic of mass shootings is to put more guns in the hands of the public. Some have even called for arming teachers and school staff with firearms of their own.

...The idea of training teachers, whose primary job is to educate students on lessons like math and English, as an extra security defense against potential school shooters is not new and such training programs have existed for years in some form in many states.

There is also little evidence to suggest arming school staff actually makes schools safer. On the contrary, school safety advocates warn about the potential risks of encouraging teachers to carry guns at school — increasing the number of guns in schools, even if they were put in the hands of responsible educators, may increase the likelihood of gun-related harm. Studies have also shown a direct correlation between the presence of guns and increased gun violence.
Hmmm..."studies have also shown"...sounds like science to me!
Click here or on the image, to see the entire Tom Tomorrow post.

Where are all the people who threatened, bullied, spouted conspiracy theories, demanded the banning (and/or burning) of books, and screamed at school board members about masks, critical race theory (CRT), and transgender rights?

MASKS DON'T WORK?

The "masks don't work" theory of COVID-19: Masks don't protect children from the COVID virus, yet somehow they do prevent O2 and CO2 from getting in and out of their lungs. This prevents breathing and will cause permanent damage.

Why aren't they going to school board meetings demanding that ways be found to reduce school shootings?

The total number of students and school staff who died from lack of oxygen or too much carbon dioxide because they wore masks = 0.

(NOTE: The numbers of deaths quoted in the paragraph above and at other locations in this post are from a quick search of the internet and may not be 100% accurate.)

See also:

Fact check: Three children have not died from wearing masks in Germany
Mask Mythbusters: Common Questions about Kids & Face Masks

CRITICAL RACE THEORY

Teaching American history apparently makes some children feel sad, angry, or upset. But isn't it appropriate to feel that way about various behaviors of the USA over it's life as a nation? Slavery? Jim Crow? Japanese-American incarcerations? Does this mean we shouldn't teach history? (NOTE: This is not a call to teach inappropriate content, or to teach content inappropriately to children based on their age and maturity. For example, we wouldn't (and shouldn't) use graphic images of violence, or descriptions of, the brutality of slavery with kindergartners.)

Should we not mention that ten of the first twelve presidents of the United States owned slaves?
Twelve U.S. presidents owned slaves at some point in their lives; of these, eight owned slaves while in office. Ten of the first twelve American presidents were slave owners, the only exceptions being John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams, neither of whom approved of slavery.
Should we not teach that the Civil War was mostly about slavery, for example, Mississippi's Articles of secession included...
Mississippi: Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth… These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.
...and Georgia's...
Georgia: That reason was [the North's] fixed purpose to limit, restrain, and finally abolish slavery in the States where it exists. The South with great unanimity declared her purpose to resist the principle of prohibition to the last extremity.
What is Critical Race Theory and Why is Everyone Talking About it?
Republican lawmakers in more than 20 states have introduced or passed legislation that would directly target the principles underlying critical race theory by banning schools from teaching about structural racism. These efforts to demonize critical race theory are gaining traction more than a year into a national reckoning with racism, following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and the ensuing protests.

Speaking at a conference held by the Faith and Freedom Coalition on June 18, former Vice President Mike Pence said that “critical race theory is racism.” Senator Ted Cruz, at the same gathering, compared the theory to the Ku Klux Klan saying the curriculum is “every bit as racist” as the white supremacist hate group. “Critical race theory,” the senator said, “says every white person is a racist.”

These campaigns are not just based on ignorance of how critical race theory developed and is now applied, but also represent an attempt to stoke a reactionary resistance, rather than a broader understanding.
(NOTE: Critical Race Theory is not "taught" in America's K-12 schools. American history, on the other hand, is.)

Total number of students and school staff who died because of learning or teaching American history = 0.

TRANS RIGHTS

Do Trans girls have an advantage when participating in girls' sports? Apparently not any more than some other girls, according to this article in Scientific American (There's that "science" again!)...

Trans Girls Belong on Girls’ Sports Teams
...It turns out that when transgender girls play on girls’ sports teams, cisgender girls can win. In fact, the vast majority of female athletes are cisgender, as are the vast majority of winners. There is no epidemic of transgender girls dominating female sports. Attempts to force transgender girls to play on the boys’ teams are unconscionable attacks on already marginalized transgender children, and they don’t address a real problem. They’re unscientific, and they would cause serious mental health damage to both cisgender and transgender youth.

Policies permitting transgender athletes to play on teams that match their gender identity are not new. The Olympics have had trans-inclusive policies since 2004, but a single openly transgender athlete has yet to even qualify. California passed a law in 2013 that allows trans youth to compete on the team that matches their gender identity; there have been no issues. U SPORTS, Canada’s equivalent to the U.S.’s National Collegiate Athletic Association, has allowed transgender athletes to compete with the team that matches their identity for the past two years.

The notion of transgender girls having an unfair advantage comes from the idea that testosterone causes physical changes such as an increase in muscle mass. But transgender girls are not the only girls with high testosterone levels. An estimated 10 percent of women have polycystic ovarian syndrome, which results in elevated testosterone levels. They are not banned from female sports. Transgender girls on puberty blockers, on the other hand, have negligible testosterone levels. Yet these state bills would force them to play with the boys...
Total number of students and school staff who died because trans children played on sports teams = 0.

(On the other hand...A record number of transgender and gender nonconforming people in the US have been killed in 2020.)

SCHOOL SHOOTINGS

Nearly all of the school shooters since (and including) the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in November 2012 have used semi-automatic weapons -- either rifles or handguns. Have any of the people who wanted to ban the book Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story by Ruby Bridges, demanded that we ban semi-automatic weapons?

Have any of the people who argued against mask mandates in schools also argued for common sense gun laws?

Isn't there the least a bit of cognitive dissonance created by arguing against masks, CRT, or trans rights, and not doing the same about school shootings?

Total number of people who have died in US school shootings since November 2012 (including children, adults, and perpetrators) = 108.

AN OVERLAP?

Is there an overlap between people who complain to school boards about masks, Critical Race Theory (CRT), and trans children in sports, and those who identify as "pro-life."

Is there an overlap between people who complain to school boards about masks, Critical Race Theory, and trans children in sports, and those who want to arm teachers?

Opinion: Why won’t pro-lifers act against our deadly gun culture?

Are the people who called teachers "groomers" now calling for states to arm those same educators?

And they want to arm the teachers . . .
But for God’s sake then what makes the Republicans who have produced this situation think it is reasonable to expect a teacher to engage in a gunfight with the same murderer that the police are afraid of confronting ?
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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

2022 Medley #1 - School Shootings, Religion, Lead, Pedophelia

School shootings, Religion in schools,
Lead poisoning our students, Attacks on teachers

Lots of stuff below, some of it is old news...forgive me, I'm still catching up.


THE GUN INDUSTRY OWNS TOO MANY POLITICIANS

More kids were killed in the latest school shooting. No surprise. The Onion posted it's repeating story just a few days after the last posting...

No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens
In the hours following a violent rampage in Texas in which a lone attacker killed at least 21 individuals and injured several others, citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Tuesday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place. “This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them..."
The argument is that criminals will get guns and use them illegally, so why pass gun-control laws. They won't work anyway.

Someone might respond, why have laws against abortion? Pregnant people will ignore the laws and find ways to get abortions anyway. The laws won't work.

Why have laws against drunk driving? Drunks will ignore the laws and drive while under the influence anyway. The laws won't work.

Already we hear calls for "good guys" to arm themselves...aka give teachers guns. Even though the latest shooter got past armed police officers.

Maybe we ought to study this phenomenon. Why does it happen so often in the USA? We should study gun violence. Nope...can't do that....
...the so-called "Dickey Amendment" effectively bars the national Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from studying firearm violence -- an epidemic the American Medical Association has since dubbed "a public health crisis."

If You Don’t Support Gun Control, You Support School Shootings
We’re told that gun control is useless because new laws will just be pieces of paper that criminals will ignore. However, by the same logic, why have any laws at all? Congress should just pack it in, the courts should close up. Criminals will do what they please.

We may never be able to stop all gun violence, but we can take steps to make it more unlikely. We can at least make it more difficult for people to die by firearm. And this doesn’t have to mean getting rid of all guns. Just regulate them.

According to the Pew Research Center, when you ask people about specific firearm regulations, the majority is in favor of most of them – both Republicans and Democrats.

We don’t want the mentally ill to be able to buy guns. We don’t want suspected terrorists to be able to purchase guns. We don’t want convicted criminals to be able to buy guns. We want mandatory background checks for private sales at gun shows.

Yet our lawmakers stand by helpless whenever these tragedies occur because they are at the mercy of their donors. The gun industry owns too many elected officials.

RELIGION IN SCHOOL

The Best Question During Today’s School Prayer Arguments Came From … Brett Kavanaugh?

Justice Kavanaugh (of all people) asks the question that underscores why church and state -- especially when it comes to public schools -- should be separated. The pressure to use religion in a coercive way is hard for certain religious groups and the pressure on students to "go with the crowd" is hard to resist.

Complete separation of church and state in America's public schools would prohibit "pray to play" pressure for student athletes. Kavanaugh is right...though we've yet to see who he sides with then the case is decided.
I guess the problem at the heart of it is you’re not going to know. The coach is probably not going to say anything like “The reason I’m starting you is that you knelt at the 50-yard line.” You’re never going to know. And that leads to the suspicions by parents—I think, I’m just playing out what the other side is saying here—the suspicion by parents that the reason Johnny’s starting and you’re not is [because] he was part of the prayer circle. I don’t think you can get around that. That’s a real thing out there. That’s going to be a real thing in situations like this. I don’t know how to deal with that, frankly.
Luckily, the Constitution already provides a way to deal with that. It’s called the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Enlarging The Already-Big Hole In the Wall

The recent leak threatening to repeal Roe v. Wade, from the US Supreme Court is proof that the decision about abortion is just one more way the High Court is breaking down the wall between church and state (and if you don't think that "separation of church and state" is one of the Founding Fathers' goals, then read this: Separation Of Church And State: The ‘So-Called’ Principle That Has Been Protecting Our Rights Since 1791).

Former Republican and current blogger, Sheila Kennedy, wrote about another case before SCOTUS. It pertains to a town in Maine where no public high schools exist. The state decided to fund private schools, including religious schools. Will the High Court allow this break in the Wall of Separation or will they force Maine to fund actual public schools as required by the state constitution?
Plaintiffs freely acknowledged that the curricula of these religious schools is divisive and discriminatory.
One of the schools at issue in the case, Temple Academy in Waterville, Maine, says it expects its teachers “to integrate biblical principles with their teaching in every subject” and teaches students “to spread the word of Christianity.” The other, Bangor Christian School, says it seeks to develop “within each student a Christian worldview and Christian philosophy of life.”

The two schools “candidly admit that they discriminate against homosexuals, individuals who are transgender and non-Christians,” Maine’s Supreme Court brief said.
Justice Elena Kagan wanted to know why taxpayers should fund “proudly discriminatory” schools. The answer, evidently, is that six judges on this Supreme Court believe that when discrimination is required by Christian theology, it is entitled to special deference.
LEARNING LOSS: STILL POISONING OUR CHILDREN

Lead Poisoning: A Known Learning Loss Threat

What? You mean there's still lead in the water our students drink? 

Can we still blame our public schools for not being able to raise test scores of children who are poisoned with lead?

Lead poisoning poses a threat to children through the water they drink from lead solder/pipes, dust exposure involving old paint in homes, and living near land contaminated by old mining and smelter plants. Here’s a more complete list of objects with lead.

Often the lead problem is ignored. After the Flint water catastrophe, Republican Governor Rick Snyder discussed reading problems. From Detroit Free Press reporter Rochelle Riley:
One of the important metrics in someone’s life on the River of Opportunity is the ability to be proficient-reading by third grade,” he [Gov. Snyder] said in January 2015. “How have we done? We were at 63% in 2010, and we are at 70% today. … But 70% doesn’t cut it.”

Snyder and his administration didn’t cut it either, apparently ignoring the reading mission the same way they ignored the Flint water crisis: Third-grade reading proficiency in Flint, where Snyder allowed the water — and children — to be poisoned by lead, dropped from 41.8% in 2014 to 10.7% last year.

That’s a nearly three-quarters drop.

TEACHERS AS PEDOPHILES

And finally, this is what we're up against. Here is a person who literally accuses all teachers of being "inclined" towards pedophelia...and the danger is even greater if one is a male teacher. Does he offer any proof that this is true? any statistical evidence that teachers sexually abuse children more than the general public? more than the Catholic Church?

It's no wonder that teachers are heading for the exits.

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Sunday, May 15, 2022

Shortsighted -- Who will be tomorrow's public school teachers?

THE NUMBER OF PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS IS DECLINING

It's no wonder teachers are leaving the profession and young people are not signing up.

It's not just the low pay, the mountains of paperwork, or the lack of time to get everything done. It's the lack of respect...the constant bashing of teachers and public schools by so-called conservatives along with their plans to privatize public education.

AN ACTUAL CONSERVATIVE BASIS FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION: The Founding Fathers, especially authors of the Declaration and Constitution, Jefferson and Madison, envisioned public schools serving everyone. Read America’s Founding Fathers Were Against School Choice. The sources for that post are here and here.


Unfortunately, too many members of the general public believe that teaching is "easy." They remember their years in school through the eyes of the children or young adults they were when they observed teachers at work. They apparently don't understand (or believe) the hours of time spent getting to the point where, to an immature outside observer, it looks easy. They think that you just stand up in front of a class, spout the information pertinent to your subject, and the students will be held spellbound by the sheer joy of learning. They think that once you present material, students will understand and retain all that information.

Today's so-called "conservatives" are apparently hesitant to give teachers respect and credit for their work. For one thing, teaching is still widely perceived as "women's work" -- glorified babysitting, and we all know how much respect that gets. It's also true that public education is a public good -- a common good -- a concept that conflicts with the attitude held by some conservatives and libertarians that individualism is most important. Education is necessary for one to make their way in society...to take care of themselves, and to keep from being a burden on society. In contrast, more liberal public school supporters -- like me -- believe that public schools are the cornerstone of democracy. A free, equitable public education, available to all citizens, is good for everyone (see links to the Founding Fathers, above).

Teachers are disrespected. We are consistently bashed in the media. We are underpaid compared to others with the same investment in education. We are treated as incompetent. We are branded as "groomers" and "predators." We are threatened and harassed.

It's no wonder that teachers are heading for the exits.

More than half of teachers are looking for the exits, a poll says?
The National Education Association poll, conducted in January, helps quantify the stress being placed on educators right now. It found that the number who say they'll leave the profession sooner has risen significantly since August. Among the NEA poll's other findings:
  • 90% of its members say that feeling burned out is a serious problem.
  • 86% say they have seen more educators leaving the profession or retiring early since the start of the pandemic.
  • 80% report that unfilled job openings have led to more work obligations for those left
Count me in as a teacher who would not recommend a teaching career to my younger self. I know that we need more good teachers. We need young people to go into teaching now more than ever, but would I recommend teaching to one of my children, grandchildren, former students, or any other young person? No. Not now. Not in the U.S.

Teacher Job Satisfaction Hits Bottom
55% [of teachers in the survey] said they were "not very" or "not at all" likely to tell their younger self to pursue teaching as a career.

OUR COMPENSATION FOR POVERTY IS INADEQUATE

We can make the teaching profession more attractive to young people by increasing our education investment...but we, as a nation, are, apparently, not interested in that. Statistically, we're 66th in the world in spending on education as a percentage of our GDP. It's true that 5% of the US GDP is much more than the 8% spent by Norway, the highest rated OECD country in the list, but we have many more students. We also have higher rates of poverty than Norway -- greater than 20% for the US versus less than 10% for Norway. And the higher the poverty rate, the more money is needed to help students reach their potential.

The United States doesn't provide enough money to compensate for our high child-poverty rate. The inequity in American school funding is baked into the system so we spend more money on our wealthy children's education than the education of our poor children. The property tax basis for school funding is partially responsible for this as is the fact that federal spending doesn't always make up for the difference in state spending. A wealthy state, like New York, for example, spends more money per student than does a poor state, like Utah. Some of the discrepancy is mitigated by local cost of living differences, but not all (see The Myth of America's Failing Public Schools).

Beyond Burnout: What Must Be Done to Tackle the Educator Shortage
For years, educators nationwide have been underpaid, undervalued, and underresourced. Now, the pandemic and everything that comes with it—physical and mental health concerns, student learning challenges, and a crushing workload— are pushing an unprecedented number of educators to reconsider their careers.

According to a recent NEA member survey, a staggering 55 percent of educators say they are thinking about leaving the profession earlier than planned.

“This is a five-alarm crisis,” says NEA President Becky Pringle. “If we’re serious about getting every child the support they need to thrive, our elected leaders across the nation need to address this crisis now.”
What people say when they hear I’m becoming a teacher

I wrote above that I would not recommend teaching to any young person, but this soon-to-be (or recent) graduate of one of Indiana's colleges rejects that recommendation. For her, the benefit society would gain from her teaching is more than the difficulty she will have as a teacher. I only hope, for her sake, that as an English teacher, she's allowed to teach and is not restrained by misguided and paranoid Critical Race Theory laws. I hope that she can earn enough to live on. I hope that she learns how to take care of herself both physically and mentally so she doesn't become cynical or "burned out." At this point, I would tell her, "good luck...and thank you."
These long, full days showed me how to do the job and reminded me of the positive impact teachers can have on their students (and vice versa). They also showed me what educators are up against (in addition to the low wages everyone talks about). I heard about the staffing shortages, the untenable workloads, school funding disparities, and controversial changes, such as efforts to restrict certain conversations about race, gender, and sexuality. I realize that I’m choosing a career that many veterans, discouraged and disheartened, are leaving.

But my love for education — and desire to make a difference — propels me forward. I want my classroom to be a welcoming space that fosters learning and relationships. As graduation approaches, I eagerly await my first professional job, my first classroom, my first classroom library, and my first day of school. So when people ask me if I’m sure I want to be a teacher, I’m more confident saying: Yes, and now more than ever.
Today's children will be tomorrow's citizens and leaders. If we want an educated citizenry...if we want to preserve our free government...then we need to be willing to pay for it. Not to do so would be shortsighted.
Indiana Constitution
Article 8. - Education.
Section 1. Knowledge and learning, generally diffused throughout a community, being essential to the preservation of a free government; it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to encourage, by all suitable means, moral, intellectual, scientific, and agricultural improvement; and to provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all.
Picture the education of our children as a "savings account." By fully funding an equitable education for all our children, we're "saving" for our nation's future where the citizens and leaders are competent and well-informed.
A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives. -- James Madison
...establish and improve the law for educating the common people. Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against these evils, and that the tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance. -- Thomas Jefferson
If Virtue & Knowledge are diffused among the People, they will never be enslav'd. This will be their great Security. -- Samuel Adams


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