Monday, May 31, 2010

WHY EDUCATORS "DON'T GET NO RESPECT"

by Beverly K. Eakman
Friday, 28 May 2010 16:35
Despite efforts in some states to counter the now-admitted failures of education policy at the state and federal levels, overall it has been a daunting, brutal and thankless task.
Ting-Yi Oei, a Northern Virginia high school teacher/administrator who dared to try to maintain discipline (and decency) among students at Freedom High in Loudoun County, Maryland, (“My Students. My Cellphone. My Ordeal,” The Washington Post), found himself defending his principles in court, with no real support from either of the teachers unions while simultaneously being in the throes of an emergency at home, his wife having been diagnosed with a cancerous tumor. (Now there’s “compassion” for you!)
A related commentary, “Texting vs. Teaching: Who Wins,” by Jay Mathews, took on the pervasive problem of “high schools [that] are full of secretly texting, blithely unengaged adolescents….”
Ting-Yi Oei, the author of the first piece, says he still struggles, even after the charges against him were thrown out of court, to understand how his “actions could have been so badly misconstrued” in the “sexting” case at Freedom High School. His life was “turned upside down,” his otherwise stellar career and reputation was left in tatters, and all for “trying to negotiate the slippery terrain where rapidly advancing technology intersects with risky adolescent behavior,” in this case, for trying to stop his students at Freedom High in Loudoun, County, Maryland, from “sexting” nude pictures of themselves.
His article in the Post sounded the first warning for educators so bold as to attempt enforcement of moral discipline. Bad ideas morph: An even worse instance of sexting occurred this year in another nearby Maryland county as well as a case litigated in Mississippi involving a lesbian who tried to take her lover to the senior prom.
The dilemmas cited by Ting-Yi Oei and Matthews are easily explained: They happen (a) when schools focus more on non-academic issues (a.k.a. “the affective domain”) than cognitive learning; (b) when the authority of children supersedes that of adults for years on end; (c) when youngsters come to school dressed like hookers, pimps and bums from the earliest grades; (d) when adults, including those with masters’ and doctorate degrees in computer technologies, are not permitted to transmit their values to youngsters, unless such values are counterculture, perverted, anti-Christian or pre-approved by psychiatrists; and (e) when social workers, with ambulance-chasing attorneys at the ready, are calling the shots, but academics and scholars are deemed irrelevant.
Mr. Matthews observed, accurately as far as it goes, when he learned that school officials had proposed allowing “students to text during lunch, despite previously attempted cell-phone bans,” that “[e]ducators can’t keep up with the latest technocrazes.” Mathews further complained:
No one … asks my question: What do good teachers do about this? The best classes, in my experience, are the ones in which the teacher is holding a conversation with the entire class. Nobody is allowed to sit in a corner and dream about the prom, or text their dress choices to friends. The teacher has her eyes on the entire class, and is calling on everybody. If you are not paying attention, you are going to get caught. If the instructor is particularly good, the frequent texter decides what the class is doing is more interesting than sending another message.
But since such classes are relatively rare... bored [students]…tune out and send messages.
The problem none of the above writers “get” is that teachers aren’t in the classroom to entertain, but to transmit knowledge. Unfortunately, such notions started going out the window in the late 1970s, and for good in 1981, when Archie LaPointe and Willard Wirtz wrote their seminal work, “Measuring the Quality of Education,” for the U.S, Department of Education’s National Institute of Education. That was when the concept of excellence and focus on knowledge was replaced with two different objectives: “functional literacy” (otherwise known as “getting by”) and “keeping kids in school” (otherwise known as babysitting and keeping children off the streets during work-hours, which equates to social work and policing).
Cell phones, texting and even “sexting” are not the core problems.
The trouble is that school time is still taken up with politically motivated, special-interest malarkey — junk science; flawed campaigns against drugs, smoking, AIDS, pregnancy, and violence; disruptive, divisive social engineering and “diversity” experiments; age-inappropriate and privacy-invading surveys masquerading as academics; “revised” — even treasonous — history; counterproductive fads like “conflict resolution”; and pro-promiscuity, pro-homosexual rubbish. All this will take years to get out of the system even if every school started today.
The trouble is that time-tested, as well as newer, successful methodologies, continue to be scuttled in favor of failed teaching fads in key subjects like reading and math — the very subjects every President claims national and state assessments are centered on.
The trouble is the individual is still denigrated in favor of a “team,” or group approach, resulting in group-think and consensus being valued over principle and over individual effort. This subtly undermines the founding principles of this country — adversely affecting the continuance of the Republic.
The trouble is teacher preparation at the university level is inadequate and the chaotic K-12 school environment is not conducive to concentration. Attention Deficit “disorder” resides in the classroom, not in the kids!
The trouble is good parents are treated like dummies. The trouble is lack of discipline and structure (not lack of metal detectors). The trouble is students being pressured to spend all day primping and jockeying for social position. The trouble is that really good teachers are frustrated, their time being taken up with nonsense and paperwork.
The trouble is that bright youngsters, who somehow manage to learn in spite of the system, are either skimmed off the top, or shuttled off to mentor lagging students, causing average and slower pupils to view intelligence and excellence as “uncool” and creating a vicious cycle of more special education and legal drugs as remedies.
The trouble is, the red tape for private schooling is so onerous that it’s prohibitively expensive to start one, leaving only wealthy conglomerates to take up the slack. Vouchers may be better than nothing, but in many parts of the U.S. there are few, or no, private schools.
The trouble is goofball ideas like the one during the Bush Administration hawking a pro-marriage initiative. It targets funds to unwed parents to encourage marriage once a baby’s on the way. Three hundred million a year was earmarked for that one, and its 2010 sequel just got a boost in Minnesota:
Or how about this taxpayer-funded gem, the “Great Sex Workshop”: It got a 5-year, $5.5 million budget in 2004: “Get ready for some fun interactive intimacy games to help you keep sex safe and hot! Then share your techniques for finding Mr. Right…,” the advertisement went. Then, when state officials in Arizona complained that an 8th-grade state math test was too difficult, policymakers worked to make it easier the next year.
Moreover, the trouble is that domestic and social policies —nearly all of them — are geared to the irresponsible and neglectful element of society, instead of to the upstanding, decent backbone of the nation.
No wonder parents opt out of the system, and educators “don’t get no respect.”

Beverly K. Eakman began her career as a teacher in 1968. She left to become a technical writer for a NASA contractor. She was a former speechwriter for the Voice of America and for the late Chief Justice Warren E. Burger when he chaired the Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution. She served as a writer for the U.S. Dept. of Justice before retiring from the federal government. She is the author of four books on education policy, mental-health issues and data-trafficking, with dozens of feature articles to her credit.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

IN MEMORIAM

By Michael Connelly

As another Memorial Day approaches many Americans look on it as just another day off of work or school when they can sit around and barbecue hamburgers and drink soft drinks and beer. Yet, to those of us who are veterans know the true meaning of the holiday. Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and was established in 1868 to honor the memory of members of the American military who have died defending the United States of America. Its first official observance was on May 30, 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of soldiers, both Union and Confederate who died in the Civil War. It was later expanded to include all of the Americans who died in the wars fought by this country to preserve our freedom and it became an official Federal Holiday in 1971.
On this 2010 Memorial Day I want everyone to look at some staggering figures about our American heroes. Beginning with the American Revolution, a total of 43,362,376 men and women have served in the U.S Military during all of the wars we have fought including the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of these, 655,231 were killed in battle while another 540,254 have died during their service due to other causes. That is a total of 1,195,485 Americans who have died in wartime while wearing the uniform of our country. In addition, 1,468,196 have been wounded. There are currently approximately 24,000,000 military veterans still alive in our nation.
So who were these people, who as someone pointed out, wrote a blank check to their country laying their lives on the line for poor pay and often deplorable living conditions. They were and still are, our fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, and friends and neighbors. They fought and they died at places that the history books often mention in passing, it they are mentioned at all. Places like Saratoga and Yorktown where our freedom was secured, and battlefields like Gettysburg and Fredericksburg, where many brave Americans died fighting each other. Then there are the battlefields of World War I like Belleau Wood where U.S. Marines fought valiantly and suffered heavy casualties to stop the German advance, and the fights during World War II on the beaches of Normandy and Iwo Jima that opened the door for American victories in Europe and the Pacific.
Turn next to the Vietnam War where over 55,000 Americans died yet never lost a battle. However, though the actions of the politicians in Washington D.C. the war itself was ultimately lost and the history books blame it on the military. Yet, it was the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen who fought that war were often ignored or even spat upon when they returned home. It was not until recently that their contribution to the freedom of our nation was acknowledged. To them, I can only say “Welcome Home.” Well done my brothers and sisters in arms.
Since then our valiant heroes have fought and died in Grenada, Panama, Operation Desert Storm and the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, liberal politicians and members of the left wing news media continue to attack them for doing the job of defending freedom. Our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq are subjected to Rules of Engagement by the current administration that severely limits their ability to protect themselves and our way of life. This is being done under the banner of “political correctness.”
There is no such thing as a “politically correct” war. When the lives of Americans are threatened and our very existence hangs in the balance there is only one way to fight, and that is to win. Our men and women in our military know this, and despite the restrictions imposed upon them by politicians who have never served in the military and know nothing about the sacrifices required, our troops continue to do their duty to us and our nation. On this Memorial Day we must honor them and all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. They were and are the best of us. If we allow them to be forgotten then we inevitably lose our own identity as a free people and “the government of the people, by the people, for the people,” will indeed “perish from the earth.”
I will ask this of each person who reads this. Enjoy your memorial Day, but make a special effort to contact someone, whether a family member, a friend, or even a stranger, who you know has served in the military or is currently serving. Just tell them “Thank you for your service to our country”. You have no idea how much that will mean to them. Also take a moment to honor those we have lost, either by visiting the grave of a veteran, or just saying a brief prayer. They will hear you and they will know that their sacrifices were not made in vain.
Michael Connelly
U.S. Army Veteran
mrobertc@hotmail.com
www.michaelconnelly.viviti.com

Saturday, May 22, 2010

HERE A CHICK, THERE A CHICK, EVERYWHERE A CHICK, CHICK

By Michael R. Shannon
Tuesday was a time of feverish activity for the Economic Development Authority in Fairfax County, just North of where I live. As soon as the leadership saw the front page of the newspaper featuring a drive to bring chickens back to Prince William County, the fax machines in the Government Center were put on full alert.
Every business thinking of locating in Northern Virginia would soon know of PWC's rekindled passion for poultry.
Don't you know there's nothing like a few chicken feathers blowing through the background of a TV interview with our county officials to attract the urban sophisticate to your neck of the woods?
Residents of my county are already viewed by Beltway elitists as an inbred bunch of rednecks whose main activity is keeping the Mexican down. "Chicken rights" is just another example of those dumb clucks acting up.
Our own economic development department is probably trying to down themselves in the Potomac - assuming it would not upset the ecology or create too much traffic.
According to the paper the "pro-chicken movement" has grown to 23 residents - which is still smaller than the average lunchtime crowd at The Colonel's. What's more, I take exception to their appropriation of the "pro-chicken" descriptor. The day before I wrote this I ate part of a chicken for lunch. Surely you can't be any more pro-chicken than that.
The "chicken rights" supporters are squawking because you can't keep poultry on lots as large as 100 acres, if that lot is located in an area designated as residential.
But as usual with activists there is always the hidden bait-and-switch. What they want the Planning Commission to do is indulge their boutique farming fantasy by allowing chickens on a lot as small as ONE ACRE.
Let me put this in terms with which we rednecks can relate. An American football field, the home of manly men, is 1.3 acres. Just as a thought experiment, let's say a rooster perched on the 40-yard line and cut loose with a greeting to the sun at about 5:30 AM. Do you think you could hear him in your bedroom on the goal line?
I've got news for you: you can.
Back in the 80's, when I lived in Dallas, TX, my neighborhood was located in the middle of the city. In fact, my duplex had been built in 1930, so it wasn't as if homesteaders were still bustin' sod.
On my block we had quite a few illegals doing the work American's wouldn't do and evidently they were also doing the animal husbandry that Americans wouldn't do, because I lost count of the number of times I was awakened by a rooster crowing in old East Dallas.
And there was the time I thought a small child was being skinned alive as I raced down the street only to discover it was goat-killing day at the hacienda. (We won't dwell on that because currently there is no pro-goat movement in PWC.)
Of course our pro-chicken activists are extremely nuanced in their desire to alter zoning codes. One-acre lots can keep chickens. Two or more acre lots can have ducks, turkey, geese, roosters, elephants, lions, tigers and the rest of the circus.
There is an upside according to the chicken wranglers. Your lack of sleep will be more than offset by their access to "farmfresh eggs, there's nothing like it."
After reading the quotes from one of the chicken herders, I'm a little worried about his mental wellbeing. He claims "chickens make great pets."
I've spent time around chickens and I can tell you from personal experience that dogs make great pets, cats can make great pets, but chickens do not make great pets. Chickens make great dinners.
You can't teach a chicken to fetch. It won't roll over. And a chicken won't wait patiently by the door for you to get back from work.
But in all fairness I will say chickens can be trained to be great tic-tac-toe players. My wife, Janet was once beaten at tic-tac-toe by a chicken competing in the I.Q. Zoo, but I will let her tell that story.
If residential chicken herding is approved it will add just that hint of The Real McCoys to really spice up our reputation. Assuming approval doesn't queer any remaining slim chance we have to keep our minor league baseball team, the P-Nats, the new team mascot can only be Foghorn Leghorn. And it goes without saying the new stadium will be called "The Coop."
But you can kiss any chance we had for a Morton's Steakhouse goodbye. It's going to be Hooters for as far as the eye can see.
Michael R. Shannon is a public relations and advertising consultant with corporate, government and political experience around the globe. He's a dynamic and entertaining keynote speaker and can be reached at michael-shannon@comcast.net.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

DEFENDING THE FIRST AMENDMENT

bY Michael Connelly
Personal website and Blog http://michaelconnelly.viviti.com/
Author of "The Mortarmen" a book about my father's unit in WWII; "Riders in the Sky: The Ghosts and Legends of Philmont Scout Ranch" ; and my just released novel "Amayehli: A Story of America".
I also teach law courses via the Internet through colleges and universities worldwide. To find a college or university near you, go to Education To Go's website at www.ed2go.com.
New: Check out my radio talk show every week called "Our Constitution" at this link: http://www.radiosandysprings.com/showpages/OurConstitution.php

Sunday, May 16, 2010

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL

By Michael R. Shannon
In the old terminal 'A' at Washington's National Airport the Underwear Police (TSA) installed the latest, greatest detecting machinery a few years ago. This Sherlock Holmes of the snooping was the "puffer." (I'm assuming it was installed in DC instead of LA because out there people would have assumed a "puffer" was either blowing marijuana or spray paint fumes in your face.)
In theory it blew rapid-fire puffs of air all over your body and dislodged any fertilizer fragments, C-4 chips or shell casings a would-be bomber might have adhering to his dishdasha. I had a sneaking suspicion the device would have been popular with dogs, since it gave you that head-hanging-out-the-window feeling.
The "puffer" was at the end of the "elite" security line that was limited to frequent flyers, Congressmen, Senators, Supreme Court Justices, pilots, flight attendants, diplomats, gate agents, ramp personnel and cab drivers who speak English.
[As a side note, I've never understood the populist outrage at frequent flyers getting a shorter security line. Any successful business gives big customers better perks than they give occasional customers. For example, big spenders get to use the skybox at Redskins Stadium, the occasional customers get to listen to Vinny Cerrato on the radio.
Even with the shorter line the frequent flyer still spends a greater portion of this life in security lines because he's at the airport more often.]
The "puffer's" heyday was back when the Underwear Police claimed that removing your shoes at the airport was "optional." I used to take them at their word. And a form of peaceful, non-violent protest at government idiocy -the security "experts" didn't start requiring this until months after the shoe bomber failed to meet his virgins - I would refuse to remove my shoes. The guard would direct me to the secondary screening line away from the "puffer" where I could sit as he waved a wand around my feet.
My hope was wand radiation would kill my toenail fungus and save me a trip to the laser, but it never happened. But while the rest of the sheep were hopping around in their stocking feet, I had a seated encounter with Leviathan that took a little longer, but was much more dignified.
Now it seems the "puffer" wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Evidently the modern-day equivalent of a bellows wasn't the terrorist nemesis the lobbyists said it was.
So now we have the full-body scanner, which is composed of thousands of tiny cell phones (why did you think it costs so much?) that bathe your body in radiation that produces a picture that is pretty much you in your birthday suit.
Women and ACLU lawyers in particular find this alarming.
Even though the image resembles a sonogram in quality and it obscures your privates and face, they fear the TSA attendants will fail to renew their subscription to Playboy since the scanner photos will now fill their every prurient need.
As a result we are now getting reports that travelers who decline to be microwaved, are complaining they are singled out for "harassment."
In their fantasy land if you tell the Underwear Policeman that you are a regular reader of the Huffington Post don't want to have your privates scanned, he says, "I know exactly how you feel, go ahead and board your aircraft."
In reality land you will be directed to another line where a highly-trained government employee will rub his hands all over your body while moaning softly to himself.
Well, maybe not moaning, but he will touch areas that high school students only dream of encountering on a first date. This is called a frisk or search and it's the alternative to the scanner.
Of course comes as big news to DC-area residents. Somehow it's a surprise that one way or another either radiation or fingeration is going to explore your corpus delicti.
There is no opt-out for government groping.
I suppose in an age of Cafeteria Catholics, Boutique Baptists and do-it-yourself Episcopalians it's only natural that citizens think they can pick and choose their way through life.
But Big Government is a package and when you opt in you get the whole megilliah. One way or another, Uncle Sam is going to have his way with you before you board that plane.
Currently at National not everyone has to enter the microwave and I have not been selected as yet. (Although after this column runs, those days may be over.) But when it happens, I plan to submit cheerfully and when it's over ask the TSA minion if my prostate is looking any better.

IT'S TOUGH BEING ENLIGHTENED

By Michael R. Shannon
We haven't been swapping senior living tips lately, but something tells me Prince William County, VA Jefe de la Policía Charlie Deane won't be moving to Arizona when he retires. I doubt he'll even consider a vacation there, considering what's been happening on the illegal immigration front.
But I tell you, I could have sworn I saw him carrying a sign in one of the marches protesting Arizona's new law that requires law enforcement there to detain illegals rather than harbor them.
And did you notice how most, if not all, of the protest marches were held in "sanctuary" cities where the police are not allowed to enforce immigration law? I don't think it was a coincidence.
Of course time really flies when you are harassing Mexicans. It was only three years ago that Prince William County (PWC) passed our first response to the illegal alien invasion, which at the time was characterized as revival of the Nazi racial laws, but it turns out is weaker than Arizona's law.
Once the PWC law was passed the racial grievance mongers - or more accurately tribal, since a common language doesn't constitute a racial group; in spite of what ignorant liberals would have you believe - have been dancing a complicated two-step. First the law is an unconstitutional infringement on the rights of foreigners to break our laws; and two, it won't work anyway.
So it's no surprise the University of Virginia is releasing results of a preliminary study of the law that "prove" the effects of the law are small potatoes and have no bearing on the drop in violent crime in PWC since only 2.2 percent of the arrestees caught in our draconian dragnet were illegal.
Que Dios nos ayude!
There is less here than meets the eye since there are some peculiarities to enforcement of our law that may not be found in Arizona. For example: our líder sin miedo, Jefe Deane had no intention of enforcing the ordinance if he could avoid it. The fact a majority of the board passed the ordinance and he works for the board and the citizens they represent had no bearing on the matter for the Detrick Bonhoeffer of Prince William County.
Unfortunately the election he had hoped would defeat members of the Board of Supervisors who supported the bill turned out to re-elect them quite handily. Pesky, unreliable voters!
So it was off to Plan B. Deane announced, "We made it very clear . . . that we were going to focus on individuals who had committed crimes, and that we were going to protect crime victims and witnesses regardless of their status, and we were not going to do racial profiling, roadblocks, sweeps or employment investigations."
No wonder Deane only catches 2.2 percent. When the chief actively discourages enforcement it really puts a damper on the enthusiasm of patrol officers who want to enforce the law, but also want to stay on the good side of the command staff.
Not doing ANY employment investigations is like refusing to visit pawnshops in pursuit of burglars because it interferes with the free market.
Personally, I feel kinda sorry for the illegal felons who actually fled the county when the ordinance was first passed because they assumed - wrongly as it turned out - that police would be making life much harder for them.
In spite of the fact we had law enforcement handling foreign lawbreakers with kid gloves, there were still complaints about the "climate of fear" in some PWC neighborhoods - not to be confused with the "climate of hate" produced by the TEA Party that also jockeys for mainstream media time.
But isn't that the idea? If a neighborhood is full of lawbreakers isn't it a good thing for them to be apprehensive?
It's also pretty obvious that Deane has a fairly low opinion of the character of his own officers, since he is evidently fearful that without his constant nagging and oversight they would use the ordinance to institute a reign of terror in some county neighborhoods.
And speaking of Nazis, what does this Arizona law actually do?
It forbids sanctimony by banning "sanctuary cities;" increases penalties for conspiracy by cracking down on illegal laborers and their employers; permits arrests of immigrants found without their documents (something already required by federal law) and penalizes those who knowing transport or harbor illegals - which is sending tremors through the NGO community and their bus drivers who routinely haul illegals to demonstrations throughout the country.
Sounds like a great law to me and one the Commonwealth should adopt. It's a certainty that if Virginia followed Arizona's lead, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli would be much more apt to follow the will of the General Assembly than our own Charlie Deane.
Michael R. Shannon is a public relations and advertising consultant with corporate, government and political experience around the globe. He's a dynamic and entertaining keynote speaker and can be reached at michael-shannon@comcast.net.

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