Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Rungless Ladder

The foundation of meritocracy has always been the idea that if you "work hard" and play by society's rules in America you can climb the ladder to rise above one's class and station.   Sure and the rules are written in invisible ink and the rules are as flexible as a Yogini, so good luck on that climb.

But the idea of this ladder is ingrained in our history and mantra of American equality and like our infrastructure is shaky and missing a few rungs.

Living here in Nashville I have seen how who holds the ladder also affects the ability of an individual in which to climb.  I have seen intersectional issues regarding race that is to say the least conventional - black vs white - and less so - across race and among races.  Again when we all think that once people share the same race/gender/religion/ethnicity you have commonality and bond.  Uh no. Start with Ireland, that North and South conflict, Catholic vs Protestant is one example.  Look at Spain and their current Catalonian issue.  ISIS vs everyone - Shiite vs Sunni.  There are countries in Africa that are at war as they don't share one identity or culture or language.  Pakistan vs India. North and South Korea.  North and South Vietnam. The history of maps marks an ever changing landscape.    And then we have the Civil War.  It goes on in history in the past and in the present and people don't like people who they feel threaten their existence largely be that economically or for secondary reasons - such as Religion.  World War II and Hitler covered those pretty well.  Germans were not all Germans in his world.

So moving to Nashville I was not surprised about the overt racism or even the subtle type but what I found interesting was the racism that crossed racial line and was inter-racial.  There is this odd sort of poor me bullshit here that I have attributed less to racism and more about religion and the "Bless your heart" is less an endearment but more an admonishment. The pulpit affects every aspect of life here from how one communicates to how one believes others should live.  The Christian Martyr is alive and well in the South and again over 50% of the population identify with Evangelical faith so the majority is not afraid to assert its influence. But then again in a State where only 30% of the population votes and is educated there is something not right about that equation. Are the same 30% voting in this idiot Haslam and his kind as that runs contrary to the conceptions and belief about education.  Or in turn are the few that do vote - elderly, white, religious - voting and in enough numbers that the minority is ruling the majority?  I believe it is the latter and the "educated" folks that do define that classification are largely educated in private and in turn non-secular schools.  So the kids who attend say Father Ryan are from well to do families, their life plan secure, the classes are small the focus is on God regardless and so they don't have to push their academic focus all that hard. They are really stupid for being rich but again that is not surprising.. see the Trump family for example.  It might be a contest who thinks they are the smartest in the room during those family gatherings.

My point is that you can have all the pedigree, the degrees handed to you from the right schools and know the right people but that does not make you intelligent, hard working, a good person or any of the other attributes assigned to those in the upper 1%.  And the other 99% percent are not exempt from said rules in fact they are applied more stringently in fact.  And that explains the divisions in the country at present where only 30%, one-third, one out of three people for mathematically disinclined to understand how we are under a rule when it is unclear or confusing to the remaining 70%.  Welcome to Tennessee.

Haslam is classic case, lying while talking.  He "trumped" Tennessee's achievement in Education but when bloggers are catching his lies and Journalists are not this is where fake news makes sense.  The State of Tennessee has not made great gains in overall rise in education, in fact they have either declined or remained stagnant.

I looked at Ed Week, Quality Control comparison ranking to see just where we are with regards to the State and its "success" in education.  Compare the  2011 to the 2018 rankings.  In the former Tennessee received a grade of 77 and today we are at 70.8. We’ve gone from a solid C and closing in on a B to a C- nearing a D. Back in 2011, Tennessee was ranked 23rd in the nation in education climate. Today, we’re ranked 37th.

Tennessee has risen in K-12 achievement, we’ve moved from a 66.3 to a 72. But the larger picture shows that the gains are slight. And for all that funding Haslam spoke of Tennessee is still holding on to that D grade in school funding.

The Washington Post did a great article with regards to school funding as it relates to our infrastructure.   I agree but there are real problems here in Tennessee and specifically Nashville getting and retaining great teachers.  The city is the lowest paid in the region, the district relies on Teach for America and other fellowships to provide poorly trained and prepared Teachers and frankly I am not sure what the Teacher programs are like at the Big Three here - Belmont, Lipscomb and Vanderbilt.   And given the Graduates and Student Teachers I have met I don't see the best and the brightest.

Yesterday at one of the many "cusp" aka "failing" schools I ran into a former Barista who is now at the end of his student teaching portion and graduating into work part of his training.  His school is Lipscomb and they administer the Teach for America program which costs the trainees little to nothing while the conventional students are paying serious cash for a longer more extensive training program.   He was placed in a classroom with a Teacher who in fact had been a TOA grad about 4 or 5 years ago and has been in this school for three years.  This Teacher has no training nor degree in History is teaching an 8th grade class of largely English language learners in a school that now has a new Principal with no experience in the Nashville Public Schools.   This same Admin offered me a long term sub gig and I ended up with the flu and had to pass.  Some things are a "blessing."

I walked in and was happy to see him and then class began.  It was one class nightmare after another and he was clueless how to manage let alone plan lessons that would work for these kids.  The lessons left were utterly idiotic and inappropriate.  My favorite was they were to write a letter to Secretary of Treasury Steve Munchin as to why they should not put Andrew Jackson on the $20 dollar bill.  Where do I begin to say  what crap!  These kids I doubt understand the role of the Cabinet Secretary, who Steve Munchin is let alone pronounce his name correctly, and who Andrew Jackson is with regards to Tennessee or history.   I offered my best suggestions but I was wondering why his School had not provided him with said tools, that his Advisor had not assisted him to when he would be given the class and why in fact he was even doing this as he seemed utterly oblivious to the state of the schools in Nashville and the dynamics involved.  I had told him about the book Making the Unequal Metropolis quite awhile ago and he has a memory like a sieve, is a nice person but clearly out of his depth.  But I am sure he is indebted to his eyeballs with his program and walking into a City and a State that has the lowest salary's in the Nation for Teachers.   Ah its right to work here and irony that all the States above Tennessee are those that have active union organization and few charters.

We want a population of ignorance. We want to retain the status quo. For if we had an educated workforce they would ask questions, demand appropriate wages, expect progress and change. We cannot have that.  We need little to change, change is bad, we fear that. I live in Nashville I see that first hand.  The South shall rise again. Gosh what is that a threat or a promise?  






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