Friday, February 14, 2014


As the week ends I spend a great deal of time wondering if America is the most fucked up county on the Planet. Then I read the articles about Syria, the Sudan, Egypt, Turkey, Venezuela and go, "nope we are just one of many in a sea of unrest."

Perhaps what bothers me is the arrogance and the supercilious nature that accompanies the false braggadocio that accompanies the speech making and pontificating that marks our lather rinse repeat cycle of news and information. I still read my papers, both in print and online. I have Harper's in my purse and Vanity Fair on my desk. I read. I read a lot.

Today a Student Teacher who I have sat in on subbing for her regular teacher, said today, "you read newspapers a lot I don't have time." I recall a former Principal saying when I read a newspaper to a class, "we don't do that here." And another Principal who said you are reading racist materials to students I am told; I then showed him the New York Times and the editorial from whom it was written - Bob Herbert former columnist with the Times - and the article was about education and minorities, and one other thing, Bob Herbert is black. Add that to the former teacher who told me two weeks ago, "to not believe everything you read." Only later to have that very thing I had read later announced over the intercom. WHOOPS!

Now two things come from this: Yes people are busy and reading a newspaper could be seen as a "luxury" but I think it is one that in which needs to be found and in turn done. The other is that Principals/Administrators of urban schools are sending a message to students that reading newspapers are not useful or they are not able to what understand them? What is more disturbing is their distaste for them.

The one Administrator who promptly noted the editorial, yanked it from my hand and took it to read to the Parent whom was complaining. He never apologized nor explained. This was also in a school that had its own interesting dynamic and situation ongoing at the time, the other Administrator left for the KIPP Charter schools where I am sure she is not letting students read the paper. Irony is she is the Nations capital KIPP Academies.

As for the Student Teacher. She is one of many this year who are so arrogant and supercilious I quit even trying to be polite or offer any insight into what 20 years of teaching and more imporantly substituting, has wrought. She was appalled that I had told another student teacher that having a seating chart was the first, easiest and most essential rule of classroom management. Yes actually offering advice from one experienced to one not is apparently an overreach to this young woman. The millennial generation is the ME ME MINE generation in every sense of the word.

And while I might also be quite arrogant and snobbish, I actually do care, about the children. I quit caring about the bullshit in the third largest industrial complex in America, Education, a long time ago.

I read the editorial (reprinted below) on Sunday and thought he made salient points. And then I watched Bill Moyers and his guest, David Simon of the Wire and Treme on discussing the absolute collapse of our American social forms, democracy and all that the Constitution wavers seem to be so proud of waving about but not adhering to. He compared it to a horror show. There is little I disagree with him on that point.

We are a nasty group. Troll Twitter, Facebook and the comments on any journal or blog. They seem almost acclaimed in the sense that the more vitriolic you are the more erudite and intelligent you are. Yes it takes quite the bravado to write crap on a message board, anonymously.

I keep wondering if I should just pack and go and where to? Or should I stay and fight for what I believe is right. It is not that complex or absurd - equality and parity - from that comes compassion and empathy and in turn respect. We do not all have to get along or even like each other we simply need to learn to respect and tolerate each other for our differences.

As my favorite Ali G says - RESPECT or maybe that was Aretha Franklin too.

What Is America All About?

FEB. 11, 2014

CALL me obtuse, but I was surprised when President Obama, running for re-election two summers ago, declared that Costco is “representative of what America is all about.” It is? More than the Marshall Plan or the Bill of Rights? Or Walmart?

Well, now things are confusing because Costco also got a shout-out in the State of the Union address as a shining discount-warehouse on the hill — but the meaning-of-America encomium was now conferred on the rewards of capitalism: “Americans understand that some people will earn more money than others, and we don’t resent those who, by virtue of their efforts, achieve incredible success. That’s what America’s all about.”

Well, why not? Horatio Alger. The American dream

The president wasn’t saying something that hadn’t been said before. The trouble is, he keeps changing his story

Just two days later, in Nashville, Mr. Obama was anointing, as our defining quality, not the big payday but educational opportunity: “Now, giving every student that chance — that’s our goal. That’s what America is all about

Really? Two weeks earlier, in Raleigh, N.C., the president had offered a different formulation for American-ness: R & D.

What America is all about,” he declared. “We have always been about research, innovation, and then commercializing that research and innovation so that everybody can benefit

Talk about “about face.” Any day now, he will say America is all about nougat.

On sundry occasions, the president has cited quality manufacturing, military service, freedom from discrimination, community service and succeeding from humble beginnings as the unique characteristic that explains our nation. Goodness gracious, Hamlet dithered less

But I’m not blaming Mr. Obama for a podium reflex. That’s not what I’m about

When it comes to turning every issue into a matter of fundamental Americanism, the Definer in Chief has no monopoly on glib reductions of the national essence. A swift survey finds that “what America is all about” is also: ignoring educated elites (Thomas Sowell); Condoleezza Rice’s career (John McCain); exceptionalism (Fred Thompson); amoral ambition (William Gaddis); community service (Penny Pritzker); and gun ownership (The American Spectator).

The exercise seems to be something of a Rorschach test, telling us more about the American than America itself. Take Terry Thompson, a man quoted last December by Bloomberg News, who believes the Detroit autoworker is what America is all about. Mr. Thompson is a Detroit autoworker

The impulse for reductiveness is like one of those stick-on closet lights: seldom very illuminating. Obviously, America is about many things: political freedom, economic opportunity, the melting pot, cat videos, the cult of celebrity, the cult of the military, franchised inauthentic ethnic cuisine, “super PACs” and 89 brands of riding mower. But none of them singularly defines the American way

The question really is, what is America all about that is truly distinctive? Helping others less fortunate is a genuinely American impulse, but it ranks high in Norway, too. Likewise, the notion of exceptionalism: We may deem the American way, in peace and war, to be a cut above, but a similar sense of self-regard runs pretty high in Serbia, I hear. And let us not even discuss French chauvinism, the finest in the world

To divine our one true essence, should we not settle on a list of defining institutions both transcendent and rare? I humbly propose the following: the Constitution, Nasdaq ... and Costco.

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