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Showing posts from June, 2023

Move over, Hester: Speaker Mikey's in town...

Remember Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Puritan society in his novel, The Scarlet Letter?  Poor Hester Prynne violated the laws of the church, which meant that she broke society’s laws, too.  At the beginning of the novel, the reader joins Hester as she leaves the safety of the town prison and makes her way back into the society that jailed her.  Reading the book for the first time in the 11th grade, I had a hard time understanding how, in a free society, the religion of one group could also form its judicial system.  That makes the laws of God the same thing as the laws of man.   Separation of church and state was also an 11th grade U.S. history lesson, so we students figured no more Hesters could be jailed for breaking the laws of her religion .  Or so we thought.  We fought a war 250 years ago to separate the colonies from a king who was not only ruler of the government but leader of the church.  A quick walk through British history shows what a mess that ideal leads to:  remember Henry VIII

Reflections on Juneteenth

We all know the definition of slavery: defines it as the condition of being enslaved, held, or owned as human chattel or property. The 13th amendment to our constitution ended the practice in America in 1865. But the fourth definition of slavery on defines the practice as “severe toil; drudgery.” It’s that definition that we still stumble over as a nation. The drudgery of having to tell black children how to behave in certain situations. Toiling to explain why some skin colors open doors that others do not. The hard work of living in a country where some still don’t know that the civil war is over and the 13th Amendment exists.  Ask Keenan Anderson who died after being tased by police in Los Angeles in 2023 or Henry Truman, who was shot to death by a policeman in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1870.  Ask why only 59 of the current 535 voting members of  the U. S. Congress is black.  Ask why only 10.7% of the 681 companies in a study by Crist|Kolder Associ

Jane, One Year Later

 It’s been a year.   Maybe you didn’t notice because you’ve been busy with life:  getting your kids to school, going to work, paying your bills.   But it’s been a year since Dobbs, and we need to resurrect Jane for a second  and look at the impact this decision has had on millions of Americans.   By now, you’ve read about the Texas lawsuit, with the number of women suing the state growing every day.  And you’ve read about mothers in Florida, Louisiana, and Ohio who have been forced to carry dead fetuses and risk sepsis because the abortion laws in their states are vague, and penalties for breaking them are onerous. These stories about unintended consequences for pregnant women are legion.   But there’s other fallout from the misguided decision.  According to the Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 68% of OB/GYNs say that the Dobbs decision has worsened their ability to deal with pregnancy-related emergencies.  Sixty four percent believe that the judgment has increased pregnancy-related m

Baseballs, Eight-Year-Olds, And Retribution

 “Starting today, I will hold all Department of Justice nominations. If [Attorney General] Merrick Garland wants to use these officials to harass Joe Biden’s political opponents, we will grind his department to a halt,” J.D Vance declared.  And, in the typical posture of a disgruntled eight-year-old who declares, “I’m going to take my baseball and go home” to stop the game, Senator Vance decided to shut down judicial appointments from this point on.  He’s not the only eight-year-old in the party. "It is unconscionable for a President to indict the leading candidate opposing him," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said.  Really, Kevin, even if he’s guilty of jeopardizing American security, something you used to take an interest in? Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona tweeted: "We have now reached a war phase. Eye for an eye.” Working at optimum strength, justice is blind so your “eye for an eye” is a little too late. “If he wants to store material in a box in a bath

Targeted by a Politically Motivated Governor

 “Parents in Virginia know firsthand what it’s like to be targeted by politically motivated actions,” said Glenn Youngkin.  This was his answer to charges brought against Trump for handing out sensitive information at Mar-a-Lago like pancakes at a breakfast buffet.  Well, if they didn’t know before you became the governor, Glenn, you bet they do now.  After all, thousands of voters were hoodwinked by your campaign promise to give parents power they already had. Like those mommies in Loudoun County that you politically targeted to get elected, using faulty information and downright lies to scare parents into believing they had no power over their children’s education.  Anybody who’s set foot in a public school in the past several generations knew this was false. Yup- we know firsthand, all right.  We all wondered how long it would take for this pseudo leader of the downtrodden to hone in on Trump’s legal woes, and the answer is about 24 hours.  And just like all the other Republicans wh

Governors, Do Your Job So Teachers Can Do Theirs

 As a classroom English teacher, I remember times that students experienced earth-shattering realizations through classic literature.  It was sometimes painful and controversial, but always eye-opening.  Like when they realized that Jim was the real hero of the novel, not Huckleberry Finn.  Or when they saw through the hypocrisy of Ayn Rand’s characters, or understood that the wealthy Miss Havisham was one of the most miserable characters in literature.  These uncomfortable, yet defining moments are what makes teaching relevant and impels students toward adulthood.   Republican governors want to take those moments out of the classroom by banning books, restricting speech, and pretending sex doesn’t exist.  Governors in many southern states like Texas, Arkansas, and Florida have signed bills satirized as “don’t say gay” into law.  These bills severely limit the ability to mention LGBTQ in any way in the classroom, including forbidding teachers to broach the subject from a personal or ed