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Showing posts from July, 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

Youngkin's Plan For Education

 It’s almost that time of year again:  kids are enjoying the last free days of summer and getting ready for another school year.  New notebooks, book bags, lunch boxes and pens and papers of all shapes and sizes line the counter tops of homes across the country, waiting for the arrival of a yellow school bus and another year of learning math, English, science, and history.  Except in Florida.  By now, you’ve heard of the Florida Education Department’s declaration that slavery was an on-the-job training program designed to ready slaves for the work force.  But this isn’t the only scary change in academics for excited Floridian students.  Ever heard of Prager U ( ?  It’s neither a university nor a credible place to get curriculum for public schools.  But that hasn’t stopped Ron DE Santis and his gang from using it to promote white supremacist, misogynistic, and factually inaccurate information among the most vulnerable minors.  According to the Tampa Bay Times, the Florida De

It's Not the Pandemic, Stupid

I heard another hand-wringing report this morning about failing school children.  All fingers pointed to the pandemic as the cause, because that’s such an easy scapegoat.   But this calamity started back in the 90’s when Virginia mandated the Standards of Learning tests and was later exacerbated by the ill-fated No Child Left Behind mandate from the federal government.  It was a disaster in the making, whether or not a pandemic or any other disaster added to the mix.  Actually, I was kind of excited when the first SOL tests came out 30 years ago.  Finally, those in power would see that my students really did know something- if the test was  a fair measurement of their knowledge.    Of course, it never was.  My first group of 11th grade test-takers passed, all of them.  And only a handful of teachers with 100% passing existed in the state.  So of course, the governor put together a task force to find out why we were so successful.   “Teachers who know their material and set high standar