Any good All-American deep-fried “educrat” loves a good study. About 150 pages on nice, shiny, slick paper, maybe with some charts and graphs tossed in. Something that will look good when you hand them out at a press conference. And that will still look pristine a couple years later when a secretary stumbles on a box of them in the back of a closet in some government office.
In fact, we like them so much that here in Alabama we’re about to spend up to $750,000 on one the voters of the state recently said they did not want.
Remember a year ago when the legislature planned to take control of the state department of education by getting rid of the elected state school board? There was only one problem, the voters had to go along with the legislature by passing a constitutional amendment saying they did not want an elected state school board.
Obviously, someone did not think, the voters could think for themselves so they got the wheels rolling by setting aside $750,000 in the 2019-20 education trust fund budget to hire a consulting firm from Boston.
And as you see by this article, the consultants recently showed up to make a presentation to members of the state school board. But when things really get interesting is when you to look at the 14-page Executive Summary. Which you can do right here.
Back to the constitutional vote held on March 2, 2020. Among other things, if passed we would have created the Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education. But it did not pass. Did not even come close to passing as voters rejected it 75 percent against, 25 percent in favor.
But apparently it takes a while for news to get from Montgomery to Boston because right there at the bottom on page one in the summary the consultants talk about how great it is that Alabama is creating the Alabama Commission on Elementary and secondary Education and doing away with the elected state school board.
Just one small problem. IT AIN’T TRUE.
On page two of the summary it says the ALSDE (Alabama State Department of Education) must take full ownership and accountability for student progress across Alabama. But where is the accountability for blunders like this?
According to grandpa, “learning” came in at least two varieties. One was by “doing.” Like when you find a flat surface to put down an old, crooked nail and make it straight again. Of course, it helps if the surface is fairly hard and you are right particular just how you hold the nail.
The other being “book” learning, the kind a school boy should do when they have a desk and a book in front of them.
This is the variety my son Kevin will be doing on June 1 at 4 p.m. Thanks to the good folks at the Alabama Humanities Foundation, Kevin is leading a discussion of the book, American Nations, by Colin Woodard every Monday of June.
For more info on how you can sign up for this on-line adventure, go here.
As I’ve said before, this is one of the most interesting books I have ever read and I’ve gone to it many times, which is why my copy is so dog-eared. If you are like I used to be, when you studied the history of the United States you never paid much attention to how this country was settled and how the backgrounds of early settlers had great impact on the various regions of the U.S. And continues to do so even today.
I can almost guarantee that at some point in this exercise you will have an “ah ha” moment. One of those instances where a light goes off and you say, “damn, why haven’t I ever thought about that before.”
Hope to see you then.
I have mentioned the book, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard, a number of times. It has made a big impact on the way I now view this country and the very meaningful regional differences that impact our culture.
For example, there are tremendous differences in the ancestors of us folks in the “deep south” and those who first inhabited New England’s “yankeedom.” Differences that are impossible to ignore as we mistakenly try to compare education in say, Massachusetts, and Alabama.
And in June, my son Kevin is doing a series of webinars with the support of the Alabama Humanities Foundation, to discuss the book. These will take place at 4 p.m. central time on June 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29.
You can sign up by going to this link.
Hope to see you there.
Our friend Wendy Lang from Decatur takes us back many decades to a Birmingham kindergarten class and her teacher, Ms. Lanning. It’s a trip most of us could take, back to our own Ms. Lanning, someone who touched our young lives in special ways and enriched us far more than they might ever have imagined.
And in such trying times as we now find ourselves, such memories are more precious and sweeter than ever before.
“I remember very well the year I turned five. Daddy took a position at Steel City Olds in Birmingham and we packed up what we needed from our home in Decatur and took a one room apartment for the year. Mother signed me up for kindergarten at South Avondale Baptist Church and from 9 until noon each day, I was totally spellbound by Mrs. Lanning, my teacher.
Mrs. Lanning was remarkable. Every day was a new adventure. We learned French and sang songs and took walks that led us to fun things to do right there in the neighborhood. We went to a farm where I refused to milk the cow and rode a train from way far away right in to the center of town at the biggest most elaborate train station I had ever been privy to see. It was also the only train station I had ever seen.
I remember one evening in May Mother dressed me in my Sunday best with my white gloves, black patent Mary Janes polished to shine and crinoline petticoats that put little squares in my rear end when I sat down. It was a special occasion…..my kindergarten graduation. Mother and Daddy were thrilled and I marched in with my class and took my seat and waited my turn. Mrs. Lanning called my name and I walked up to her and she handed me my diploma curled up like a scroll and tied with a white satin bow. It was a proud moment.
At the reception following the ceremony, she took me in her arms and gave me the biggest hug and I told her that I would never forget her. To this day, my tattered and torn diploma is hung proudly with those from high school, college, graduate school and other schools I have been blessed to attend. But the thought that sticks out to me tonight as I contemplate Teacher Appreciation Week is the real impact that she had on my life.
Years later I went on to become a kindergarten teacher in the basement of the old stone building at Eva School. While the building has been torn down, I will forever cherish the memories of those children who taught me while I was there (yes, you read that right), but even more so, I will always remember the love, the creativity and the imagination that Mrs. Lanning brought to South Avondale Baptist Church Kindergarten and to me. She taught me more than 1,2,3’s and A,B,C’s. She taught me by example and I am proud to have followed her lead.
To everyone who touches the life of a child, you have instilled in them dreams, desires and ambitions and have lead by example. Thank you for giving of your heart to our children. You are appreciated not just this week, but every day of the year”
As everyone scrambles to insure that help from Washington is put to the best possible use, your input on how best to use money from the CARES Act for k-12 education is needed. In this case, the total amount for Alabama would exceed $250 million.
Go here to give your feedback.
Social media is full of tributes to teachers these days from parents realizing just how difficult their jobs are. Here is one that got my attention:
Next year, I don’t care if you make the school supply list 10 pages long. I’ll get you whatever you ask for. You want eight dozen pre-sharpened Ticonderoga pencils? They’re yours. You want 27 single subject notebooks with real dragon skin covers? I got you. Fifty bottles of hand sanitizer? Seems reasonable. A baby unicorn? I’ll make it happen. Whatever you want. Let me know if you have any food restrictions, ’cause I’m hiring you a personal chef. You want a masseuse to rub your shoulders while you grade papers? I can make that happen for you, my Queen.
Y’all, these kids are rotten. Mine. Yours. Karen’s. All of them, nerve wracking little monsters, and these sweet Angels that God saw fit to send us to educate our children are freaking ROCK STARS, and we do NOT give them enough credit. Or money. These teachers should all be driving Bentleys. Or better yet, a Rolls Royce with a personal driver. They should all be living in 5000 square foot mansions with in- ground heated pools.
So teachers, thank you. Also, I know that I gave birth to them, but I’m gonna need you to come and get your kids before I lose my ever- loving mind.
A Mama Who Has Had Enough of Coronacation and Trying To Homeschool these Heathens”