A Teacher Speaks

Justin Minkel teaches 1st and 2nd grades at Jones Elementary in Springdale, Ark., a high-performing, high-poverty school where 85 percent of the students are English-language learners. Minkel was the 2007 Arkansas Teacher of the Year.  He shares his thoughts on where...

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An Interesting Look At The 1918 Pandemic

Most of us had never heard of the pandemic of 1918 until we ran headlong into the pandemic of 2020.  So from time to time we've come across references to 1918.  But what was it really all about?  Here is an excellent article by Christine Hauser of The New York...

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The UNITED States Of America. Really?

We've all had it pounded in our heads virtually from birth that we live in a united country of 50 different states. Truth is, few things could be farther from the truth.  If it were, we would all be pulling in the same direction at the same time, striving for common...

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NEVER, EVER Mention A Woman’s Weight

While it may not be written in stone anywhere, I am 100 percent convinced that one of the rules of male peaceful coexistence with the opposite sex is NEVER, EVER utter a breath about a woman's weight. Wayne Reynolds is on the State School Board representing Huntsville...

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Is Anyone Minding The Store?

Obviously these are not normal times at the state department of education as all hands are on deck grappling all the unknows of re-opening schools in the middle on a pandemic.  Virtual learning is front and center in this effort as a number of systems have said their...

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How Can You Be This Dumb?

With fallen Civil Rights icon John Lewis coming back to Alabama for the final time this past weekend, for a few hours the world was focused on Selma and Montgomery. Turns out that Saturday freshman Republican house member Will Dismukes was also in Selma.  However, he...

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What Can Happen When You Do It Right

While Alabama has little good news regarding Covid-19, a recent article on AL.com about how a number of entities have combined efforts to make sure every student returning to a institution of higher education in the next few weeks will be tested for the virus prior to...

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Shut It Down, Start Over, Do It Rght

Inexplicably this country continues to show the rest of the world what gross incompetence looks like when dealing with a national public health crisis.  Had we had this caliber leadership in WWII, we would have fought our enemies with bows and arrows. Given this...

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Will Alabama Shoot Itself In The Foot?

With the Nov. 3 election now just over three months away (thankfully). the most watched statewide race will be the contest for U.S. Senate between incumbent Democrat Doug Jones and Republican challenger Tommy Tuberville. Jones won this seat in a special election in...

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Italy Did It Right

When Covid-19 first began to attract attention earlier this year, Italy was reeling.  As infection there spread rapidly and deaths soared, the U.S. paid scant attention and largely went into denial. (Which some in this country are still in.) Now the virus is raging in...

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When Did We Lose Our Soul?

We have all been told from birth that we are blessed to live in the greatest country any collection of humans has ever devised.  That whatever it is, we are the best, the most generous, the most caring, the most unified.  That there is no challenge we can not...

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How Some States Are Beating The Virus

As some have noticed, I am not above passing stuff along from the internet I find especially meaningful.  The article below is one since it does a good job of detailing how Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Connecticut and New York have managed to get a handle on...

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Lessons From 1918

As we all struggle to sort out information and misinformation about Covid-19, I came across the following article from Dr. David Hicks, Deputy Health Officer for Jefferson County that is worthy of your time: "As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we would do well to...

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No Mo Tea

One afternoon in March of 2019 I hopped in my car and headed to a local "doc in a box."  I really don't recall my symptoms, but I knew somethi9ng was wrong.  Shortly after I got there I was being loaded in an ambulance and shuttled to Baptist East ER.  I remember my...

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Re-Writing History

The President held a political rally last week with George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt looking over his shoulder from Mount Rushmore.  He said "Our country is witnessing a merciless campaign to erase our history." To a certain...

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Words Of Wisdom

My longtime friend and Dothan Eagle editorial writer, Bill Perkins, penned words below that bear repeating.  Basically he is saying that the doomsday naysayers now roaming the land are very poor students of this country's history who prefer fantasies to realty.  He is...

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Pandemic Exposes U.S. Underbelly

We are all aware of the enormous toll Covid-19 has taken on this country, both health wise and economically.  But what most fail to consider is how badly we've botched our response to the pandemic as compared to many countries.  All who are so quick to pound their...

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“Stuck With Stupid”

Michael Steele is an attorney from Maryland who was once that state's Lt. Governor.  He is seen often on cable news as one of dozens of commentators.  He is also a former chairman of the National Republican Committee.  As best I can tell, even though he is a...

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Coming To The End Of The Road

How do you figure out when your fastball ain't as fast as it once was?  Or that it takes you longer to run from home plate to first base than a few years ago? In other words, what makes you face the reality that you have far more yesterdays than tomorrows and that...

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Woodland Prep Charter Gets Revoked

After a two-year battle that seemed to have more lives than a houseful of cats, the state charter school commission voted today (June 9) to revoke the charter granted in 2018 to Woodland Prep charter school in Washington County. How many articles have I written about...

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Auburn Mourns Pat Dye

Ardent Auburn University supporters, like me. are prone from time to time to refer to someone as "an Auburn man."  In a way, it's a rather mystical description, like beauty, in the eyes of the beholder.  And while there may be some disagreement as to what it is, there...

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Here We Go Again

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...

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What Makes Children Special

We all know children are special.  But from time to time we need to be reminded of just how special.  So I stole this from Facebook. What Love means to 4-8-year-old kids A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds 'What does love...

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A Special Invitation

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...

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From Kansas With Love

We've all been heartened recently by stories of fellow citizens and their acts of kindness and charity during the pandemic.  Here is one from the Washington Post that got my attention.  For one, it's about farmer Dennis Ruhnke of northeast Kansas.  Secondly, it was...

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Remembering Ms. Lanning

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...

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I Wish I Had Written This

Frances Coleman has been a friend for many years.  I met her when she wrote editorials for the old Mobile Press Register, way back in the day when newspapers were printed on paper and were available every day of the week.  A time that now seems so long ago that cars...

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A Tiger Among Us

Recently I did a short piece about Medal of Honor winner Bennie Adkins of Opelika being a victim of the coronavirus.  I largely relied on info that Troy Turner, editor of the Opelika-Auburn News, wrote.  In fact, it was Troy's article that told me my friend of many...

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To Zoom Or Not To Zoom

Once again I have come face to face with new-fangled technology and as is always the case, tech won and I lost. Due to the pandemic, face-to-face meetings are being replaced by virtual get togethers.  I'm told these may be done with Google Hangouts, Skype, Facetime or...

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“Blue State Bailout”

You got to love U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Republican majority leader of the Senate.  That is if you look up to someone who epitomizes all that is wrong with Washington these days. With governors and local officials wondering how they will keep their...

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A Story That Needs To Be Told

America lost an honest-to-goodness war hero last week when Command Sgt. Major Bennie Adkins passed away in Opelika after contracting the coronavirus.  There are fewer than 100 living Medal of Honor recipients in the U.S.  Adkins was one of them. Adkins was recognized...

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Need Your Feedback

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...

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An Excellent Primer On Virus Testing

Like everyone else, I have followed all the discussion about testing to see who has the coronavirus, and who does not, with great interest.  All the health experts I've heard (this does not include politicians and TV talking heads) say more widespread and accurate...

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Living In A Pandemic

The only sound in my bedroom comes from the clock.  Tick tock.  Tick tock.  Tick tock. Second by lonely second, time comes and goes.  And in that exact moment, somewhere in this world a baby drew their first breathe and someone breathed their last one.  While all of...

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Woodland Prep. Fake Charter School Lives On.

Drive by any school in Alabama (during more normal times) and what do you expect to find?  Classrooms.  Students.  Teachers. Textbooks.  Computers.  A curriculum.  Someone in charge. But nearly two years after the Alabama charter school commission gave the go ahead to...

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To Keep You From Losing Your Mind

Editor's note: I did not write the following.  Rather, "borrowed" it from a cousin's Facebook page.  Wish I had written it.  You will love the last line.  Enjoy. Half of us are going to come out of this quarantine as amazing cooks. The other half will come out with a...

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Who Got My Toilet Paper?

Like most, I have been mightily baffled that toilet paper is almost non-existent these days.  That it, the kind most of us use in our bathroom at home. Then a couple of days ago I heard a reporter on TV talk about what he'd learned as to why there is a shortage.  I...

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Life In A Pandemic

As hard as it may be to believe, for the first time in my life I went to the grocery yesterday and bought salt and pepper.  You know, one of those little round packages with holes in the top.  Which means I can now scramble eggs and sprinkle salt and  pepper on them....

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Wisconsin Election: Pure Madness

Wisconsin's presidential primary election has long been scheduled for Tuesday, April 7.  Then the world was turned upside down by the virus pandemic. And in Wisconsin, all hell broke loose as the Democrat Governor, Tony Evers, and the Republican-controlled legislature...

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Stolen From Facebook

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: "Dear TEACHERS,, Next year, I don't care if you make the school supply list 10 pages long.  I'll get you whatever you...

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When Words Escape Me

NEVER in my 77 years has the United States faced a time as daunting as the one we now face.  Unbelievably it was just a month ago today (March 3, 2020) when Alabama went to the polls for our presidential primary.  That was the day voters slam dunked the attempt by the...

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Mean While, Back In Washington County

The South Oak Grove Baptist church has been a fixture in southwest Washington County since 1880.  It doubled as a school for nearly 60 years, until a school was built in nearby Fruitdale. Today it is a staging site for volunteers working to provide meals for local...

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Washington County Schools Need Help

Share the following note from John Dickey, Washington County school superintendent: Washington County School system is in dire need of latex gloves, hand sanitizer, and Lysol spray – Does anyone know of suppliers with inventory available? I will pick up if necessary....

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Words For These Troubled Times

Editor's note: Wendy Lang is a dear friend and former teacher in Decatur, AL.  She now works for the Alabama Education Association In Morgan and Winston counties.  She has also written a weekly column for her hometown Decatur Daily for years.  As you will see below,...

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Don’t Sell Teachers Short

Ken Buck lives in Indian Land, SC and is a member of the Lancaster County school board. Here is his tribute to teachers posted on Facebook: "We gave educators almost no notice. We asked them to completely redesign what school looks like and in about 24 hours local...

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In Praise Of Porches

Like most homes built in the 1930s and 40s, Grandpa's little wooden structure at Rt. 2 Red Level had a porch.  And a swing and some rocking chairs.  The swing was perpendicular to the road, so Grandpa sat in it with his back to the house and his feet to the road. ...

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Living In A Bad Dream

Like everyone else, I am caught up in a world of great uncertainty, unlike anything I can ever remember.  Both of my parents were children of the Great Depression, a time that marked this nation for decades  They were also young adults when the country undertook the...

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Rural Schools Get The Shaft

As reported by Yahoo News: Thanks to an under-the-radar bookkeeping change at the Department of Education, hundreds of rural schools across the US are set to lose vital funds. As reported in the New York Times, the department has changed the eligibility criteria for...

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Internet Warning

While I am definitely low tech and challenged by most things electronic, that is not the case with my daughter Kim.  So when she passes along info, I pay attention. In light of the chaos and confusion about coronavirus, I share this info Kim shared with me. Beware of...

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When You Know The World Has Passed You By

I freely acknowledge that much of today's world is one I do not understand--or relate to. Alexia does not sit on my coffee table waiting for me to issue a command.  My GPS is this big piece of paper that is sometimes hard to refold and has lots of lines on it and...

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Who Is After Del Marsh?

Like you, I get tons of email (and I send tons as well).  I try my best to "screen" it.  Like the notes from a foreign country saying their great-grandfather was the prime minister of such and such and if I respond I will be fabulously wealthy.  Those get deleted...

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15 Minutes With The Governor

Recently I asked educators across the state what they would tell Governor Kay Ivey if they had 15 minutes to meet with her.  Answers came from retired superintendents, current superintendents, principals, teachers and school board members. They were well thought out...

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Thoughts On Amendment One Battle

While I was hopeful that Amendment One would fail, never did I imagine that it's defeat would be so overwhelming.  A 10 point defeat of 55-45 is considered decisive. But a 50 point shellacking of 75-25 like the voters gave to Amendment One is virtually unheard of....

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Amendment One Crashes And Burns

As I write this late on Tuesday night, March 3rd, Amendment One is losing by a margin of 76 percent to 24 percent. That is not just a defeat, it is having your heart jerked out and stomped flat. From one end of the state to the other, folks said emphatically that they...

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The Dishonesty Of NAEP Scores

Alabama voters have been bombarded incessantly for weeks by politicians screaming about our low test scores and how the sky is falling. HOWEVER,  not one of these lawmakers who are so quick to throw stones at school teachers and administrators have been honest enough...

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Don’t Be Fooled

The March 3rd vote on Amendment One, that will switch Alabama to an appointed state school board if approved, is not about education. It is about control. The old-fashioned kind that is fueled by lots and lots of money. How else do you explain that special interests,...

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Big Mules Add More Cash

A few days ago we told you that a handful of special interests had raised $225,000 to fuel a campaign to get Amendment One passed.  But as of Feb. 24, the Secretary of State's web site shows this has now grown to $446,000. Why are these people trying to buy a new...

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Some Things Never Change

When I did the recent post about the Big Mules rounding up hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to pass Amendment One and interject even more politics into our public schools, I immediately thought of a piece  I did last fall with the title, George Wallace Was...

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Here Come The Big Mules

It was bound to happen. "It" being a campaign fueled by mega bucks from some of the state's major political action committees in an effort to pass Amendment One. The Alabama Farmers Federation organized "Yes For The Best Education" effort.  They kicked things off with...

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More To Mississippi “Success” Than Meets The Eye

Editor's note:  When results of the most recent National Assement of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores were released, folks far and wide gave Mississippi accolades for drastically increasing their scores.  This was especally true here in Alabama where politicians...

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A Lesson In Civility

As already mentioned here, Sunday afternoon Feb. 9 I participated in a League of Women  Voters forum in Dothan to debate the pros and cons of Amendment One.  I opposed the measure.  Senator Greg Albritton from Atmore supported it. I had done my homework and so had...

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“Let Us Go To Dothan”

Editor's note:  Genesis tells us the story of Joseph looking for his brothers and being told that they went to Dothan.  So, like Joseph, Sunday afternoon Feb. 9 I went to Dothan.  But I was looking for a forum conducted by the Southeast Alabama League of Women Voters...

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Dothan Eagle Leery Of Amendment One

The Dothan Eagle put in a plug for the forum the Southeast Alabama League of Women Voters held Sunday afternoon, Feb. 9.  They urged locals to turn out to learn more.  (I was honored to be one of the two presenters.) However, the newspaper made no bones about the fact...

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More Bad News For Woodland Prep

Circuit Judge Gaines McCorquodale issued his ruling Feb 4 on Woodland Prep's motion to dismiss a law suit against them. The motion was denied and the suit now moves forward. The Alabama Education Association filed suit last August against Soner Tarim, the Texas-based...

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You Can’t Have It Both Ways

There are 138 school systems in Alabama.  All 67 counties have one, then there are another 71 local community systems.  All are different.  All have different resources and different challenges. They range from Mobile County with an enrollment of 52,741 to Linden with...

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LEAD Academy Charter Can’t Win For Losing

The news for Montgomery's LEAD Academy charter school has become a broken record.  One bad news story after another. This time The Montgomery Advertiser published a story on Jan. 28 that LEAD's education guru, Soner Tarim of Houston, is no longer involved with the...

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Have You Completed The Survey?

With the March 3 vote on Amendment One rapidly approaching, we're taking a final look at how folks feel. A YES vote will switch Alabama from an elected state school board, to one appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the state senate.  A NO vote will continue the...

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Larry Lee researches and writes on educational topics and Alabama public schools.

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