Thanksgiving Day Thanks Giving Reminder

        It’s amazing how easy it is for folks to get into the spirit of a holiday. Those special days are reminders, lest we forget. On Thanksgiving, people gather around a feast-laden table. They hold hands and give thanks for all those present, those who are not at the table, for friends, family, and the food that has been provided. There is reverence, gratitude, joy, and friendship. Conversations are civil and memory rich. Remember the time that…

       The feast is just part of the day as families and friends gather. A father throws endless high-arching passes to his young  son who deftly grabs the football and throws it back, eagerly awaiting the next pass. Two little pre-teen, compatible cousins shoot hoops or drop by the appetizers to grab bites to fill the voids in growing girls bodies. Or all of the kids invent their own games and laugh and squeal with delight. And there is always the cell phone activity. And there are older cousins who sit and talk, text a lot, and help when called. The television is tuned to the Thanksgiving Day football game, sometimes eagerly watched and other times totally ignored. The kitchen is the busiest place in the house where it’s all systems go! Beautiful children continue to run in and out and through the house. Grandma and grandpa sit with smiles at the wonder of it all. Moms and Dads are trying to manage the stress of such a big day with so many moving parts. But they all come together and dinner is served. The after-dinner game of hide-and-seek in the house is a game enjoyed by the little and the “big” kids

          As we think about our Thanksgiving Day filled with so many positive happenings, so much love, so much fun, and so many pictures for the camera of the soul, we smile and give thanks.

          If we were to journal the week following Thanksgiving, we would find the same things happening and more, just not all in one place. Somehow we forget to be grateful for the ordinary things that happen every day. The simple things that we hurry through–the warm shower, a breakfast, the beauty of a morning walk, the children clamoring for our attention as they ready for school, the car and the roads that take us to work or school, our teachers, our colleagues, our friends and neighbors. Learning to be grateful is a task for all moments. So often we don’t say thanks until we regain something we have lost.

           On the day after Thanksgiving we have the same choice that we have each day: to be grateful or not. The joy experienced from the gratefulness expressed and felt on Thanksgiving Day is available each day, each hour, each minute. It is a gift that is with us always, but we must choose to be grateful. With gratitude, comes joy.

Common Core Standards–What’s in the Words?

Lots of talk about the Common Core Standards coming out of Washington, D.C.The folks in the Department of Education have decided that they know what is best for every child in America. The federal government will decide what our kids need to know. Only those interested in controlling what our young people learn would make such a foolish decision. Parents, local schools, communities, local school boards, and even state education bodies, those close to the learners, will lose control.

For starters, it is not the sameness of citizens in America that has made this country great; it is the great diversity. It is the ingenuity of individuals who dared to be different. It is the courage of those who gathered on the hills around St. Louis to start their trek to the West. It is the  strengths of the individual cultures of the many that have made us “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

I have been in education at all levels and in a variety of responsibilities for over 70 years, and still serve on a local school board. I can guarantee you that one set of standards for this diverse nation is crazy. It certainly is not in the interest of improving the quality of learning for all of our kids, although the premise is sold as such. That idea has not even worked at the state level. State legislatures have, for many years, tried to legislate standards for all to improve education in their states. Most carry fancy names, cost millions or billions of dollars, give grants to implement, spend a lot for advertising the greatness of the idea, and fizzle after the sparkle of the newness.

It soon becomes apparent that not all kids can pass algebra in the eighth grade, or not all kids can pass a high school exit exam, or that test scores don’t go up with the latest innovation or edict. Much, much, teacher and administrator time is spent on “rolling out the program,” which means implementing a new law, only to find he shelf life is pretty short. They are doomed to fail; learners are diverse. They always have been and always will be, unless you take away the  heart and mind soul that makes them an individual. Only then can you control them sufficiently to eat the pabulum of sameness.

Each one of us is an original. Each is given a heart, a mind, and a soul. These gifts are individual. And each individual has a “yellow brick road” to travel. Why do we think they all need the same knowledge, attitudes, and skills to travel these precious roads?

Could it be to eat the swill of control? Could it be that our individual roads keep us free? Could it be that our children must be taught to give up individuality for the group? Could it be that a federal program gives access to enter every classroom in America at any time with any message without the parents or local school board even being aware? Could it be that it is a part of a final assault on local control of the education of our youth?

Yes, we need an educated society to maintain our republic. But the education must be such that our kids understand what maintaining a republic requires. We must inform ourselves. Are the Common Core Standards “Knights in Shining Armor” to rescue our educational system, or are they “wolves in sheep’s clothing” to literally pull the wool over our eyes?

 

 

 

 

Core Standards–What’s in the Words

 

Lots of talk about the Common Core Standards coming out ofWashington,D.C.The folks in the Department of Education have decided that they know what is best for every child inAmerica. The federal government will decide what our kids need to know. Only those interested in controlling what our young people learn would make such a foolish decision. Parents, local schools, communities, local school boards, and even state education bodies, those close to the learners, will lose control.

““ For starters, it is not the sameness of citizens inAmericathat has made this country great; it is the great diversity. It is the ingenuity of individuals who dared to be different. It is the courage of those who gathered on the hills aroundSt. Louisto start their trek to the West. It is the  strengths of the individual cultures of the many that have made us “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

I have been in education at all levels and in a variety of responsibilities for over 70 years, and I still serve on a local school board, and I can guarantee you that one set of standards for the nation is crazy. It certainly is not in the interest of improving the quality of learning for all of our kids, although the premise is sold as such. That idea has not even worked at the state level. State legislatures have, for many years, tried to legislate standards for all to improve education in their states. Most carry fancy names, cost millions or billions of dollars, give grants to implement, spend a lot for advertising the greatness of the idea, and fizzle after the sparkle of the newness.

It soon becomes apparent that not all kids can pass algebra in the eighth grade, or not all kids can pass a high school exit exam, or that test scores don’t go up with the latest innovation or edict. Much, much, teacher and administrator time is spent on “rolling out the program,” which means implementing a new law, only to find he shelf life is pretty short. They are doomed to fail; learners are diverse; always have been and always will be, unless you take away the  heart and mind soul that makes them an individual. Only then can you control them sufficiently to eat the pabulum of sameness.

Each one of us is an original. Each is given a heart, a mind, and a soul. These gifts are individual. And each individual has a “yellow brick road” to travel. Why do we think they all need the same knowledge, attitudes, and skills to travel these precious roads?

Could it be to eat the swill of control? Could it be that our individual roads keep us free? Could it be that our children must be taught to give up individuality for the group? Could it be that a federal program gives access to enter every classroom inAmericaat any time with any message without the parents or local school board even being aware? Could it be that it is a part of a final assault on local control of the education of our youth?

Yes, we need an educated society to maintain our republic. But the education must be such that our kids understand what maintaining a republic requires. We must inform ourselves. Are the Common Core Standards “Knights in Shining Armor” to rescue our educational system, or are they “wolves in sheep’s clothing” to literally pull the wool over our eyes?

 

 

 

 

Proud to Be a Veteran

 Every one is a veteran of something because you have done it for some time, but being a Veteran because  you have raised your right hand to serve your country, uphold its Constitution, and protect it from enemies from within and without, is quite a different matter. You are allowed to wear that uniform that sets you apart and requires much of you.

        Military service was not on my planned life’s journey itinerary. That is, until a young female naval officer came to talk to the girls in her former high school in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Those girls just happened to be in my physical education and biology classes. These kids were among those I taught in my first teaching job.

        I was a mere 21. She talked of the War, the Navy, the opportunity, but most of all the duty. It was early 1943; Pearl Harbor was still a raw subject. The War in the Pacific was horrific. The War in Europe was difficult. The young naval officer was not a recruiter; she was just a citizen turned patriot. She was going to do whatever she could to help those brave men aboard the ships, the planes, and the landing barges that carried the men to islands in the Pacific that became infamous and those that sometimes weren’t even named on the maps of the world.

        The Navy needed physical education instructors to work with the physical fitness of the WAVES, the women in the Navy, she said. I could do that; I could serve my country. After I enlisted, I was sent to Minneapolis, Minnesota, for my physical. During my interview, the officer suggested that I was too young to be an officer. In my youth, I became enraged and gave a lecture to her on the lack of relationship between age and maturity. She was not pleased, decided to rid herself of the upstart, and sent me to take the physical. Having been blessed with good health coupled with my attention to my fitness, the physical was a breeze.

I raised my right hand, repeated the words of the oath, and I was in the Navy. I thought that I would be able to finish out the school year, but that was not to be. I was called to my first duty base in May, 1943.

        Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, was like a foreign country to this small town girl from Iowa and the pheasant filled prairies of South Dakota. It is a beautiful and elite women’s college. The town was definitely a cultural adventure for me. We ate at the famous Inn in the city. I came to understand that the food was extraordinary. But then I only knew lobsters existed because I studied Biology in college. I came to relish the new things to explore. It did not take long to appreciate the fine cuisine at the Inn.

        I came also to understand the uniqueness of the women with whom I served. I was one of very few with just a bachelors degree; most had masters and doctorates. It was amazing to learn what people had left to raise their right hand. So many left very prestigious positions. It truly was an interesting, diverse mix of women who had accomplished much in their civilian lives; I did not truly understand how much until after the War when I came to understand fully the glass ceiling.

        As the training came to a close, we all eagerly awaited our “orders.” Mine took me to the Naval Air Technical Training Center at Millington, Tennessee, not far from Memphis. It was a huge base with a Naval Air Station across the street and a Naval Hospital just down the street. The military during the War was a great melting pot and equalizer. The uniform of the United States Navy or Marine Corps was the same for celebrity, teacher, farmer, business executive, movie star, football coaches and football stars, famous chefs and photographers, holders of gold medals, the college grad, or the kid who dropped out of school. Insignia told you what they were doing, but most certainly not where they were from. But we all took the same oath.

Yes, I am proud to be a veteran. I have been able to speak of my pride when folks express surprise that I was in the Navy. Some seem to think that women in the armed services were quite different from those that I knew. My children know that I am proud; I know they are, too. My grandchildren know that I am proud; I know they are, too. My friends know, my colleagues know, and any shipmates I meet certainly know. The sports guy who wants to stop playing the national anthem at sports events will never know or understand my pride. Too bad. His loss.

       America, feel my pride.   I am just one among so many. But I am ONE. As long as I have voice and pen, I will tell you about my  pride.  Do not ignore those who would silence the pride of those who know it. And above all, preserve the voice of those who served and paid the price of the silent voice. They rest with pride; we must be their voice, too.

 

President Obama–CEO of the Transformers

President Obama has said on several occasions that he intends to transform this country. He has many followers and many who have preceded him who helped to lay the foundation for the entitlement society that has evolved over the past several decades. The transformers have taken the love of liberty away from our people, particularly the new immigrants that they want to control, yes own. They have replaced this love of liberty with license. They have gradually convinced more and more people that it is OK to accept government hand-outs. They have convinced so many with free stuff that welfare is a right, and there is nothing wrong with welfare even when you’re able to work.

Government programs are in place to break down the “stubborn pride” of people who want to make their own way, who don’t want to accept government charity just because it is available with a program the government is promoting. Food stamps are a good example. When people feel responsible as individuals, the transformers try to convince them that it is foolish, stubborn, senseless pride not to accept something free that will “help them.” These programs are here to help you, the government says. Your friends and neighbors are taking advantage of this marvelous program, the government spokesperson proclaims.

Soon you have created a culture of folks as well trained as Pavlov’s dogs to feel justified in taking what others have earned, to believe the government is an endless pot of money. The transformers are committed to the destruction of freedom as we know it and as our founders knew it, fought for it, and devised a system of government to assure and sustain God given rights.

The transformers have broken our “melting pot.” They speak the words with derision. They convince us that “losing our identity” is a very bad thing. They devised the term “multiculturalism.”  They use multiculturalism to advance their cause while destroying what our Founders gave us, freedom. We become a part of the diatribe about how bad our country is, how selfish our people are, and how arrogant and boastful we are. All the while, they accept our generosity and continue to condemn us.

As the transformers continue to extinguish the founding lights of “the shining city on the hill.” we must turn them back on. We the People have the switch to turn them back on. But we must switch it back on at every level. We must make certain that our elementary and high schools teach our real history and founding values; we must send these well prepared kids to our colleges and university to stun their liberal professors with those founding values and truths. We must send these well-prepared young people to our state legislatures where they become citizen legislators. And we must send people to our federal government and Congress where they, too, are citizen legislators and servants of the people. The switch to the lights for “shining city on the hill” is in our hands. It’s up to us to flip that switch. _