Do Not Ignore Ignorance – Do Public Schools Perpetuate Poverty?

Ignorance is not stupidity.  Ignorance is the absence of knowledge.  Example, are baby boys ignorant or stupid?  They are ignorant, but eager learners.  They watch, copy, listen, explore, and fall down.  They must learn to control their bodies; they must learn what is good to eat; they must learn to communicate; they must learn how to ride bicycles, play tag, kick a ball, write their names, be nice to grandma, be nicer to girls, and so on.

Schools are important, because what children learn in school, they could not learn by themselves.  Schools teach them the ways the world works.  Schools teach socialization on a much bigger scale than at home or in the neighborhood.  Schools show children that their home and community are not universal, there are other people, and other places that are much, much different.  Schools teach how to answer questions and solve problems.  Schools teach English the way that gives them the best avenue to written and spoken knowledge.  It might not match the way things are at home, but awareness of the “other-“worlds outside their experience is crucial for their future.

In the most primitive societies, people learn what survival has taught.  Live or die is the standard of measure.  Children start learning as innocents:  parents give “protected” lessons, small doses of harsh truths; they provide regular rescues and frequent warnings of the dangers.  As children develop, parents and family show them life skills in increments, and let them practice within safe limits; let them make small levels of all the natural mistakes, and suffer slight versions of all the natural penalties and results.  Primitive environments offer little slack between action and consequence.

The family teaches them the practical skills of eating, drinking, bathing, shelter.  Children learn to hunt, fish, farm, gather, make and use tools.  Their family shows them how to escape danger, hide from threats, and adopt social skills.  The kids learn what is required to stay alive.  After they can demonstrate the basics, they begin to refine and master whatever they need to live and prosper as an adult.

The parents, siblings, family and tribal members know that survival demands awareness of the differences between success, failure, and everything in between. Children and adults constantly watch, listen, practice, and compete with others to improve their knowledge and skills.  They win some, they lose some, they best some, and lose to others to find their place on the scales of mastery.

They are never allowed to go forward believing they can do something they cannot.  Life hangs in the balance, not only for the child, but for everyone in the connected community.  Mistakes by one spell critical danger for them all. What you don’t know will kill you.  Ignorance is death.

I like the saying, “you don’t know what you don’t know.”  This is the essence of ignorance – you have no clue that things exist that could be vital to your life. You are oblivious to dangers and opportunities, because they have never been revealed to you.  You are blind and deaf to what you could have and do, if you only knew you didn’t know.  Because then you could learn about those parts of life, and add them, if you are interested.

What happens when a child is not given direct links to truth and consequences?  What happens when they get vague or misleading feedback?   How will they fare in real-life competition when they grow up, after being praised for mastery they do not have?

Today, I read about the importance of education and thinking skills when competing for jobs.  I also read about poor children drifting through public school with other poor kids, copying their buddies, or family, or neighbors, dropping out early, because their friends do, or their parents did.  Even if they stay the course and graduate, how many are discouraged and disappointed when they venture into the “real world” nobody told them the truth about?

How is that working for us?  Almost a quarter of the students entering college or junior college require remedial courses to fill the yawning holes in their high school learning.  Why do they have a high school diploma that leaves them in the ditch for higher education?  How has the freshman year in college become the junior/senior year of high school?

Public schools like DISD have 90%+ poor children to educate.  This is a daunting mission.  Leaders and teachers are both proud and embarrassed with their jobs.  The truth is they provide educational foster care for their students for 12 years. They are the substitute family for these children. They feed them breakfast and lunch.  They show them all the knowledge they know how to show.  They have after-school activities for those whose parents work, to keep them safe, so they don’t have to be alone at home. They try to widen the children’s social perceptions and self-esteem, because poverty has wrecked them; home is where learning stops.

They cannot mitigate the parents’ problems, and the environment at home.  They cannot add staff empowered to backup teachers who face “class management” problems.  The poorest public schools have given up, because they cannot win; the problems are overwhelming; every factor is against them succeeding.  So, what choices do they have?  They either quit or compromise to survive as employees of public institutions; they point to marginal gains, and use subjective standards to describe “progress. “

They are deceiving us and our children mentally, emotionally, and socially. The object seems to be to get them to age 18 alive, and teach them enough to justify sending them into the world on their own.  It does not matter that they do not know what they do not know is ahead.

The advent and prevalence of “alternative evaluation” such as “participation awards,” has deprived children of the ability to answer life’s most important questions: What happened?  Did I win, lose, or draw?  What did I do or not do to get my results?

Part of the occlusion comes from cumulative generations of parents who have no foundation in their own education.  They cannot measure or judge their child’s knowledge or understanding of subjects that are foreign to themselves. Another contributor is the deliberate removal of clear measurement standards from school.  Whether grades are A – F, or 100 – 0, they give the student a place to stand on their personal learning curve.

All the malarkey about emotional intelligence, self-acceptance, cultural awareness, instead of mastery of subjects, derails education, and generates unprepared high school “graduates.”

Such subterfuge is just a smoke-screen to camouflage ineffective teaching systems, unsuccessful learning efforts, incompetent, deluded teachers, and dishonest, political, school officials.  Federal and state money to schools can rely on reported student achievement and advancement.  When the students do not perform on standardized tests of basic subjects, penalties arise for the school district.  The incentives to “play the game” are vast.

The saddest thing about this structure is its cumulative self-perpetuation.  High school drop-outs do not just disappear, they grow up, they have children whose parents are not educated or enthralled by the school experience.  These children do not have adult models of success, and are less likely to value and complete high school.  They grow up, they have children who have two generations of parents with limited education, and success, and so on.

The answer is not to pass students from overcrowded class to overcrowded class, frustrating year to frustrating year, with phony, political, grading methods; it is not to issue them a counterfeit high school diploma, and kiss them good-bye.

What are the answers?  Cut the psycho-babble crap; forget the “participation” trophies; tell our children the truth; give them grades on a finite scale; offer them tangible ways to measure what they really know; teach them learning skills and habits.  Let them see who has learned, and who has not.  If they fail to learn some parts of subjects, show them; then let them know that failing once, or twice, or ten times is not the end, show them how not to quit, show them how to try again.  No child learns to walk or ride a bicycle on the first try.  Why should other learning be different?

Want to see motivated, determined learning?  Watch children play sports and games.  Kids will practice and practice until they find out what works, what does not, who is good at them, who is not.  Failure does not stop them when they want to play.  Golf is a great example.  Golfers are not daunted by the fact they may never be excellent.

We are telling parents and children that their only hope is college.  At best, this false notion leads many underqualified students to enter college unprepared, to struggle into insurmountable debt, fail, drop-out, or earn a useless, jobless “degree.”  College is not the only way to qualify for a respectable job.

The absence of non-college career training is a glaring omission in modern education.  Why can’t we emphasize quality trade schools as respectable alternatives to college?  Restore prestige to learning trades.  A master plumber can earn more than a poorly-performing college graduate.  Trades offer decent earnings opportunities, as well as professional pride and respect.  In addition, most trades cannot be “outsourced” to another country, or eliminated by technology.

Why not:

  • Offer trade-related courses in high school as an alternative to college preparatory courses?

  • Reinstate work/study programs related to trades.

  • Offer trades training to undereducated parents

  • Let parents and children see that most trades require knowledge of basic math, language, and science.

  • Offer trades-enhanced GED diplomas

  • Let parents bring their children to afternoon and early evening classes.

Think about the stages of human mastery:

  1. Discover something you want or need to learn

  2. Test your current knowledge

  3. If you fail, analyze, learn, and adjust

  4. Retry, analyze, learn, and adjust

  5. Once you learn the basics, practice, analyze, learn, and refine

  6. Practice, analyze, learn, and refine until you excel.

What might happen if we taught this mindset and process?

 

Children Threatened in Public School Classrooms – Federal Laws Deny Them Protection from Disruption

Civilized societies set behavioral norms, and prescribe consequences for violating those norms.  For example, it is not okay to harm another person without cause; it is not alright to harass someone, or “disturb the peace.”  Families can set broader boundaries inside their homes, but not in public.  However, sadly misguided federal laws and rules subject public school children and their teachers to violent, threatening, disturbing, unpredictable, disruptive behavior every day, in the name of “equal education.”  This violates common sense and the rights of the other children to a peaceful education.

In the so-called “real world” normal people do not put up with violent or disruptive people.  The disruptive person is usually fired from a job in a work environment, ejected or arrested in social or public environments.  Medical treatment is indicated, to the extent emotional disabilities or mental illness are involved; punishment and fines are indicated otherwise.  In other words, society separates or isolates disturbed citizens and insulates normal citizens from their disruptions.

I do not know any normal, emotionally healthy people who are made to endure the disturbances of disruptive adults.  Why do we subject our children and public school teachers to behavior normal society does not allow?  Most teachers are not trained psychologists, and none of the students are trained to accept and deal with such frightening, threatening behavior either.  Even if they were, there is no excuse for making public school so trying, and perhaps harmful.

 The current federal laws paint children with “disabilities” and public schools with a broad brush when they require inclusion and mainstreaming without stipulation.  Do they think normal classrooms are therapy for violent and disturbed students?  Do they think the distress and disruption help normal students learn?  Disturbed, violent, and disabled students need added, special resources and treatment that normal students do not.  Why subject the whole class to special efforts that scare them, delay normal learning and deny them the knowledge they are present to obtain?

Special needs children deserve to be taught the same knowledge as other kids.  Many special needs children are not disruptive.  However, their special needs may require different teaching approaches and intensive, trained, instruction to attain that knowledge.

The advocates of “mainstreaming” tout the marginal benefits to special needs students, but blithely avoid discussion of the serious detriment to “mainstream” students and the teachers that must cope with the stress and interference required to produce those benefits.  This attempt at social engineering is so obviously lame, it cannot stand a reality check.  Does anyone remember when even whispering in class, and passing notes were punishable infractions?  They were infractions because they distracted students and teachers from the purpose of the class.  Has this idea expired from political correctness?

If the needs of the few can be met without expense to the many, I say, so be it.  Find another way to fulfill the needs of violent, threatening, and disruptive students.

Millions of Americans Install Russian “Spyware” on PC’s

Update 7/2/17: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article159342929.html

In the 21st century, anyone in America, without awareness and knowledge of computers, is as vulnerable as a “babe in the woods.”  The information age has vaulted into predominance of American’s attention without the benefit of requisite education, warnings, and orientation.  And this extends to all the people who, together, run our government.

Unfortunately, computers have become easy to use too quickly, and recklessly; it is like giving a hammer to a baby.  Americans can send and receive emails, visit on Skype, download free “stuff,” shop til their fingers or credit cards give out, bare their most intimate and inane secrets and weaknesses, seek love, watch videos, etc.

Americans are as ignorant about “hacking,” as they are about “fracking.”  “Hacking” sounds like chopping away at something like wood, or meat.  The concepts of computer hacking are not too different, except computer hackers are trying to log in to computer networks by trying to identify an administrative  user account; otherwise they test countless combinations of usernames and passwords.  They are burglars trying to steal valuable information, such as Ms Clinton-related emails, or damage, or hijack your system for ransom.  They look for anyone who has access to everything interesting and “hack” their account.

Hackers count on users being careless and simple in choosing their log in credentials. Sometimes users use their home computers or laptops to connect to their work computers. That means a “hacker” can find out how to connect to other network computers through your computer using your credentials.

How do they get into your system?  Through the internet, mostly through email links or attachments, otherwise they use multiple login attempts.  Sometimes, seemingly innocent emails or downloads can install software that gives a hacker the keys to everything on your computer, including your identity information, accounts, and financial information.

So, we take steps to protect ourselves with anti-virus, and anti-malware programs.  These programs learn and have access to every intimate detail about your computer and its connections to the internet.  They are supposed to detect, deter, and destroy any harmful files that come your way.  But wait; what if this software is turned against you?

How asleep at the switch, clueless, and careless can we be?  Millions of Americans have blithely installed Russian software on our own computers, supposedly, to protect us from malicious intrusions, and we are surprised when we are violated?  Really?  This software holds the keys to access everything on any computer that uses it, and any computer that connects to it or its networks.

We could have, should have looked beyond the advertising, (even ads on public radio,) and no cost downloads to the company that offers it; but we have not.  Even if you uninstalled the software, did it really remove every trace of itself?  Or, could it have left some tiny, hidden, latent elements designed to give itself a “back door” to your computer?  How would you know?

Anti-virus and anti-malware software is supposed to guard our computers from harm; it has access to everything on our computers and everything from other computers that communicate with; email, surfing, contacts, documents, programs, firewalls, passwords, yes, everything.  It is supposed to identify and neutralize threats from people and programs that seek to ransom, destroy, and steal our most valuable, sensitive information.  How carefully have we researched the sources of the programs and data we have on our computers?

Did you know that Kaspersky Labs, renowned for its anti-virus/malware powers, is owned by Russians and headquartered in Moscow?  Check out this link.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaspersky_Lab

I wonder, how many Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Greens have Kaspersky software on their computers?  I wonder how many other programs we might have downloaded that could be secret agents for our enemies?

 

The Divided States of America

America is an idea; a concept; an agreement; a contract; not a structure; not separate from its citizens; not invincible; not divine.  America is the sum of us; e pluribus unum; one nation; under God; a work in progress.

Now, our unity is deeply wounded; the cut is painful; we blame each other; we separate; we abandon trust; we lose our faith; we suffer; we fear; we lash out; we seek redemption; we want to be healed.

Staying together as a nation is hard; we are attacked; we are blamed; we question our beliefs; we question our leaders; we question ourselves; we become angry; we defend ourselves from each other.

Our children watch us; they trust us; they copy us; they love us; they grow up; they have love; they have work; they have families; they have children; they have the life you gave them; they inherited the America of today; they do not know what to do.

Too much everything intoxicates Americans; too much abundance; too much safety; too much power; too much food; too much information; too much ignorance; too much entertainment; too much violence; too much vulgarity; too much separation; too much taking; too much hurting; too much lust; too much abandoning; too much hate; too much racism; too much chemistry; too much addiction; too much medication; too much advertising; too much preaching; too much teaching; too much attitude; too much Satan; too much to handle.

Not enough truth demeans and degrades Americans; not enough knowledge; not enough love; not enough wisdom; not enough peace; not enough grace; not enough nature; not enough helping; not enough learning; not enough vocabulary; not enough strength; not enough compassion; not enough praying; not enough intimacy; not enough sharing; not enough family; not enough courage; not enough community; not enough contact; not enough respect; not enough God; not enough to thrive.

Some wounds are slow to heal; some feuds are hard to end; but America is ours to mend.

The Fight for Eyes

Political parties beware: the 2016 presidential election could stimulate American fact-checking and critical thinking – or not.  Why?  Could It be, we are awake and paying attention?  Could it be, we just want to be “right?”  Could it be, “We’re as mad as hell, and we’re not going to take this anymore.”?

In 2016, American information media reflect our mindsets.

  • We have boundless channels of 24/7 content battling for “eyes,” and “market share.”
  • We are so numb, it takes lurid, “mind bites” of “shocking facts” to get our attention.
  • Our jaded, fickle brains are addicted to “breaking news and “editorial reporting.”

Then comes the election.  How do we decide?  The battle lines are drawn.  The news media have abandoned objective balance in the fray.

It is natural for people with strong political bias to seek news sources that support their current views, and to ignore, avoid, or distain sources that reflect contrary, or impartial thinking.

Lord knows, we have enough choices (e.g. newspapers, magazines, radio, television, internet, social media).  Which do we choose: “bread and circuses,” or brains?  Do we swallow our favorite- flavored propaganda, or chew on the tough, tasteless truth?

Seven questions we can ask about what we call “news:”

  • Which sources provide complete, unbiased information and analysis?
  • Which sources provide incomplete, biased information and editorials?
  • Can we discern where information stops and persuasion starts?
  • Did we get all the information we need to understand?
  • Do we know enough to understand the context and importance of the information?
  • Do we have enough sources to verify or complete the information?
  • Do we care?

Few of the major news organizations remain credibly neutral or balanced.  Here are 10 news sources accepted as trustworthy by people across the political spectrum.

  1. The Wall Street Journal
  2. The Economist
  3. BBC
  4. Google News
  5. The Guardian
  6. Associated Press
  7. Reuters
  8. C-SPAN
  9. ABC
  10. USA Today

Here is an informative graphic from    showing the political positions of the various major news outlets.

news politics

Good thinking everyone.

What if Trump Wants to Lose? – Reality TV at its Finest

Interesting; both candidates for President are set for life, no matter who wins.  Aside from political ambitions, what other consequences can we think of?  Speaking engagements, books, endorsements; contributions to “selected” organizations, trust, foundations?

I think that is why Trump keeps upping the ante.  He is probably just as surprised as the pundits that he is the Republican candidate for president.  He is geared to parlay events that favor him into big wins.  But what if he does not want to win?  Could he be testing the limits of our national appetite for trash talk?

And, what about his campaign team?  In mid-August, Donald shrugs off the RNC “sheeps clothing” and resumes his “Wolf of Pennsylvania Avenue” regime.  An experienced manager tries to get him to smooth public dismay, and assume RNC campaign strategies; Trump demotes him and resumes fraying the tightrope to the White House.

Back to the show without protagonists; it must be amusing and frightening to watch our silliness.  All our military power, all our amazing creativity, dimmed by this imbroglio.

Timid, cowering politicians, showing everyone we have no cohesion, no clear direction, no acceptable answers to quell the “masses” who intuit the vacuum of power in our country.  Since 9/11 we have been “dazed and confused;” what should we do, whom should we trust; whom should we fear?

Flaying with “Shock and Awe;” useless, ignorant “boots on the ground” in places rich in resources, but impoverished in modernity.  We have shown our naiveté by superimposing our values and culture on 7th century tribal people.  Iraq was not even a country before Churchill drew a line around three feuding ethnic groups and assigned a titular government.  Afghanistan is the graveyard of many invading armies.

Donald Rumsfeld’s endorsement of Donald Trump is emblematic; the man who almost single-handedly emasculated Americas military, feebly blesses a novice in military affairs.  Sad, sad, sad.

I always thought of America in superlatives; strong, honest, forthright, steadfast, resourceful, courageous, and blessed come to mind.  Our moral infrastructure is in such disrepair, that we cannot stand for anything as a nation.  We have such weak bonds with each other, that we waste our energy and resources on things of little consequence in the world.  We blame each other for problems no one could create or solve.  We are frustrated with the impotence of government to do what it cannot.

  • Are we still recovering from the shock of a homeland attack?
  • Have our imaginations and fortitude been diverted to virtual reality?
  • Are we happy that we chose two weak candidates for President?
  • Are we that detached from reality?
  • Do we think this is just another show on TV?
  • Is our decline that obvious to the rest of the world?
  • Are Russia and China taking advantage of our frazzled reticence?
  • Where are the serious leaders we need?

We need citizens to accept individual responsibility and to participate in the things that matter – the true threats and vital problems; not bathrooms and weddings.

As in the TV series House of Cards, the voters are not in charge of anything. If we remain the audience for a reality TV Show, it should be called Decline.  You are never fired; in fact, you are stuck in a job you cannot afford to lose.  We could wake up like Gregor Samsa in Kafka’s Metamorphosis; no control over, and less understanding of what is happening to us.

Saul Alinsky was an important personal mentor to Hillary; his books are modern, grass roots, activist versions of Machiavelli’s The Prince, and Karl Marx’s Manifesto of the Communist Party.  Listen to the rhetoric of semi-incumbent,Hillary Clinton, and parse out the words that are not in Rules for Radicals.  She does not have any answers that were not available to another Alinsky apostle, Barack Obama; how can anyone believe she can do what he could not?  Not that Trump has any silver bullets either; but voting does not have to be rational; and so it is not.

Kizr Khan waved the Constitution on TV, but he must not have read the powers of the Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court. Had he read and understood Articles I, II, and III, he would know that all these sweeping promises candidates make are not within the powers vested in the Presidency.  If they could have, they would have.  Obama has stretched every possible executive power; what can any president do without Congress and the rest of the nation?  Read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

But I digress.  Just think; what if what Donald Trump never intended to become President. It has cost Donald Trump virtually nothing to become a famous world figure and a national icon.  He definitely, upset the powers-that-be in the RNC.  He awakened an army of citizens who have suffered too long from economic and government impoverishment.  Even if the presidency goes to the second most unpopular, and widely distrusted candidate, both she and Trump are set for life.

 

 

 

Hillary Clinton Showed More Awareness of Her Speaking Voice

During Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech, I liked the improvements in her speaking voice.  I shake my head when I read that her supporters lecture us to be more politically correct; you cannot order us to, “stop not liking her delivery, you men do the same thing and get accepted.”  Listeners cannot escape their visceral responses.  I say, “Stop telling us how we should respond.”

Our culture has conditioned us to hear and respond to voices since we were babies.  We did not choose our responses; we grew them based on the events that accompanied the speaking.  We are sensitive to tones, overtones, undertones, volume, brittleness, rhythm, pace, inflections in both high-pitched and low-pitched voices.  We have all been soothed and yelled at by both men and women.  We know it when we hear it. Watch how babies respond to voices; that is our nature.

Before microphones, people speaking to large groups or singing had to amplify their voices, a kind of practiced yelling.  Preachers in churches, actors on stages, singers of opera, and teachers in classrooms had to speak/sing loudly to be heard.

The advent of microphones made this unnecessary. Radio and television stations discovered which kinds of speaking voices are soothing, grating, jarring, preaching, threatening, etc.  They just do not hire people who do not speak successfully to their audiences.

No amount of chiding, “people should not let shrill voices bother them, they should just hear the message,” will change our automatic responses.  The speaker must accommodate the listener, not the other way around.  That is what voice coaches do.

What I noticed, during Hillary’s speech, was how many times she caught herself when she started to elevate her voice for emphasis, and lowered it into a more powerful, conversational range.  There is no need for yelling with today’s microphones.

The finest example at the convention was Michelle Obama’s amazing speech.  Replay it to experience the smoothest, clearest, most comfortable, conversational speaking I have ever heard.  She made it easy to hear her very strong points without yelling, grating, or preaching.

So, let the critics of the voice critics relent; no one will take you seriously; no one will cheer if their ears are not happy.