A Truth About Schools Too Many Refuse To Accept

Krista Johnson, who covers education for The Montgomery Advertiser, did a recent story about the funding of schools in the Montgomery County public school system.

She looked at funding for the 2018-2019 school year.  The system includes both magnet nd traditional schools.  None of the magnets qualify for Title 1 Federal funding  because they do not meet the guidelines of at least 40 percent of students considered poverty.

And tucked away in the article was this sentence, “Nixon Elementary–where 83% of students were considered economically disadvantaged–received the largest level of federal funding, at $3,698 per student, compared to $507 per student at Forest Avenue Academic Magnet.”

Later, the article points out that at Forest Avenue, the PTA consistently touts a 100% participation rate among families and teachers.

A few years ago I asked the then principal at Nixon how many PTA members they had.  “One,” was her reply.

BINGO.

I have written article after article on this topic.  About how we too often throw money at classrooms in high-poverty schools and expect teachers to solve all their problems  I have said over and over that we don’t have “falling” schools, instead, we have “failing school communities.”

I even did an article about E. D. Nixon after it was picked for a pilot community school effort in Montgomery.

Unfortunately, Mike Sentance was picked to be the state school superintendent in 2016, he soon declared that the state would assume control of the Montgomery County system and the Nixon pilot program would be halted.  (Thank goodness it only took about one year for the state school board to figure out what a disaster Sentance was and they parted ways.)

There is no mystery involved in knowing how this all works.  We’ve known it for decades.  They mystery is trying to figure out why we will not do the things we know must be done.

 

 

 

Don’t Look Now, But Here Comes Critical Race Theory.

Since I try to maintain a certain sense of civility on this blog (a standard I sometimes don’t meet) I will not tell your my exact reaction when I saw the AL.com article about the state school board’s discussion about something called Critical Race Theory..

I know little abut CRT other than it’s been around for about 40 years and taught at a graduate level by some universities.  But it appears to be an ideal candidate for a topic that certain political types can quickly escalate into a culture issue largely driven by fear of the unknown.  (Can you say Common Core?)

For instance, House member Chris Pringle of Mobile pre-filed a bill about CRT weeks ago to be introduced in 2022.  However, when a reporter for AL/com asked him what CRT involves, he had no answer.

Joe Windle recently retired as superintendent of the Tallapoosa County school system.  Here was his answer to the above AL.com article about the school. board discussion.

“Not aware of any school systems teaching CRT.  Damn.  Let’s teach kids in public education to read, communicate verbally and in writing and math.  Leave this theory stuff to the colleges and universities.”

All of which circles me back to a recent column by longtime friend and former editorial page editor of The Mobile Press-Register, Frances Coleman.

“I remember when I realized I did not want to be a schoolteacher. It was the summer between my junior and senior years in high school. I had signed up to be a teacher’s aide in our small-town public school system.

When I arrived bright and early on the first Monday of the system’s new Head Start program, which would last three hours a day, five days a week, for six weeks — two teachers met me with concerned looks on their faces. There were three sections of 5-year-old pupils, they explained, but only two teachers. The third one had resigned over the weekend.

Which meant that I, an earnest and bright but inexperienced 16-year-old girl, would have to teach the third section. “Don’t worry; we’ll help you,” the two teachers assured me.

And they did help me, and I survived, but still, it was the longest six weeks of my life, in which I learned that: I did not have a knack for controlling large groups of small children, lovable though they might be; I did not have the imagination to keep preschoolers engaged and engrossed for more than two or three minutes at a time; I had zero arts-and-crafts skills; and teaching is a lot harder than it looks.

As best I can tell from the outside looking in, teaching is even harder now than it was many decades ago. One of the reasons, if not the reason, is that politicians won’t let teachers do their jobs without incessantly trying to micromanage their classrooms. Whether it’s pitting evolution against creationism, forbidding the teaching of yoga and sex education, politicizing the federal “Goals 2000” and “Common Core” initiatives or, now, demonizing the so-called Critical Race Theory, state legislatures won’t keep their hands off of our schools.

Their job is to fund public education and to create the appropriate laws to govern it. But too many politicians cannot resist the temptation to embroil schools in the “culture wars” that they love to foment as a way to enrage certain groups of their constituents.

Thus, some legislatures are attempting to tightly control how the history of slavery and race relations in America is taught, and especially how the after-effects of slavery affect our nation to this day. Lest the honest teaching of America’s racial struggles unduly traumatize white children, lawmakers in Florida, Arkansas, Idaho and Oklahoma have banned the teaching of Critical Race Theory.

There are many definitions and explanations of CRT. Florida’s legislation defines it as “the theory that racism is not merely the product of prejudice, but that racism is embedded in American society and its legal systems in order to uphold the supremacy of white persons.”

Maybe you agree that racism is embedded in American society. Maybe you believe it’s not. But why on earth would we tell teachers that they can’t even promote the discussion of that fundamental question in their classrooms? Isn’t that what education is for — to teach young people to be critical thinkers, to research and read about and debate important questions and issues, and to formulate thoughtful opinions based on the facts they’ve gleaned? And, especially, to be unafraid of the truth?

I say yes, that is what education is for. And I have a modest proposal: that we allow teachers to teach, unburdened — to the extent that’s possible — by bureaucracy, by politics, by culture wars, by fanatics, and by people who have personal agendas that have little to do with ensuring the success of our public schools.

I learned a lot in that Head Start classroom many years ago, including how to recognize when a little kid needs to go to the bathroom, even though he or she may not realize it; and how it’s possible for a little boy to smuggle his new puppy into the classroom so he can surprise his teenage teacher. (And yes, hilarious pandemonium ensued for several minutes, until his mother could be summoned to retrieve the little pup.)

Most of all, although I did not fully appreciate or understand what I was seeing at the time, I got a closeup look at a couple of dedicated teachers who, in addition to managing their own classrooms, made sure their young aide did not fail herself or her pupils.

God bless the thousands upon thousands of teachers like them, who do their best to nurture and educate America’s children. And for God’s sake, let’s let them do their jobs.”

She hit this nail on the head.

Katie Boyd Britt Shows Her Backbone

At the moment, there are four declared candidates running in the May 2022 Republican primary to replace Senator Richard Shelby.

One is Huntsville congressman Mo Brooks who is known more for his loud mouth than any legislative accomplishments.  He is the epitome of a political “gadfly.”  A shining example of “all hat, no cows.”

Another is Montgomery businesswoman Lynda Blanchard who contributed a LOT of money to Donald Trump in 2016 and was rewarded with the ambassadorship to Slovenia.

Another is Jessica Taylor who ran for congress last year in the wiregrass and failed to make the runoff.

The fourth is Katie Boyd Britt, former CEO of the Business Council of Alabama and former chief of staff for Senator Shelby.

At this point, political handicappers think it will come down to a two-person race between Brooks and Britt.  A recent news release from Donald Trump, who has endorsed Brooks, gives credence to this line of thought.

Even though the election is more than nine months away, Trump has already attacked Britt.  Here is the essence of Trump’s statement according to AL.com:

“Former President Donald Trump today reaffirmed his endorsement of Rep. Mo Brooks to fill the U.S. Senate seat of the retiring Richard Shelby and attacked Shelby’s former chief of staff, Katie Britt.

Trump, in a statement, said Britt, who formerly served as president of the Business Council of Alabama, is “not what Alabama wants” for the Senate.

“She is not in any way qualified and is certainly not what our country needs,” Trump’s statement continued. “For Mitch McConnell to be wasting money on her campaign is absolutely outrageous. Vote for Mo Brooks!”

Responding to Trump’s statement, Britt said: “I don’t need anyone else to fight my battles, and as Alabama’s next U.S. Senator, I won’t be a rubber stamp for anyone. I am proud that over 90% of the $2.24 million we raised in June came from Alabamians, because that’s who I’ll be going to work for and representing every single day.

“What we’re seeing now is a reaction to the incredible momentum that continues to build for our campaign. My opponent (Brooks) is obviously panicked; he’s been in elected office for 40 years, but the people of Alabama are eager for a real conservative choice and someone who’s going to bring change to D.C. My opponent lost statewide in 2006. He lost again statewide in 2017. And he’s going to lose in 2022, because our Alabama First team is on the road to victory.”

Bully for Katie.

It’s high time we elect people in Alabama who stand on their own two feet and put the people of this state first.  As to “what Alabama wants,” I dare say that Kattie Boyd Britt, knows the needs and challenges of this state far better than Donald Trump does.

 

 

Another Candidate For U.S. Senate

The Republican primary to replace Senator Richard Shelby picked up another candidate this past week.  Jessica Taylor, a failed candidate in 2020 for the state’s open Second Congressional District, has decided to join Mo Brooks, Lynda Blanchard and Katie Boyd Britt.

          Go here to see Taylor’s video announcement.

While Taylor may have the best of intentions. her video leaves you screaming, IS THIS THE BEST WE CAN DO?

It is hokey. amateurish and relies on a well-worn message of hate to sow division–not cohesion.   In a nutshell, it is a                       example of once again drawing a line in the sand to appeal to our most base instincts, instead of being uplifting and                         appealing to our better angels.

Taylor obviously wants to be a Trump clone and “drain the swamp.”   But didn’t Trump already do that?  Or maybe I’m                       confusing draining the swamp with the wall at the southern border that Mexico paid for.

She also tells us she will be Vice-President Kamala Harris’  “worst nightmare.”  Which no doubt sent a chill through the V-P’s           spine when she heard it.  Taylor also intends to send the Democratic liberal agenda into outer space which includes $2                     billion. earmarked for Alabama public schools from Covid relief.  I’m sure your local school superintendent will be excited to             know Taylor does not support public education.

When Martha Roby stepped down from Congress recently, Taylor ran for her seat, finishing third in the GOP primary.  At that           time, she said she lived in Prattville.  However, she now says she is a businesswoman in Birmingham

In a time when this country is more divided at any time in decades, candidates like Taylor are the last thing we need.

 

Mo Brooks’ Ever-Changing Jan. 6 Story

Editor’s note: Republican Congressman Mo Brooks from Huntsville desperately wants to replace Senator Richard Shelby in
Washington.  He has had a vary lackluster career as a U.S. Housie member and is known more for his loud mouth than any good works.  The problem for him is that he tells so many lies, he has a hard time keeping trach of them.

Josh Moon, investigative reporter for The Alabama Political Reporter, details below how Brooks has continually changed his tale of what happened on Jan. 6th and his role in it all:

“In a court filing last Friday, Congressman Mo Brooks laid blame, at least partly, on former President Donald Trump for Brooks’ fiery speech at a Jan. 6 rally, at which Brooks told the crowd it was time to “take names and kick ass.” The filing claimed Brooks would not have been speaking at the rally if not for Trump’s invitation and said the content of the speech was cleared by the White House.

That filing came in response to a lawsuit filed by Rep. Eric Swalwell against Brooks and three others, including Trump, for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection that resulted in five deaths — including the death of a Capitol Police officer — and saw lawmakers fleeing for their lives as rioters roamed through the House and Senate chambers and rummaged through lawmakers’ offices.

Thanks to his speech, his involvement in the planning of the Trump rally and his insistence on pushing the “Big Lie” claim of massive voting fraud, Brooks has been a central figure in the national outrage over what was one of the ugliest scenes in the history of the country.

Brooks has run from the heat, offering an ever-changing list of excuses and explanations and blaming an odd assortment of people. Here’s how his story has shifted and changed over the past six months.

  • Antifa did it: The day after the Capitol attack, Brooks began pushing the bogus claim that antifa or some other “leftists” were responsible. His claim, which he tweeted, was this: “Evidence growing that fascist ANTIFA orchestrated Capitol attack with clever mob control tactics.” Of course, this fiction has been debunked numerous times, including by the FBI and by many of the rioters who were later arrested. Even right-wing media outlets pushed back on the absurd claim and Brooks soon after stopped saying it.
  • That’s right, I said it: Two days after the antifa lie, on Jan. 9, Brooks tried a new tactic — defiance: “I make no apology for doing my absolute best to inspire patriotic Americans to not give up on our country and to fight back against anti-Christian socialists in the 2022 and 2024 elections,” Brooks wrote to AL.com in a text message. The defiance would be short-lived.
  • I was talking about Democrats: During his defiant period, Brooks also landed on another talking point that he leaned on a few times: Claiming that his reference to an “ass” in his “kick ass” rally comments was referring to Democrats. The Democratic Party’s mascot is a donkey. Brooks claimed in the text to AL.com, and later in a lengthy statement rebutting a Democratic censure resolution, that he meant only that he wanted to beat Democrats — “kick ass” — at the polls. This angle would also be short-lived.
  • Proud Boys did it: In an abrupt 180, a month after proclaiming that he was proud to inspire “patriots” to act, Brooks claimed in a C-SPAN interview that the insurrection really wasn’t that bad — “… if you had 20 or 30 al-Qaeda suicidal types in there, it could have been a horrible scene,” he said — and that good MAGAs had been infiltrated by bad MAGAs. Specifically, Brooks said the Proud Boys, Boogaloo Bois and Oath Keepers were involved and that the attack was planned well in advance. He didn’t mention his reported role in planning the rally, but he did admit that antifa played no role.
  • Those fools did it: Later in March, Brooks told AL.com that the attack wasn’t his fault, but was instead “fools” who stormed the Capitol. Gone were the references to antifa and leftists. Brooks was no longer proud and defiant about his speech. In late March, Brooks said the rioters “hurt the Republican Party” and said “those fools” disrupted a debate about the election results. In reality, a group of people angered by repeated lies fed to them by Brooks and others temporarily disrupted the certification of the Electoral College results.
  • My constituents did it: In a court filing responding to Swalwell’s lawsuit, Brooks said his involvement in the Jan. 6 rally and riot was merely his way of best representing his constituents. Brooks claimed in the filing that he was only doing his job and representing “the will of my constituents” when he spread lies about voter fraud and encouraged the Jan. 6 mob to “kick ass” and be ready to fight and shed blood like our founders.
  • Trump did it: In the same court filing, Brooks also blamed the former president for his fiery speech. Brooks said in the court documents that he never would have been at that rally speaking had it not been for an invitation from the Trump White House. He also said that White House officials reviewed the contents of his speech. So, really, it was their fault for asking him to say what they knew he was going to say.”