Choose: Assault Weapons Or Children

This is my favorite work of art in my home.  The child’s face is full of receptivity and joy, and the mother looks at her child with delight. They are truly connected.

That painting reminds me not only of my joy in parenting my own three children but also reminds me of the joy I found in helping adolescents in my classes to fall in love with reading literature and fall in love with being a writer. The painting speaks to me of nurturing. The painting speaks to me of the deep value of the kind of connection in which adults foster growth in children and delight in doing it.

But Russ Walsh, a noted educator and writer, emphatically states that we as a country do not value nurturing children, do not value that kind of connection between ourselves as adults and all the children of our country. He makes a strong argument that, as a nation, we do not, in fact, care about our children. He says:

The continued gun violence visited upon America’s schools and school children, along with the abject failure of the adults who run the country to do anything about it, leads me to one inescapable conclusion: In the United States of America, we don’t care about our children. When I say “our children” here, I am referring to children in general, not individual children. As the grieving parents in Florida today will attest, we all care about our own children. What we do not seem to care about is all the other children.

I urge you to read the whole of Russ Walsh’s piece. The three statistics he quotes will convince you of how our nation has not cared for our children. .

He goes on to say:

The only way to explain the lack of action on gun violence in the schools is that we value our right to bear arms more than we value our children. Politicians seem to be unable to even have a conversation about bringing gun proliferation under control. Our founding fathers, I am sure, did not mean for the second amendment to require that we were to remain impotent in protecting our children from guns in the hands of society’s disaffected. Surely. “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” means freedom from fear of being shot in your own classroom. Surely the right to bear arms is a limited right, just as every other right enumerated in the Bill of Rights is limited by the simple fact that the unfettered exercise of that right could endanger others. So we have no right to cry, “Fire!” in a crowded theater and no right to refuse to wear a seat belt and we have even decided to give up the right to smoke in public places. Surely we can all do without the right to carry an AR-15 around with us.

It’s time. In fact, it’s more than time; it’s way, way, way overdue. It’s time for all responsible Americans to join with the outraged students from Parkland. It’s time to show those heartbroken, articulate young people that they and their teachers matter, that the Sandy Hook children and their teachers and principal matter. It’s time to say that 239 school shootings since Sandy Hook in which 438 people were shot and 138 people killed is enough. It’s time to tell the world that the United States of America does, indeed, value everyone’s children.

A way to begin:

Please join Russ Walsh, me, and all educators to say that we, as a nation, will finally, at long last, nurture all of our children. Come out with your neighbors, friends, and children and join the National Day of Action Against Gun Violence on April 20 (The anniversary of the Columbine shooting).

You can sign up here.

A New Year’s Resolution: Justice For Kids

As we are thinking up our New Year’s resolutions, how about justice for our kids?

National standards do not make for justice. Multiple choice testing does not make for justice. Ignoring the effects of race and poverty on children’s ability to learn does not make for justice.

Kids’ backgrounds are not equal. Their test scores will never be equal. But their education can be equitable if we help all students to grow from where the are and to develop fully as engaged learners and strong thinkers .

Intentions matter. Let’s resolve in 2018 to educate all kids, not just test them.

Please watch this two minute video:

Required For Ed Secretary: Integrity

In addition to showing incredible lack of knowledge about the basics of K-12 education at her confirmation hearing, Betsy DeVos lied about her involvement in the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation that gives million of dollars to anti-gay organizations and to causes of the extreme religious right.

At that confirmation hearing, Betsy DeVos stated that it was “a clerical error” that she was listed as a Vice President of the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation. Carol Burris of the Network for Public Education reports that her statement about a clerical error is not plausible. The 990PF forms of the Foundation from 1998 until the latest filing, which is 2014, list Elizabeth (Betsy) DeVos as Vice President.

According to Michigan law, any foundation, including private foundations, must undergo an independent financial audit during a year that the foundation receives in excess of $500,000 in contributions. In 2012, the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation received nearly $19 million in contributions and was audited.

Information about board officers must be provided for an audit. There is a review of all board members’ names and contact information. If Betsy DeVos’s name had been “inadvertently listed” by error for fourteen years, it would have been discovered in that independent audit. The audited tax returns are posted on the Network for Public Education website.

Betsy DeVos didn’t tell the truth to the Senate committee. The Secretary of Education should have unquestioned integrity.

If Senators vote to confirm Betsy DeVos, it will tell a sad story to America’s children. Unfortunately, it will be only one of several sad stories since the election of Donald Trump.