You may remember the old Roadrunner cartoons where Wile E. Coyote, distracted by his mad pursuit of his prey, runs right off the edge of a cliff before pausing in mid-air. Oddly, he’s fine as long as he doesn’t look down and notice the reality of his situation.
Public education has been overlooking – or worse, neglecting – a golden opportunity to improve. It’s not only been right in front of us all along, it’s been kicking us and taking our lunch money! And yet, somehow, where we should have recognized an opportunity, all we’ve seen is a competitor. In some cases, maybe even a threat.
It's dangerous to start pushing a book when I haven't seen the physical final product yet. I learned last time that no matter how many weird formatting issues, overlooked typos, and random nude shots you're POSITIVE you've resolved, there are always a few more waiting to be discovered once you've started promoting the thing and your entire sense of self-worth is on the line. And yet, I'm pretty happy this one is finally "live," no matter what minor edits may be necessary down the road...
Three Big Things:
1. Barbed wire became the fencing of choice in the west after the Civil War. It was relatively cheap, withstood a wide range of conditions, and held back the biggest, most stubborn livestock.
2. Barbed wire favored homesteaders moving west, who tended to be small farmers. It threatened, and eventually helped destroy, the mythical “open range” and cowboy culture.
3. Barbed wire is rarely asked about specifically in history standards; it’s central to a wide variety of stuff that is, however.
There’s a difference between caring how well you’re actually doing your job and caring how well you do on official evaluations. Ideally, the two at least overlap - like a Venn Diagram or pop and hip-hop. That’s not always a given, however. In practice, it’s often more like the relationship between reality and reality TV.
While it was not always mentioned by name, several major decisions of the Court in the early 21st century very much involved the history and potential future of the “Blaine Amendment.” Blaine is a general label applied to various provisions in 37 different state constitutions limiting or prohibiting the use of state funds to support religious organizations or sectarian activity. The precise wording and application vary from state to state, and 13 states don’t have one at all. Most Blaine Amendments are actually sections or clauses in their respective state constitutions and not “amendments” at all, but the term has proven persistent. Plus, it’s used in the singular (collectively) or plural more or less interchangeably – so that’s kinda fun.
General, brief references to the Almighty have been a part of innumerable American traditions since long before the First Amendment was an ink spot on James Madison’s parchment. It has thus been difficult at times for the Court to reconcile the proverbial “wall of separation” with a history demonstrating that the authors of the sentiment obviously didn’t mean everything. Unlike compromises over slavery or state vs. federal power, there’s no evidence the Framers willingly kicked this constitutional can down the road for their scions to sort out. They simply saw no conflict between a reasonable degree of religious acknowledgement in public life while shielding personal faith from the machinery of government.
This particular case involves the hiring and firing of private school teachers in religious schools. What I'm currently wrestling with is an apparent contradiction between how the Court treats private religious schools when it comes to school choice ("hey, these are just schools doing school things for valid school reasons like any other schools, except they happen to have a religious point of view... give them all the tax money or it's religious discrimination") and how it treats the same religious schools when they're firing teachers for being old or getting sick ("hey, these are religious institutions whose whole function is spreading their faith... you can't hold them accountable for anything they do or else it's religious discrimination"). Now, let me be clear – I realize it's certainly not that simple. The devil is in the--
Actually, that's probably not an appropriate idiom with this specific topic. Sorry about that.
I’m not sure I want my students to succeed.
How’s that for an attention-grabber? Now I'll skillfully jump back and lay the foundation for such an outrageous claim and hope it’s enough to keep you reading until we reach it again further on.
We’ll soon hit a full year of trying to figure out how public education works (or doesn’t) during a pandemic. Some of the experience gained may be specific to 2020 – the social and political dynamics of which have not been even remotely encouraging (see what I did there?).