A Request from Dana R. Casey for Material for Her New Book

DanaRCaseyI am a veteran high school English teacher with more than two decades in an east coast urban school system. I’ve taught in some of the best schools and some of the worst, and I can tell you unequivocally that education in America is in a terrible state. It is worse than most realize, especially in our urban systems in which regulations stifle the efforts of teachers to teach, where Political Correctness stifles content being taught, and where bad behavior too often impedes the process of learning for students, especially for the many sincere ones who genuinely want to learn. If we do not fix these problems, and fix them fast, maintaining the republic will become almost impossible, because, as Madison said, “The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.

Many believe that they have the solutions for fixing our schools. But, Democrats have it wrong; Republicans have it wrong; Pearson Education has it wrong; the average American has it wrong. Education has become a battleground and teachers are in the trenches with no cavalry on the horizon. Teachers have become so vilified in today’s environment that few Americans have thought of reaching out to those on the front line to discover the real problems and the real solutions.  Combat Diaries attempts to expose the realities as seen by one teacher, but experienced by many on the front lines of urban education in America.

I will be using many of my articles published on conservativeteachersofamerica.com, dcclothesline.com and freedomoutpost.com as a starting point. These will be expanded through research. From that point, I plan to expand into other areas of fundamental concern. For instance, I want to address the concept of “Keeping It Real or Making It Real” which challenges how narratives like those found in Walter Dean Myer’s popular books teach students as young as 6th grade that drug addiction, sexual activity, and suicide are societal norms, a dangerous lesson. I also intend to include historical data to examine the process of how public education is rapidly becoming a system of ideological indoctrination replacing of the free exchange and examination of ideas in the search for true learning.

As intelligent teachers you know that evidence from only one source (in this case me) is not strong, so I need evidence from others to strengthen the arguments. I need anecdotes that can be added to the topics listed below. Additionally, though it is tempting to only provide negative examples, examples of when things work are needed too. For instance, there are many tragic stories of the failure of special education inclusion (see The Tyranny of the Minority), but there are also times when it works. Anecdotes of both instances will make a stronger argument.

I know that teachers are often afraid to speak up and, in spite of the myth that we have an iron shield of tenure around us, administration can easily punish us by making our work lives so miserable that we will be driven out of our professions. There is also a fear of violating privacy policies. I promise complete anonymity to those who want it. I will never mention a school or a school district, but will only mention whether the school is in an urban, suburban, or rural area. I will also maintain privacy by asking teachers to NEVER provide a student’s name. I will create names for anecdotes, so only “Girl 1” or “Boy 2” as example should be used in anecdotes sent to me.

In advance I want to extend my gratitude to anyone willing to share their stories. I will gladly acknowledge any contribution as little or as much as each contributor desires. Hang tough my fellow teachers; life in the trenches can be hard and lonely.

Topic Suggestions (in no particular order):

  1. Where is the “money” for education really going? Money does not go to the classrooms or for students.
  2. The Intentional mis-education of students. Revisionist history, removing literature from the English classroom, yearly lowering of standards. Common Core Math
  3. Special Education Inclusion: Fear of lawsuits has made “special” students rule the classroom. Special education students are not getting the services that they need. The other students in the class suffer. Lowest common denominator becomes the norm.
  4. No more honors classes. Students with advanced or superior abilities are being under-served or completely ignored. Bored, unmotivated students.
  5. Rules matter, but too many times students are not expected to follow rules or even basic civil behavior
  6. How fear is the guiding factor of school policy. Fear of parents and students makes teachers unable to teach and classrooms unmanageable
  7. Administrators are more concerned with data than students
  8. The Race Card: Fear of seeming racist has destroyed education for blacks and destroyed most major American cities
  9. Social justice is misplaced and at times insidious “Compassion” destroying students’ ability to advance
  10. Learned helplessness
  11. Fear locked up wood shop, as well as eliminating much of the valuable “vocational training” of the past, that worked so well. NOT EVERYONE IS COLLEGE BOUND. IT ISN’T EVEN A GOOD IDEA!
  12. Throwing out the baby and other proven paradigms lost educational theory proposed by those with no classroom experience (see Arne Duncan) has gutted educators.
  13. Hiring consultants while firing teachers
  14. Teachers get a bad rap from media, but the biggest problem is with unions. Although true representation is not bad — needed sometimes — the unions charged with the responsibility to represent teachers are interested in their own existence and benefits, not in those they supposedly represent. They actually usually fail to support any individual teachers unless that teacher can be used to forward their own agenda. The unions do not care about student learning either.

Dana R. Casey is a veteran high school English teacher of more than two decades in an East-coast urban system.  She is a life-long student of theology, philosophy, and politics, dedicated to the true Liberalism of the Enlightenment, as defined by our Founders and enshrined in our Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. You can find out more about Dana over at http://www.candiddiscourse.com/.

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BOOK REVIEW: Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make it Harder for Blacks to Succeed by Jason L. Riley

StopHelpingUs5 of 5 Stars

Recommended for: Every conservative in America especially those that are interested in education.

Up until this year, I had never heard of Jason Riley. I listen to Benjamin Weingarten’s TheBlaze Books podcast (If you are a political and book nerd like me, then you need to be listening to this podcast!), and he had him on as a guest back in July. Weingarten had him on again in mid-August, on that episode they discussed Ferguson, Missouri.

I was incredibly impressed with Riley, and somehow or another, I ended up with an email and an offer to review the book. Time has gotten away from me, and I should have had this review done sooner.

I have always been fascinated at how the left has been able to capitalize and utilize black voters to their advantage. While they get their vote, they continue to promote policies that do nothing but harm black people. Put that in context of the fact that they were the party of slavery and Jim Crow, it is probably the most successful hoodwink in the history of our Republic.

Please Stop Helping Us is short in length, but long in implication and importance. In 175 pages and six short chapters, Riley tears apart the lunacy that is liberal special interest politics. Well-cited, and filled with personal stories to contextualize his topic, Riley presents an engaging read that challenges so many stereotypes and fictions that Americans wrongfully believe.

Riley states in the introduction:

This book examines the track record of the political left’s serial altruism over the past half century. Have popular government policies and programs that are aimed at helping blacks worked as intended? And where the black advancement has occurred, do these government efforts deserve the credit that they so often receive?…In theory these efforts [welfare, minimum wage, affirmative action, soft on crime laws, and a mistaken belief school choice is harmful] are meant to help. In practice they become barriers to moving forward. Please Stop Helping Us lays bare these counterproductive results.

Chapter one, Black Man in the White House, takes a look at the implication of Barack Obama’s election as President in the historical context of black political history.

Chapter two, Culture Matters, is a brave chapter. Riley uses his own personal narrative to approach the issue of black culture. Riley first discusses absentee fathers within the black community. While his mother and father did not remain together, Riley had a father that was present and involved in his life.

“And though they couldn’t save their marriage, my parents were resolved to save their kids. What this meant in practice was that they tried, with mixed results, to minimize the impact of America’s black subculture on their children.”

Riley was the only one of four siblings to escape this culture. Sadly, Riley lost two of his siblings to drugs and his older sister became a single mom.

Riley enjoyed school, and the byproduct of this was that Riley was picked on by other blacks and members of his own family. He tells a story of his nine-year-old niece attacking his proper speech, “Why you talk white, Uncle Jason?” Turning to her friend, she continued, “Don’t my uncle sound white? Why he trying to sound so smart?” Somehow black culture has equated white with being intelligent and learned.

Riley moves on from his personal narrative to a discussion of the impact of black culture on the educational performance of black people. Pulling heavily from educational studies, Riley paints a picture of black culture that is ignorant to the importance of education and destroying itself from the inside out.

“Black cultural attitudes toward work, authority, dress, sex, and violence have also proven counterproductive, inhibiting the development of the kind of human capital that has lead to socioeconomic advancement for other groups…A culture that takes pride in ignorance and mocks learnedness has a dim future.

Black culture today not only condones delinquency and thuggery but celebrates it to the point where black youths have adopted jail fashion in the form of baggy, low-slung pants and oversize T-shirts. Hip-hop music immortalizes drug dealers and murderers.”

Chapter three, The Enemy Within, takes a look at the issues of crime inside of the black community. Riley once again starts out with personal anecdotes about encounters with law enforcement. While frustrating, Riley once again courageously puts the blame on the reality of the situation. In this case, we are referring to high black crime rates. Riley states, “The black inmate population reflects black criminality, not a racist criminal justice system.” The chapter is full of statistical evidence that bolsters Riley’s position. As Riley says in his conclusion of the chapter, “The stark racial differences in crime rates undoubtedly impact black-white relations in America. So long as they persist, young black men will make people nervous. Discussions about the problem can be useful if they are honest, which is rare.”

Chapter four, Mandating Unemployment, is a brilliant look at the issue of minimum wage in the context of racial history in America. I never knew the link between unions, racism, and minimum wage laws. This chapter is damning to one of the most successful myths the left has managed to perpetrate in this country. Survey research continues to show Americans support additional increases in the minimum wage. Minimum wage laws are incredibly harmful to the poor, and as Riley demonstrates, they are significantly harmful to black Americans. This is probably my favorite chapter in the whole book.

Chapter five, Educational Freedom, takes a look at the education system and its effects on black Americans. Riley looks at how successful choice programs (vouchers and charters) despite union opposition, are making a difference in some of the poorest communities in New York City. Riley closes this chapter with a brief look at historically black colleges and universities.

The final chapter of the book examines the left’s sacred cow, affirmative action. Not only must liberals help, they must social engineer to right all wrongs. Consistent in form, Riley equipped with research destroys the myth of affirmative action. I’ve always suspected this practice has done little to better minorities in our society, and this chapter reinforced that belief. Since 1960 the black middle class has failed to grow any more rapid than prior to 1960. In 1970, 33.5% of blacks were below the poverty line and in 1990 that number was still at 31.9%. Riley also discusses the effect of affirmative action on colleges in this chapter.

This review has gone on a bit long than I like to make them, but I loved this book and wanted you to get a feel of what was inside it. This is one of those books that make liberals incredibly angry because it presents the truth of their ugly manipulation of a special interest group. Go get a copy of his book and read it for yourself!

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Excerpt from The Lucky Star House of Celestial Pleasures by Hank Kellner

Hank Kellner is a retired associate professor of English. He is the author of 125 Photos for English Composition Classes (J. Weston Walch, 1978); Terror at Mirror Lake (Smashwords, 2013); I Don’t Wanna Be an Orange Anymore (Smashwords, 2013); The Taste of Appalachia (Smashwords 2013); How to Be a Better Photographer (J. Weston Walch, 1980), Write What You See (Prufrock Press, 2010), and, with Elizabeth Guy Reflect and Write: 300 Poems and Photographs to Inspire Writing Prufrock Press, 2013). His other writings and photographs have appeared in hundreds of publications nationwide.

Politically incorrect in every way, The Lucky Star House of Celestial Pleasures by Hank Kellner pokes fun at just about every aspect of our society. Reminiscent of the writings of Voltaire and other great satirists, this novel takes the reader on a rollicking journey that spares no person or institution as it satirizes both men and women with all their warts and blemishes.

After Winston Finn’s wife of many years leaves him to live with her girlfriend in Mississippi, the distraught retired stockbroker decides to travel and see the world. Early on, he meets Liberty Belle, a young former army nurse and airline flight attendant. Because Winston and Liberty have similar interests, they decide to embark on their journey together.

During their travels, they encounter such characters as Father Flanagan and his conversion extraordinaire, Olivia Stockton and the Society for the Prevention of Erotic Relationships with Men (SPERM); Captain Fung Goo and the Chinese pirates; Alandra the Moon Goddess; Willa Catheter and Captain Hashimototo; and a host of others

At one point in the novel, Liberty—or Libby as she prefers to be called—relates how she was captured by Captain Fung Goo; sold into slavery at the Lucky Star House of Celestial Pleasures in Thailand; and eventually escaped while at the same time taking revenge on her nemesis, General Mortimer (Kickass) Shostakapulski.

At the conclusion of the novel, three terrorists from Paducastan who are guest students at a community college in New York kidnap our hero and heroine, spirit them away to a remote cabin in the woods, and plan to train them to become suicide bombers. But when Libby outwits Abdul bin Pasquelante, Mohammed bin Rashid, and Mahmud bin Pudendum; the two travelers are able to escape.

In this excerpt from the novel, Winston and Libby meet Helen Millston, Libby’s former high school English teacher, who has been railroaded out of her job and now earns a living as a car thief.

The Lucky Star House of Celestial Pleasures is available as an Ebook at Amazon, Smashwords, and other outlets.

The Amazing Journey of Winston Finn and Liberty Belle (Part One)

Chapter Nine

Helen Millston, Car Thief

We passed through the kitchen and into a narrow alley at the rear of the deli. Puffing and panting like a long distance runner who was out of shape, I followed Libby through the alley and toward the spot where we had parked the Honda.

“Hey,” cried Libby when we were about thirty feet away from the car, “do you see what I see?”

“Yes, I do. It looks like someone’s trying to break into your car!”

Quick as lightning, Libby sprinted toward the shadowy figure and started pounding him on the side of his head with her fists. “Get out of here, you creep!” she shouted, “You’re not getting my car.”

Almost out of breath, I followed as closely as I could.

“Ouch! Stop! You’re hurting me,” shrieked the thief in a high-pitched voice as he turned around and began to fight back. I could see fists flailing the air and landing on Libby with enough force to do some damage.

I knew that if I didn’t do something right away, Libby could get hurt. “All right, cut it out,” I said in my most commanding voice.

Then I moved in behind the thief and wrapped my arms around him. But when I felt two mounds of flesh where I should have felt nothing, I was so surprised I almost let go.

“Oh, my gosh,” I blurted, “It’s a woman.”

“Let go of me, you pervert,” shouted my captive.

Libby stepped back, squinted through the darkness for a few moments, and said, “Let her go, Winston. I know her.” Then she moved closer and touched the woman’s face with her fingertips. “Good grief,” she whispered. “Ms. Millston? Is it really you?”

“Libby? Libby Belle?” asked the other woman. “I can’t believe this. Is it really you?”

Almost before I could unwrap my arms from around the car thief, Libby embraced her, and the two women began to laugh and cry and giggle and jump up and down and tell their life stories at the same time.

After a while, they stopped. “Winston,” proclaimed Libby, “this is my old high school English teacher, Ms. Helen Millston.”

I thought that meeting a high school English teacher who was also a car thief was stretching the imagination a bit. But after I thought for a moment about what I’d seen and heard during the past few days, it really didn’t surprise me.

Ms. Millston smiled and said, “Former English teacher, Libby. I was fired last year after sixteen years in the trenches.” She leaned against the Honda, lit a cigarette, and smiled. “Oh, don’t look so shocked. As a matter of fact, I make more money as a car thief than I did as a teacher. And that’s counting the extra $250 a year I made by serving as faculty advisor to the school newspaper. By the way, you can call me Helene.”

Libby reached out and hugged Helen so hard I thought she’d explode. “You were fired? Why? How? I don’t believe it! You were the best. You brought Shakespeare to life. You made 18th Century poetry understandable. You read Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in the original Middle English! You were the only teacher who made sense out of chaos. You even won the Engteoty Award two years in a row!”

“What’s the Engteoty Award?” I asked.

Helen scratched her ear and tipped her head to one side. “Engteoty is an acronym for the English Teacher of the Year Award. It’s presented by Johstengananal— the Journal of High School Teachers of English, Advisors to Newspapers, and Authors of Numerous Articles about Literature.”

To be continued

 

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