The Dead Collector: Bring out yer dead.
Large Man with Dead Body: Here’s one.
The Dead Collector: That’ll be ninepence.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m not dead.
The Dead Collector: What?
Large Man with Dead Body: Nothing. There’s your ninepence.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m not dead.
The Dead Collector: ‘Ere, he says he’s not dead.
Large Man with Dead Body: Yes he is.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m not.
The Dead Collector: He isn’t.
Large Man with Dead Body: Well, he will be soon, he’s very ill.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m getting better.
NEW YEAR’S DAY, 2022
I wasn’t able to breathe and gasped for air. They moved me to the ambulance…wheeled me into the hospital…someone cut off my shirt (one of my favorite tee shirts!) and inserted an IV in my arm. I don’t remember much else for the next few days.
On January 1, 2022, I went to the hospital, was diagnosed with COVID-19, and spent the next seven weeks in the hospital and in rehab. At first, I was on a ventilator — which prompted the ER doctor to tell my spouse that she should call our kids and have them come home to say goodbye to their father. I spent about a week in the ICU, then time in the COVID-19 Unit, and then another three and a half weeks in rehab to rebuild my strength and regain some of the forty pounds I had lost (not a recommended weight loss plan!).
Drifting in and out of consciousness, I thought “if this is what dying is, it’s not so bad. I should just let go.” Of course, I had the benefit of pain-killers, sedatives, and paralytics so I didn’t really know what was happening to me.
Later, in the ICU, I couldn’t get out of bed. I was unable to move enough to get up. I was too weak to stand. I couldn’t move from the bed to a chair. I couldn’t lift my legs onto the bed. It was a helpless, and humbling experience.*
Thankfully, my body, modern medicine, and, according to the doctor, the COVID-19 vaccines, conspired to keep me alive until I could improve a bit. I decided that it was worth it to hang on so that I could experience more of life. Like the Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t in the scene above, I’m getting better!
Unfortunately (or the way 2022 is going so far, perhaps “fortunately”), I was unable to keep up with the news and unable to update my blog for the first three months of 2022, but I’m getting better…so I’m back.
CATCHING UP ON THE NEWS
One of the reasons I got so sick from COVID-19 is because I’m immunocompromised and have “underlying conditions” which make me more susceptible to illness. I was vaccinated, wore a mask everywhere, avoided crowds and unvaccinated people, and stayed out of stores. It wasn’t enough and the highly contagious variant got me (I assume it was Omicron since that was the variant that was going around at the time). There are millions of immunocompromised folks in the U.S. It’s to keep us safe that you wear a mask and get vaccinated. Maybe this will help you understand…
COLLATERAL DAMAGE — THE IMMUNOCOMPROMISED
Millions of Americans with weakened immune systems, disabilities or illnesses that make them especially vulnerable to the coronavirus have lived this way since March 2020, sequestering at home, keeping their children out of school and skipping medical care rather than risk exposure to the virus. And they have seethed over talk from politicians and public health experts that they perceive as minimizing the value of their lives.
As Year 3 of the pandemic approaches, with public support for precautions plummeting and governors of even the most liberal states moving to shed mask mandates, they find themselves coping with exhaustion and grief, rooted in the sense that their neighbors and leaders are willing to accept them as collateral damage in a return to normalcy.
Now for some of the articles…on the topics…that filled education news while I was gone…
RACISM IN SCHOOL
One of the biggest educational/political uproars this year was, and is, Critical Race Theory. It’s not being “taught” in our elementary and secondary schools, but it’s premise, that racism is inherent in our lives and intersects with the law and society is proven by our history.
Racism is part of the U.S. Constitution. It didn’t disappear with the Emancipation Proclamation, or with the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments, or with various voting rights and civil rights legislation. It still sours and poisons our nation and by extension, our schools and our children.
In modern times, “New Racism” arose; concealed, more subtle, and much harder to detect, this New Racism operates deep under the radar. The Black Lives Matter Movement and the looming Trump administration have propelled the conversation of race and racial issues to the forefront of American consciousness. It is argued, however, that while these conversations are crucial, we are not recognizing the systemic racism that has been present in our educational system for decades. Racism is so deeply innate that it is believed that racism no longer exists in our country. But in our public schools, another story is being told.
In this New Racism, blame for underachieving students of color is shifted to their parents, who are portrayed as slacking or uninvolved with their children’s education. This shifts attention away from the policies and structures in action that put a student of color at a disadvantage.
If books can turn kids gay, why didn’t the gay kids who read books about straight kids turn heterosexual?
The books can be burned, but the ideas will survive.
But Republican leaders in Florida are acting like books are turning children gay, socialist or whatever group they’re marginalizing or villainizing this week. The GOP-controlled Legislature passed a bill making it easier to ban books from school libraries.
In signing the measure into law last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis said “it’s going to help give parents a lot of confidence that they can send their kids to school and they’ll get an education but they’re not necessarily going to be indoctrinated into things that are very, very questionable.”
THIRD GRADE PUNISHMENT PLANS
The focus of this blog has often been directed at the misuse and overuse of standardized testing, and retention in grade. The two topics come together in laws passed by states that require schools to hold students back a grade if they don’t pass the state’s arbitrary third-grade standardized reading test.
There’s no research indicating we should be hurrying
children to read early, which started with No Child Left Behind (NCLB), or earlier. Formal reading used to begin in first grade. But with NCLB, formal reading instruction has been pushed down to kindergarten. It has become the norm.
NCLB, however, was poorly conceived. Those who wrote NCLB chose third grade as a pivotal year. Yet, studies from years ago indicated NCLB failed to increase reading achievement in fourth grade (Dee & Jacob, 2011).
Supporters of this policy promised at the time, that by following punitive accountability measures all third graders would read at grade level by 2014! That did not occur (here are excuses why) and children, who are told not to have any excuses, have been paying the price ever since.
Where will tomorrow’s teachers come from? Who will staff our schools?
Often in education we hear that teachers are burned out, but that isn’t quite accurate. As teacher demoralization expert Doris Santoro says, “burnout tells the wrong story about the kinds of pain educators are experiencing because it suggests that the problem lies within individual teachers themselves.” Those outside education assume that the teacher can’t hack it in the classroom. But in reality, teachers are forced to operate in systems that aren’t functioning properly, which makes teachers feel demoralized, discouraged and overwhelmed. According to Santoro, demoralization occurs because teachers “care deeply about students and the profession, and they realize that school policies and conditions make it impossible for them to do what is good, right and just.”
Finally, it’s baseball season…and this season marks the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s major league, barrier-breaking debut. Racism was present when the country was founded. It was present after the failure of Reconstruction. It was present during the Jim Crow era which includes the 1947 integration of Major League baseball. It’s present today (see RACISM IN SCHOOL, above).
April 15, 1947: Jackie Robinson’s major league debut
This article was written by Lyle Spatz
Jackie Robinson’s major league debut was more than just the first step in righting an historical wrong. It was a crucial event in the history of the American civil rights movement, the importance of which went far beyond the insular world of baseball.
The Dodgers signed Robinson to a major league contract just five days before the start of the 1947 season. Baseball people, especially those in Brooklyn, were still digesting the previous day’s news of manager Leo Durocher’s one-year suspension (for conduct detrimental to baseball), when the story broke of Robinson’s promotion from the Montreal Royals. He would be the first black American to play in the major leagues since catcher Moses Fleetwood Walker played for the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association back in 1884.
*[NOTE: Thank you to all the nurses, nurses aides, and medical techs who took care of me during the first few months of 2022. You don’t get paid enough! Oh, and the doctors are appreciated, too.]