The March meeting of the Board of Public Education (BOPE) began, as usual with awards, marking the beginning of the spring trophy season. This month it was student athletes and band members. Two to five or six young musicians were singled out from the middle and high schools, along with several state champion wrestlers. The most outstanding young man holds both the first and second place in all-time county undefeated streaks (54 & 52) at his weight. His principal echoed the sentiment of anyone who has ever competed: “If I wrestled at your weight young man, I would eat my way to a higher one as quickly and regularly as I could.” A power outage interrupted the awards for a couple of minutes. It wasn’t the only shortage of power on Fourth Avenue last Monday.
BOPE member Lisa Edwards took her comment time to cite, while complaining of some media reports comparing our fifteen year-olds to “other countries” kids, an unnamed test done in 1998, and another unnamed and of unknown date, whose results showed American students of some unspecified age, doing not as badly versus “Asian people” as they did on the 2009 PISA given by the OECD. She also said that in whatever it was she cited, said that Americans did better than “Asians” on more complex math problems. That seemed awfully weak, pretty desperate, and “not as bad as” is cold comfort at best. But at least five (5) board members joined in head bobbling agreement with the “wonderful news”. I can remember a time when it was commonly believed that while some certain athletes might excel at running and jumping, and throwing, they could never be quarterbacks, or pitchers, and catchers which requires higher mental faculties; and, of course, they could never manage teams and certainly not be President.
That is just the kind of brain-dead, bobble heads in the sand that we don’t need overseeing our children’s education. Ms. Edwards and her bobbling colleagues might, before dismissing the US’s poor performance on the PISA, consider first, that 30 countries beat us in math; it isn’t just “Asians” who are out-teaching and out-school managing us. We were trounced by those international power players, Latvia, Estonia, and Luxemburg too, along with 27 others including not a few Asian countries. Second, the Chinese invented imperial governance, the first organized long distance trade, written language, blue water sailing, gun powder, and observational astronomy, and seem to have us surrounded in the cyber war that is going on right now. Richard Strothers writes of the supernova of 185CE, that Romans merely wrote sketchy reports of “celestial portents” while the Chinese, who carried on court-sponsored systematic observations of the sky and recorded and reported them, made detailed records of the “guest star” of 185CE in the Book of Han during that dynasty. Ms. Edwards, et al, might consider a rethink of any careless dismissal of “Asian” computational and organizational abilities.
The Judge Speaks On Security in School
Emily Cowan, mother of three and Judge of District Court 29B, came before the BOPE at the time for public comment. She made an emotional appeal for the formation of a task force of citizens and system representatives to develop a well thought out set of policies, procedures and plans to fit each of our schools. She had the passion of a worried mom and the determination of a committed officer of the court. She cited how her daughter has been told to stay in her classroom if there is trouble, and related how that was the plan at Sandy Hook also. She said her daughter knows to obey the adults and will stay as told right through the muzzle flashes.
Cowan reminded the BOPE that 17 kids were killed in the library at Columbine 20 minutes after the first shot was fired, because there was no plan to evacuate or dispersal directions. Sitting still and hoping for the best is not what adults would do confronted with an evil killer. They would leave at, if you pardon the expression, a dead run. But our schools are more worried about being sued by a mom whose kid trips while running away and skins her elbows, than a room full of shot up kindergarteners. Judge Cowan noted BOPE member Mary Louise Corn was quoted in the morning paper as saying “We can never make the schools perfectly safe” and “Chairperson” Bazzle is reported to have said, apparently without irony, that he is; “Dead set against allowing guns in schools.”
Corn’s implication is that we shouldn’t spend too much valuable time on this. That is a dangerous complacency that courts a tragic future. If honestly airing the topic is too tough for anyone, they need to take the very real possibilities more seriously; and remember that nothing between heaven and hell will be sure to stop armed evil men except armed good men and women; trained, willing, and able. Superintendent Jones said as much on Monday, that we needed a long conversation about armed people in schools and that they had to be trained. He will get little disagreement on that from serious people. The conversation has started; the task force will be formed with Judge Cowan as the first volunteer. Nothing should be off the table except thoughtless complacency and empty claims of what we are already doing. The subject demands a serious fresh beginning and thorough, thoughtful and complete consideration. Evil and insanity visits elementary (have you noticed too that the brave adult killers choose little children?) schools and other “gun free” places run by ‘feel good’ idiots. Police friends have told me that in securing one’s house he should look at it and think like a burglar. That seems like good advice.
We will discuss the school finance and security ideas again after we have reported on the spending by our schools the last five years and on this year’s proposed budget. The Tribune hopes you will discuss with your friends and neighbors, some of these ideas, or some of your own, to contribute to solving the K-12 crisis, share your thinking with the task force and, if you wish, pass them along to us. Task Force contact information should be made public soon. If you have private concerns on school issues including school security, that need to be aired publicly, contact me with complete confidence in our respect for your privacy at: Bill@tribunepapers.com or BillOhSee@gmail.com or call 828 890-0412.