Those Who do not Learn from History.....are Doomed, eh BOEHMER??

NOW I know why we have a president!

For most of my politically conscious youth (starting around 10? - no, it was 8-9, during the Carter v. Reagan presidential campaign, I began to wonder why we have a president anyway? I mean, we don't like kings right? That's why we left England in 1492, right??

Gotcha!

I didn't exactly have the gestalt QUITE put together back then, and in my 16th year into my career in k-12 education, I know enough about the history of U.S. education to understand one of the reasons I was so confused back then: history was not presented as a story of humanity, as it should be. It was treated like a collection of hundred and thousands of disparate facts - unconnected dots, that we just had to consume by rote and boring OVER-activitied lessons (in my opinion as a person with NVLD, who doesn't NEED the bells and whistles to entice my curiosity - I need to know WHY I'm studying what I'm studying). Cluttering up the learning process by a teacher's pedantic attempt at SHOWING everybody BUT her students HOW much teaching she's doing - ain't teaching, my friends. It's "playing teacher" and making sure you tow the "now" trend of the pedagoical pendulum.

Teaching isn't hard, folks. Ahhh - put down your bats and chainsaws, pedagogues - and listen. Teaching - teaching is NOT hard! It's everything else - managing a classroom, multi-tasking (which is a ridiculous misnomer anyway as there is NO SUCH THING!), the endless paper shuffle BEYOND evaluating the work your students have produced - kissing enough colleague ass to stay in your peers' good graces (and networks), adjusting like some superhuman chameleon to the ever-changing standards or, in today's lingo "curriculum frameworks" just so that an acceptable percentage of your district's students can pass some ill-conceived and arbitrary test, formatted and formulated and ultimately produ$$$ed by non-educators, politicians, and specialty vendors in some lame-ass, lame-brained p.r. stunt and camera-aware soundbite in which some ladder-climbing "community leader" - educational administrator or politician, most likely - or some peroxide-toothed mouthpiece/spokesperson of their choosing, makes the grand pronouncement of "holding teachers accountable" - THAT's the hard stuff. That's the bullshit that sends many a pure heart out of the classroom and into some telemarketting cubicle or retail floor bemoaning their inability to "play the game" - and rightfully somewhat proudly.

No, no. TEACHING is about being so damned curious and passionate about something to know it bloody freakin' cold and down to the bone marrow. Being excited enough about it, and about children, to just ITCH to infect them with your excitement for the subject by letting them KNOW how much you love the stuff - AND them! - and why, what you're gonna teach them, AND ****PRE-EMPTIVELY**** setting yours and their focus on how the pieces are fitting together. You present the skeleton, carefully and passionately and patiently, then LEAD the students on the adventure of filling in the pieces and THEN, in your "culmunating activity" damned well do the panoramic "step back" to see the big picture in all the glory that had YOU so jazzed about it in the first place!

Cutting out a picture of Jefferson, pasting it (yep, paste was the kid's adhesive du jour from the mid 70s to mid 80s) onto slightly larger construction paper in a "chance to express my creativity" by choosing the color of the frame as well as coloring Mr. Jeffersons bust* in a tree-munching practice of mounting paper onto paper, and writing some unchecked "facts" about this important man, is THE way to mess up even a smart kid's (yeah - I'm refering to my own sweet little self) mind.

Be all that as it may, it was around this time, and ever more pronounced during Mrs. Reagan's 'Just Say No' crusade that my (to be discovered after the fact) blue-hued brain cells and soul began to develop a context fo life and morals and behavior and society and public law and all that stuff.

By then, I had heard of this thing called "checks and balances" and of the 3 branches of the United States government (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial). I was aware of the two major political parties and that one was the so-called child-like idealist that wanted to solve all the world's problems, and then clasp hands in an Earthwide, simultaneous choral rendering of Kumbaya, and the other was the "parent" of the country that held the wallet, managed the morals and household, pretended not to party or have fun, and smoked their cigarettes and drank their adult drinks after the kiddies have gone to bed (at a time determined for the parents' convenience, NOT the child's developing/stage-based sleep needs, or did the aforementioned indulgences while faux-sad/hardened and wisely preaching "do as I say, not as I do".

Anyway, not sure when my "leftie" soul found me, but I've been an avid "citizen-student" ever since.

But I still couldn't figure out why we had a *president*??? If we're a democracy, well then damn it, either make our law and our decisions by popular vote, or, perhaps more efficiently, via the body of elected representatives (albeit many of each with their own rock-solid red or blue tinge) who are charged with representing the American public at large, and making the policies and decisions that make America work, ACCORDING TO AMERICA'S and AMERICAN'S ideals and prerogatives.

It is the "recent history" (which I define as my now 21 years of seasoned "legal" adulthood") that has clued me in to the malfunctions and malfeasance of the body politic oathed to serve to citizens as a whole, and represent the collective principals and aspirations they and we hold.

Unfortunately, the process of (two) opposing sides hashing things out on the congressional floor, and sometimes on golf courses, in bars and bedrooms, and in the 21st century, the digital equivalents of all of them, does NOT always produce results. Our current angst - and the stink of indecision and tension waftng through the American air, is NOT the first in our history.

Nevermind the monumental waste and ridiculousness of "Monica-gate" (circa 1998), in which the collective representation of the American people saw fit to drain fiscal, intellectual, emotional, and temporal resources to pry into the primal urges and actions of president Clinton, a matter more suitably handled by a divorce attorney, or Hillary and a pair of scissors. But no - that butt-plug of a limelight seeker Kenneth Starr HAD to press on and be on camera and in the news as long as possible. Grr.....

Anyway, let's instead harken back to a slightly more recent disaster of governmental leaderSLIP, and the Republican and Newt-Gingrich led government shut down of 1995. In this shining example of democracy at...well...NOT at work, a tiff between President Bill Clinton, D. and Speaker Newt Gingrich, R. (hmmm.....sound kinda familiar??) over funding for Medicair, education, public health, then environment - in other words "ssdd - same shit, different decade" - Clinton had vetoed the spending bill that Congress sent him. Thereupon, the whole of our federal government put non-essential government workers on "furlough" (cute, huh?) and suspended non-essential services from November 14 through November 19, 1995 and from December 16, 1995 to January 6, 1996.

I look back at those events, and what nonsense is going on today - and suddenly, like, as I was driving home from work today with my usual 'NPR accompinament about the....the....um...NON progress being made in Washington. I had gotten an email eariler that day from a grass-rootsy sorta organization that reported some members of congress recommending that President Obama invoke the 14th amendment, which says, in part: "the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned."

Some members of congress, yes, mostly democrats, interpret this to mean that the President has not only the authority , constitutional mandate and/or blessing, but in fact the *duty* to break a congressional and/or procedural deadlock when it concerns matters of national fiscal solvency, and, in particular, when it threatens retirees' pensions and veterens' benefits.

The 14th Amendment basically gives President Obama the authority to p-shaw speaker Boehmer and throw him a well deserved back-handed wave, if he doesn't get on board with the business of serving and running America, and protecting the rights and well-being of ALL of its citizens.

If Boehner et al can't seem to get their acts together and work with the President to get this thing done, the 14th Amendment gives President Obama the prerogative (and even staunch suggestion) to tell Boehner and company to go to work, go to bat, or go to hell, and HE will get the job done WITHOUT them!

BOY - DO I AGREE!


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Freeway Flyer 5 years ago

I was also thinking that President Obama could almost raise the ceiling temporarily by executive order. Although your Constitutional solution sounds better.

One of the basic problems in teaching is that we are often put into situations - big classes, frequent standardized tests, apathetic parents, bureaucratic BS - that make success difficult. It is also easy to get bogged down in details and forget the big picture. Teaching the important stuff thoroughly is more important than trying to "cover" everything.

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