Author Archives: betsylangert

Voting and Learning Denied. Education and Entitlement

©copyright 2013. Betsy L. Angert BeThink
Voting Rights Act CBS News
Is it fear of the darkness that dims our mind or is it the dim of our mind that is dark and damning? No one can be sure; however we can see what occurs and ask why. Why might Americans systematically deny rights to people of color? Why might the young, the most vulnerable among us, be victims of prey? Indeed, why do we prejudge people at all and why is it that even the elderly cannot escape our diabolical doings? The theories abound; answers escape us. Nevertheless, the veracity is our truth. The right to learn and the right to vote are denied.

We close their schools, deny them an equal and equitable education, and in 2013 we may ultimately rescind the voting rights of the few. In January of this year, the Journey For Justice 2 Alliance met with officials in Washington, District of Columbia, to discuss the topic, education policies that discriminate. Today, on February 27, 2013, just down the lane from the Department of Education hearing, another inquiry was held. The Supreme Court heard the case, Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder. On the face of it, the argument may seem separate from the subject of school closures. However, considering the consequences of what might be after a day of testimony, Voting Rights Law Draws Skepticism From Justices, there is reason for concern. Will the cycle of recrimination continue? Will we curse the darkness that is our own?
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Hurricane Sandy and What Heals Hurts


By Betsy L. Angert

Human beings are a fascinating bunch.  We gather information through observation, and the reading of facts, figures, and formulas.  We draw inferences and deduce. Granted conversations too play a role in what we conclude; however, mostly humans rely on the readable. What we cannot see is thought less significant.  Take Hurricane Sandy for example.

Meteorologists  saw the signs.  Citizens, who merely glanced at the papers understood what was visible in print; Sharp Warnings as Hurricane Churns Inc People began to do as people do when warned of an impending storm. They prepare for the worse.  Individuals and families evacuated the area.  Transit Authorities shutdown the system.  Cities and counties hunkered down.

Now, after the tempest took its toll, young ones do as the adults had done. An eight-grader’s account  looks at what appears on the surface. As do most, she too attends to material concerns.  Rarely, do we know what else to do. Society and school curriculums that reflect a standardized surface reality do not give us the critical thinking tools needed to assist persons who have experienced an emotional trauma.  Today, we have one. We have Psychological First Aid. This relief is not as a “kit” filled with bandages, cotton balls and antiseptic; nor is a box full of funds or quick-fix tricks. No, this Aid is much like cake you bake or the casserole you might make for family or friends in distress.  Either is a gift of love.  Each opens the door for conversations that reveal feelings.  So what is this Aid?

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Unions, Education and The Chicago Teachers Strike

By Betsy L. Angert

The Chicago Teachers Union strike, and the recent rallies held in conjunction, speak to a problem larger than the conventional meme of pay increases, tenure, or pensions. Chicago Teachers want better working conditions. They realize as no other employees might; the environments in which they work fashion the future of our nation. Our children’s education is at-risk.

Twenty-five years have passed since Chicago Teachers Union members have gone out on strike. These Educators realize as do all workers ¬Unions today are not the powerhouses of yesteryear. According to a study by Sociologist Jake Rosenfeld, unionization among private-sector full-time employees fell by 40% between 1984 and 2002. Indeed, as cited in Unions, Norms, and the Rise in American Wage Inequality, “From 1973 to 2007, private sector union membership in the United States declined from 34 to 8 percent for men and from 16 to 6 percent among women. Inequality in hourly wages increased by over 40 percent in this period.”

The reasons are stark. Continue reading

The Homeless Adjunct

A few years back, Paul E. Lingenfelter began his report on the defunding of public education by saying, “In 1920 H.G. Wells wrote, ‘History is becoming more and more a race between education and catastrophe.’ I think he got it right. Nothing is more important to the future of the United States and the world than the breadth and effectiveness of education, especially of higher education. I say especially higher education, but not because pre- school, elementary, and secondary education are less important. Success at every level of education obviously depends on what has gone before. But for better or worse, the quality of postsecondary education and research affects the quality and effectiveness of education at every level.”

In the last few years, conversations have been growing like gathering storm clouds about the ways in which our universities are failing. There is talk about the poor educational outcomes apparent in…

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Progress and the Power of a Plan

copyright © 2012 Betsy L. Angert. Empathy And Education; BeThink or BeThink.org

Inherent within each of us is a conflict. Generally speaking, we think progress is a sign of achievement. As George Bernard Shaw aptly articulated, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” Indeed, politically, at one time or another, persons within each Party have embraced the label, “Progressives.” However, while we glorify change, we also disdain it. Most of us look back and think, “Those were the days.”

The good old days are commonly defined as “when we were young.” It might have been the 1940s; the fifties, or some other decade. In earlier eras, schools were vehicles for success. Now, these same institutions are seen and scored as failures. Teachers were principled. Today, throughout the news we read, educators are perverse. Our children come home and tell tales that affirm what adults have come to believe is true; teachers are bad! Public education is worse. Parents surmise home schools or private learning centers would better serve their needs. Cyber classes, too, must be an option. Online learning tailors a lesson, much more so than a unionized teacher would. The people want Choice!

There is one consensus; tests are good. Accountability is the gold standard. Continue reading

Mitt, My Good Man

copyright © 2012 Betsy L. Angert. Empathy And Education; BeThink or BeThink.org

Dearest Mitt . . .

I am unsure if we have had the pleasure of an in-person exchange. I too travel in political circles. However, I do not recall. Perhaps we met in the past. I trust I have done business with you and your firm, Bain Capital. Bravo on your successes.

Please allow me to introduce myself by way of this letter. This morning, I caught a glimpse of your Today Show interview with Matt Lauer. I heard you speak of the exaggerated envy now heard on the campaign trail. Oh, my friend Mitt, how I relate. If I might; well stated my man. People do want what they do not have. First Bain, then the White House. Indeed, one Chief Executive position ensured that you were a world power. The other is but a natural transition. Instead of having a seat at the table of global influence, as President of the United States, you, old man, will own the table.

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The Good School; Principals or Principles


Good School/Bad School

copyright © 2012 Betsy L. Angert. Empathy And Education; BeThink or BeThink.org

A few organizations have attempted to answer The Good School Question. Each asks, “What epitomizes a great learning center?” “How might we, as a society, give birth to quality institutions?” The solutions are many. All of the associations speak of guiding principles. A few also strongly favor Principal or Teacher Leadership. The various alliances advance the premise; our first and foremost priority must be our children. In prose, beautifully composed, mission statements submit, adult wants cannot come before the needs of our offspring. Yet, after careful examination it is difficult to discern this truth. Many aspirations. Many a mirage. How might we know which is which? Once reviewed, every one of us will decide what works well in education and how might we execute a plan. Will principles, Principals, or pedagogy lead learners to salvation.

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Voter Suppression and My Situation

Rachel Maddow: Voter Suppression in 2011
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

13 December 2011

Dearest Rachel Maddow. . .

As I write I listen to you speak of poll taxes and voter suppression. I wish to share my story in respect to my personal reality and the fear that I live with. Decades before the Barack Obama long-form birth certificate, I realized my own fear. Unlike the persons in your account, I am not a senior citizen. I am a permanent resident of the United States and have been for all of my life. While I have never crossed a border into another country, I have great apprehension for what might occur.

May I provide a bit of background? For the last six years, I have lived in the State of Florida. I trust that the Florida situation, and thus mine, is familiar for more than a few. Millions of Americans have found, or will discover, circumstances have changed. The opportunity to cast a ballot, early, easily, or to merely to be part of the electoral process is no longer theirs. Continue reading

August To June; Bringing Life to Palm Beach Schools

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copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert. Empathy And Education; BeThink or BeThink.org

As any Mom or Dad might do on Parent Teacher Conference Day, Amy Valens, the Educator featured in the documentary film August To June, traveled from “classroom to classroom.” This journey was not a conventional one. Indeed, Amy did not attend a series of Parent Teacher Conferences. What she did was appear at Palm Beach screenings of her documentary. The film follows twenty-six [26] third and fourth graders who studied with Amy in her last year of teaching. The open classroom, within a public school, “Brings Life” to education.

After the movie was viewed, Ms Valens and the audiences engaged in conversations. They discussed what they saw and how it might relate to a broader dialogue. The subjects of Education Reform, Classroom Standards, Teacher Quality, Merit Pay, Student-Rewards for Success, Parent Involvement, and Testing are but a few topics prominent in our national debate. While the assemblies of viewers varied widely, the results were the same. Every child, every class, all Teachers, and each parent, tells a unique tale. Regardless of the individual or group, we see the world, or in this case the film, through our own lens. Continue reading

Occupy Wall Street; Woes and Words

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copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert. Empathy And Education; BeThink or BeThink.org

Occupy Wall Street? I will not. However, I am there in spirit. I believe in the cause, the many grounds protesters have posited. Countless Grievances, One Thread Howard Zinn stated this shared truth ever so succinctly years earlier, ”It is not only Iraq that is occupied. America is too.” Wall Street, Schools, Classrooms, Hospitals, and Banks, these “Occupations” have gone on for far too long. People in Zuccotti Park and at the Chase Manhattan Plaza understand as most Americans do. The myriad movement reflects the ninety-niners thirst for dignity. The cravings are deep. Continue reading

Primary Teachers and Their Pedagogy

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copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert. Empathy And Education; BeThink or BeThink.org

I offer homage to a Teacher whose pedagogy touched me in a manner invisible to me until this moment. For scores, I understood what a gift he was to me. His open and caring ways were as I craved. However, I had never imagined that this man’s schooling style made the difference in my life. Today, I invite each of us to look beyond the boundaries or the labels.

Often in life we are asked to reflect; who was or were your most profound Teachers. I shared my stories in a missive or more. Those Who Can Teach; Life Lessons Learned, Those Who Can Teach; Transformative Teachers, and Why I Write and Write, Then Write Again. There are myriad sorts of Teachers. A few are true treasures. These special souls take a personal interest in us as individuals. Students are seen as whole beings, not solely a score, or a name to be identified as a number. Without these rare Teachers we would not soar.

Innumerable Scholars seek to inform rather than interact in a way that inspires. Academicians, an abundance of these, think to fill a brain full of facts, formulas, and figures, is to teach. I wonder; do these Educators believe they learn from their students? I cannot know with certainty. For myriad mentors, their labor is not born out of love, but out of need . . . the need to train students for a test. Continue reading

Save Our Schools; Let Us Never Forget the Mission, March, and Movement

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copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert. Empathy And Education; BeThink or BeThink.org

Near a month has passed since the Save Our Schools storm swept through Washington District of Columbia. As with all squalls the effects of such an event linger long after the winds die down. A physical space cleaned-up after a tempest takes place does not erase the memory of what occurred. Be it a blast of air or an action, the calm does not close a chapter in our lives. The current, commitment, the cause, and our concern do not wane with time, that is, unless we choose to move on or tell ourselves that that is possible. I believe the notion the past is past is fallacious. Our past permeates the present and is a foundation for the future. Thus, for me, the thought, and the March to Save Our Schools are strong. It survives as is evidenced by the now named Movement.

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It Happened Last Night

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copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert. Empathy And Education; BeThink or BeThink.org

It happened last night. As I reflect, I realize it has happened all along. Each day, in most every moment I have an opportunity to look at life and learn. Yet I become consumed with more immediate concerns. He said. She said. The system, situation, or some other entity supplants a deeper assessment. Years ago, I came to understand that I create my own chaos, calm, or shades of what will be. As an Educator, I speak of this often. My students often quote me on the subject of choices. Yet, until yesterday, I never fully grasped how true my words might be. I am unsure why the events of the evening took me where they did. I share the story. Continue reading

Why We Say Save Our Schools

copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert. Empathy And Education; BeThink or BeThink.org

I am but one who will stand strong to ensure an equal education for all. All who do or plan to, will express themselves in various ways. Some will March. Others will Rally or gather in Conference. Several have, do, or expect to act locally. Countless change what they can for children within the dynamics that define their family. Nationwide, innumerable Americans join hands and embrace a common cause. Let us Save Our Schools. Continue reading

Hung. Hung Over. Hung Up. Hung Out To Dry

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copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert. Empathy And Education; BeThink or BeThink.org

With news of Congressman Anthony Weiner’s indiscretions the word “Hung” has frequently been heard. “Hung Over” too entered our conversations. Many asked if he was. “Hung Up” played a powerful role in reflections. “Hung Out to Dry” seems to be the consensus. Crowds of Congressmen and women, citizens from each political Party, and even those who claim no loyalties, say, The Representative must be renounced. Few wish to admit that Anthony Weiner is but you and me.

Supreme Court Justices, who served under Chief Jurist Brennan, perhaps, make three. Any of us might easily say, as the Justices did decades ago; on the subject of obscene or outrageous, “I Know It When I See It.” We each do. Still, the definitions vary.

While few of us are officially appointed to write ”codes” of conduct, as the Supreme Court Justices are, we too avidly watch the actions of another and judge. Continue reading

The Face of the Enemy

Faces of the Enemy

copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert. Empathy And Education; BeThink or BeThink.org

Today, Americans walk it back, belatedly, and too late to bring home American and allied troops who died in battle, government officials released recordings. The media distributes and discusses these en masse. Those prominent in the press and public office say “the people have the right to know,” exactly what the tale that could have been told decades ago. Osama Bin Laden was never more than human, a tragic hero, a comical character, just as you or me.. Continue reading

The People Ignored or Ignore?

Obama’s Journey: All Aboard!!!!

“All aboard?” The conductor cries out. The people, men, women, and children file in. The train fills quickly. Finally, after what are only mere minutes, the engine turns. Steam, or today, diesel fumes, billow out the pipes. We are off on a road of no return. It is another election season. In truth, these never really begin nay end. The cycle is as the chug-chug of any locomotive; it is continuous, monotonous, a wearisome drone. The series starts as it always does, with hope, dreams of change, and the catechetic realization that the Messiah has come. Soon we see this redeemer is but a man or woman, a meager mortal. He, be he the President of the United States, the Libyan “Leader,” the “boy next door,” the “good girl,” you or me is not the savior we imagined. Continue reading

Parenthood Planned

Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) In Opposition to the Pence Amendment

copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert. Empathy And Education; BeThink or BeThink.org

While I have no desire to share my physical age, for I think each Soul, should they chose to be, is timeless, for the purposes of this treatise on Planned Parenthood, I will. The reason, I think this topic is more than a meaningful one. In truth, Planned Parenthood has long been extremely significant in my life. No. I was never pregnant. I planned or at least Planned Parenthood taught me to. I share the one and only tale that caused me to question my judgment and myself. On one occasion I had unprotected sex. The results? Well, you decide. I offer my story.

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Those Who Can Teach; Life Lessons Learned

 
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copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert. Empathy And Education; BeThink or BeThink.org

He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches
~ George Bernard Shaw [Man and Superman, 1903]

“A fool’s brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education.”
~ George Bernard Shaw

I heard the words for as long as I recall. The meaning was intricately woven into my mind. I, as all little children since George Bernard Shaw scribed his belief, ”He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches,” was taught to believe that Teachers could choose no other career. Educators, entrusted with children’s lives were indeed, incapable beings. These individuals had tried and failed to perform well in professions that required intellect and, or dexterity. Because the incompetent were inept, they fled to schools and identified themselves as “Teachers.” In classrooms, less than sage scholars could teach with little authentic expertise. Today, as a culture, Americans choose to prove this erroneous truth. Grading the Teachers: Value-Added Analysis. Continue reading

The Genuine Genius

Malcolm Gladwell and Robert Krulwich at the 92nd Street Y

copyright © 2008. Revised Edition © 2011 Betsy L. Angert. Empathy And Education; BeThink or BeThink.org

As educators, parents, and persons who were once young and now thought to be elder, and thus, wiser, and more wondrous, and accomplished, within our own being we might feel we are less than we appear to be. Tis true; our parents, Teachers, Professors, and friends had such high hopes for us. Our own dreams were even more impressive. Most of us envisioned that we would reach the pinnacle as we progressed until we failed an examination, received a lower grade in a class, or “disappointed” our family when we did less well than they hoped we might? Continue reading