I received this email from our sons’ elementary school.
We will not be allowed to view the eclipse outside, but will view it on the Smart board (live stream from NASA) in the afternoon. We will be returning any money that was given to purchase the eclipse glasses. Thank you so much for those parents that sent in money!! Don’t worry though, we still have some fun things to do on that day that “revolve” around the eclipse!!
To insure that our students and staff are 100% safe on August 21st (Eclipse Day), we ask that classes do not go outside any time after 2:00 pm. If the time changes we will notify all staff members.
So we can all enjoy the experience in our building, we will forward the live stream link from NASA to all staff. All PK-5th grade students can watch the live link on the smartboard in their classroom.
Where we live in Georgia, the eclipse will cover about 94% of the sun. It will be the only eclipse most of these kids will see from here in their lifetimes. And they’ll be forced to watch it indoors, on TV.
I thought this brand of liability-lawyer-inspired stupidity might have been unique to our school district, and then I saw this:
The Cumberland Valley School District will keep students indoors for afternoon recess during next week’s partial solar eclipse.
In a letter to parents, school administrators said the decision was made after consulting with the district physician.
“While we recognize that the opportunity to view an eclipse is a rare occurrence, our number one priority is the health, safety, and well being of our students and staff,” the letter states. “There are possible hazards associated with exposure to potentially harmful rays during the partial eclipse.”
I’m surprised these schools are letting kids outside at all, anytime. Because looking directly into the sun is hazardous, you know.
I understand that the purpose of “viewing an eclipse” is to look at the sun, but at our school, they made the glasses available. Apparently, some lawyer determined that if a little kid takes off the glasses, some parent will sue the school for the resulting eye damage. So it’s better to stay in a dark room and watch on television as if it wasn’t real.
This is, in my non-technical opinion as a parent, bullcrap.
Fortunately for our family, we decided weeks ago to take our kids out of school for the day and travel a few hours away to be inside the 100% totality band. We have our own eclipse glasses. Hopefully, God-willing, if there’s no cloud cover, we’ll get the view of the eclipse we are supposed to have while the other kids sit in a dark room, inside.
I encourage you, parents, to check with your schools to see if they are contributing to your kids’ ignorance and non-experience of anything except television programs. You might want to keep little Johnny or Jane home, lest they miss out on a real-life experience they may never see again.
That’s my take.
P.S. “Kosmikophobia” is a thing.
Educational Malpractice, Pt 2: Failure of identity politics on display
“What a snake pit.” Those were the words of one teacher, commenting on Twitter in response to my February 6th article (detailing the malfeasance uncovered after a local principle blew the whistle in a fiery letter released to the public), to describe the Shelby County Schools system (SCS).
Another person commented, “I would wager there are more instances of this sort of behavior going on across the country in similarly-positioned school systems.”
Neither comment brought me any joy, but I suspect both are correct.
For this, I continue in my examination into my local school system, an examination of issues which are often diluted in reports published by our compliant, local press. Perhaps removing the veil can bring positive change to other school systems.
What hasn’t been said in the press, I intend to say.
The Death of a Successful School System –
Shelby County Schools, headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, has not always been embroiled in scandal and failure. In fact, Shelby County Schools has a record of proven success, earning high ratings year after year.
That all ended, just 5 years ago, with the largest school system consolidation in American history: the Memphis City Schools (MCS) system was completely dissolved and then merged with the Shelby County Schools (SCS) system.
Historical Corruption and White Flight –
In Memphis, history repeats itself: politicians who have been convicted of criminal corruption are routinely re-elected.
Take Rickey Peete, for example. Beginning in the 1980’s, Rickey Peete served on the Memphis City Schools Board, and was then elected to the Memphis City Council.
- In 1989, Peete was convicted of taking bribes and extortion, and served a 2 ½ year prison sentence.
- In 1995, Rickey Peete was again elected to the Memphis City Council, and was later re-elected 2 more times!
- In 2007, Peete was, once again, convicted for extortion and accepting bribes, earning himself a 4-year prison sentence. “He and fellow council member Edmund Ford were charged in late 2006 with taking bribes from former County Commissioner Joe Cooper, who was recording their conversations for the FBI,” (Memphis Flyer).
Then there are the Fords; a family of politicians that could be described as a criminal enterprise. And, lest we forget, the FBI’s Operation Tennessee Waltz offers a sobering reminder of the corruption that has haunted the area.
Thus, plagued by decades of political woes and poor policies, more and more people moved out of Memphis – often incurring debt in order to do so – and into the surrounding cities hoping to escape the rising crime rates and the downward decent in quality and safety of the city’s troubled schools.
Although the areas of Shelby County which are outside of the City of Memphis are just slightly over 50% white, the departure of city residents away from Memphis is pejoratively called “white flight.”
The Funding Structure –
All county residents’ county-wide property taxes were divided between the Memphis City Schools and the Shelby County Schools based on the number of students. This structure allocated more funds to the City of Memphis since the city’s schools had a higher number of students than the county’s school system.
The Memphis City Schools operated as a special school district. Residents of Memphis paid additional property taxes that were allocated to the city’s schools. As such, Memphis City Schools operated with a larger budget; funded by county and city residents, allowing for significantly higher per-student spending than that of Shelby County Schools.
In addition to various special programs, Memphis City Schools students’ athletics were publicly funded, while Shelby County students’ athletics were funded entirely by their parents.
Yet, Memphis City Schools were constantly facing funding difficulties, and threatening to dissolve the school system entirely became a norm.
In an act of desperation, hoping to keep the crooked fingers of Memphis corruption from taking over the county’s high-functioning, successful school district, the Shelby County Schools board began exploring legal ways of obtaining special district status for the county system, the same special district status that Memphis City Schools enjoyed.
A Hostile Takeover –
By 2010, due to mismanagement and corruption, the City of Memphis had defaulted on tens of millions of dollars designated for the city’s schools. In a rushed vote brought on by funding woes and by the efforts of SCS to obtain special district status, the MCS school board hastily threw in the towel, voting to dissolve the charter of Memphis City Schools altogether.
A referendum vote was then scheduled for Memphis residents to approve the council’s choice for system dissolution. County residents did not have any voice in what was to happen to their school system should MCS merge into it.
If the referendum passed, Memphis representatives, based on population, would then secure the majority of SCS school board seats.
It passed, and the Memphis City Schools system officially ceased to exist.
Those Rich, Racist Bastards! –
Leading up to the referendum vote, “journalists” and education “advocates” and politicians repeatedly put forth the premise that education in Shelby County was unequal, despite the higher public spending per pupil and the public funding of various support programs in Memphis City schools which would disappear should the city schools be dissolved.
The residents of the suburbs and of unincorporated Shelby County were labeled racists and their genuine concern for their children was painted as an attempt to maintain boundaries of segregation. County residents were framed as rich white people who hate black people and who are inexcusably greedy, selfishly hoarding their riches in hopes of keeping black children in poverty.
In the county schools, technology such as Promethean Boards and learning programs such as Accelerated reader were entirely funded by parents. This technology was absent from Memphis City Schools. The stark contrast in parental involvement the positive effects of high levels of parental involvement on student achievement was brushed aside, as if invalid.
With complete disregard for the studies highlighting the negative effects of system mergers on students, especially low-income minority students, the “advocates” persisted.
The gross failures of the Memphis City Schools system which had persisted because of systemic corruption, a climate of mediocrity, and vast ineptitude was simply re-framed as “separate and unequal education.”
City residents swallowed this racist, classist, shamefully dishonest ploy hook, line, and sinker.
Memphis City Schools system officially merged into Shelby County Schools in 2013; representatives from Memphis secured majority rule of the SCS board, effecting every single public school-attending child in the county.
Shelby County Schools became the largest school system in the country.
Curiously, and reeking of Memphis politics, the attorney representing the Memphis City Schools during the years-long merger process then became the superintendent for the new, unified Shelby County Schools system.
The Results –
Predictably, the endemic dysfunction that characterized Memphis City Schools now characterizes the Shelby County Schools system. The same failing schools are still failing. The same inept leadership keeps on leading.
Even rumors of school board corruption still persist.
The worst result, which was completely predictable I must add, was the phenomenon of once high-performing schools across the county subsequently dropping precipitously in quality.
For example, what was once a top-performing elementary school around the corner from my house is now a level 1 school (at the bottom of the rankings).
The problems that plagued Memphis City Schools were never addressed.
It was far easier to feign virtuous, employing the abhorrent politics of identity, than it was to seek genuine solutions. So, it should be absolutely no surprise that the results have been, in a nutshell, the spread of failure.
Thankfully, for at least some of Shelby County’s children, the story doesn’t end here. There was a great divorce that took place, benefitting thousands of students.
Yet, it is because of this “divorce” that the residents of Shelby County are once again being plastered as racists and classists, rich whites, on a national scale; and residents have become the target of well-funded, Marxist proponents of the “sustainability” movement.
This, I will discuss in Part 3 (the final part).
Video: You’re Not A Liberal!
A Truth Revolt Original from Bill Whittle that succinctly explains why Leftists aren’t Liberal.
Published on Oct 10, 2014
The 4:20 minute mark in the 6 minute video has its most important point:
The founding fathers were the True Liberals because they believed in Liberty – with both words having the same origins.
They believed in individual Liberty, private property, limited government and the common sense civil rights of free-speech and armed self-defence. They believed in the freedom to be left alone.
The point of the video is that the collectivists of the nation’s Socialist-Left do not meet the definition of the word Liberal. They believe in collective rights, Collective ownership of property, unlimited government, limitations on speech and gun confiscation.
Those of that mindset (Leftists) are not Liberal by any stretch of the imagination.
Educational malpractice Pt. 1: fraud, sex and football in Memphis, TN
“I CAN NOT and WILL NOT continue to work in an environment that covers up gross negligence among multiple Principals and Senior and Junior District Level supervisors who participate in sexual relationships with teachers/employees/support staff whom they supervise, which directly violates Tennessee law and requires revocation of their license and termination from supervisory positions. This is a common and accepted practice.”
With its headquarters located in The Home of the Blues, the Shelby County Schools system has been singing the blues lately, and for good reason.
It was back in June of 2017, when the trouble really kick-started. Trezevant High School principal, Ronnie Mackin, released a head-turning, six-page resignation letter in which he outlined a series of complaints against Shelby County Schools, including, among other things:
- grade-changing (which a three-lawyer panel investigation proved to be systemic);
- sexual improprieties between faculty, staff, and district supervisors (an issue reported in another area high school as well);
- breaches in security at the school (one incident was later uncovered on surveillance footage);
- racist conduct by school system administrators, supervisors, and other district officials;
- financial mishandlings and possible theft of school funds (SCS later opened a separate investigation into this matter);
- and pay-to-play for certain athletes.
Mackin closed his resignation letter with a series of powerful declarations, several of which I have included throughout this article in italicized form.
Back in August of 2016, Principal Mackin – brand new to Trezevant High School – approached Shelby County Schools (SCS) district leadership after uncovering wide-spread grade-changes. Students’ report cards did not align with their official transcripts.
Some students’ grades were changed from failing to passing, while others received credit for courses not taken. This, according to Mackin, put 121 out of 145 seniors at risk of not graduating.
“I CAN NOT and WILL NOT continue to work in an environment where it is common knowledge that certain schools have cheated to attain “other than normal” achievement gains.”
Trezevant High School’s 2015-2016 graduation rate was 49%, which improved 16% in the 2014-15 school year which remains well-under district, state, and national averages.
As Mackin later elucidated, “Changing grades from failing to passing, artificially raising graduation rates, and falsifying college transcripts have become part of a big business,” noting the compensation structure within the school system which are “based on a mythical system of accountability,” and which ultimately encourage unethical behavior.
An internal district investigation by Shelby County Schools was begun.
“I CAN NOT and WILL NOT continue to work in an environment that promotes dishonesty, fraud, and misrepresentations of academic progress in order to promote athletic success.”
Because a large number of the grade-changes effected football players, Trezevant’s football team was forced to forfeit all games until the investigation had been completed, which prompted protests from students.
The Trezevant High School football team won the state championship the prior school year.
Over the course of the remaining school year, Principal Mackin’s car was vandalized with racist language (“white boy b**** a**”), and a whisper campaign against him ensued within the community, which according to Mackin’s resignation letter, was instigated by several SCS district officials.
Such incidents included:
- the implication the Mackin, as a white man, was culturally illiterate and ineffective at his post;
- a voicemail on a parent’s phone by Mackin’s supervisor encouraging that parent to seek legal action against Mackin “under false pretenses”;
- and district officials instigating parents to perform a background check on Mackin (which ultimately found nothing).
“I CAN NOT and WILL NOT continue to work in an environment where district level supervisors are not only allowed to bully and harass school level Principals, Teachers, and Support Staff, they are encouraged.”
The district’s internal investigation had concluded in October of 2016:
“We have identified 131 students currently enrolled in the district whose transcripts were altered by a staff member of Trezevant . . . All these students were previously enrolled at Trezevant at some point during their time in high school. 92 of these students are still enrolled at Trezevant, 44 of whom are seniors. The remaining 39 (of the 131) are now enrolled in 22 different high schools. Of these 39 students, 15 are seniors. (Other schools will be contacted as needed.)”
The incident was settled and swept aside.
But not for Ronnie Mackin.
“I CAN NOT and WILL NOT continue to work in an environment that allows District Leadership to collude, interfere, and influence DUE PROCESS in order to protect employees tied by long standing acquaintance, sexual relationships, and fraternal/sorority affiliations from being disciplined fairly and according to policy.”
After Mackin’s fiery resignation letter was made public, a full 10 months after he had first uncovered and reported the grading discrepancies to the school district, SCS appointed a panel of lawyers to investigate the incident.
Now, the panel’s findings have been released, and the picture painted by the findings is bleak.
As the Commercial Appeal reported:
“At least 53 students graduated from Trezevant without earning their diplomas, according to findings from the report released Tuesday. That increased the graduation rate 14 percent over a four-year period from 2012-2016. During that time, 461 grades at that school were changed from failing to passing.
Kirby High had 582 failing grades changed to passing grades.
After Trezevant, Raleigh-Egypt High had 429 such changes.”
The report called for even further investigations, indicating Trezevant was merely the tip of the iceberg; a recommendation which the SCS board subsequently encouraged. Eight different schools are now undergoing audits.
The state Department of Education also urged the district to investigate further, ordering expansive audits for all Shelby County Schools for the next three years.
In addition, the State has requested the names of all who were involved in altering students’ grades.
“The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury’s office is investigating Trezevant at the request of Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich. Those investigators have the freedom to expand their investigation as necessary,” the Commercial Appeal reported.
Shelby County Schools accreditation is even on the line. As Fox 13 Memphis reported, it’s the damning findings found in the panel’s report “that now has AdvancED, the agency that issues and oversees important school accreditations, wondering what’s going on inside SCS?”
The board has also moved to fire Trezevant’s head football coach, who had since been moved to a different area high school.
In a January op-ed in the Commercial Appeal, Mackin put the practice of grade-changing into full perspective:
“Students have become commodities (priced at around $11,500 per student) to some educators who are willing to promote them and get them out of school in hopes for big returns in the future.
This is child exploitation and abuse.”
“I CAN NOT and WILL NOT continue to work in an environment where students are the last priority…”
Had it not been for the actions of one brave (and royally ticked off) principal, a man who chose to sacrifice his own 19-year long career for the betterment of our community’s youths and who has continued to speak out, the improprieties within the school system would have never been uncovered, nor addressed.
We may never find out the degree of rot within the adult culture of Shelby County Schools, or just how many bad actors we have employed.
It has only been a few years since Memphis schools were rocked by a teacher licensing-exam “cheating ring” that spanned three states. The mastermind was a 23-year employee, having served as a teacher, an assistant principal and a guidance counselor for the school system. Multiples teacher were indicted.
Dorsey Hopson, who serves as the superintendent of Shelby County Schools, said at the time, “It would be unfair to let what may be 50, 60 or 100 teachers who did some wrong stain the good work of the large number of teachers and administrators who get up every day and go by the book.”
Sadly, there is one thing of which we can be certain: where there is one bad actor, there are many.
Fallen apples don’t rot far from the tree.
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