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Educational Malpractice, Pt 2: Failure of identity politics on display

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“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).

Paige Rogers is a Christian artist and author, and a former professional practitioner in the field of Early Childhood Development. She is the creator of ThePaintingPastor.org, a blog offering Christian reflection, exhortation and discernment alongside various artistic techniques visually documented through Paige's unique artistic endeavors. A lover of learning, Paige is an avid enthusiast of history, civics, political geography and human nature, physical geography and the sciences. She is an incurably inquisitive and chronically creative “egghead.” Paige is a strong supporter of America's service members and veterans.

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Culture and Religion

The Context of Life

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Man #1 shoots Man #2. As a result, Man #2 dies. Is Man #1 a murderer?

Obviously, it depends. Context matters. Did Man #1 fire in self-defense? Did he shoot Man #2 by accident? Was Man #1 part of a legally appointed firing squad or under a hypnotic trance? Was the weapon a prop gun that mistakenly contained live ammunition? There are many points to consider before we can definitively say that an instance of killing constitutes murder.

Let’s try another thought exercise: protesters are gunned down by a neighboring country’s military forces. Is this murder? Is it a breach of international law? Is it a gross violation of human rights?

Again, it depends. Context matters. Are these protesters peaceful, or are they, say, planting landmines, tossing grenades, hurling molotov cocktails, and threatening to invade the country that is firing back at them? Have these protesters sworn to murder and pillage their neighbors until they are eradicated from the earth, all in the name of radical religious zeal? Are upwards of 50 out of the 62 protesters killed members of a terrorist organization?

Here’s another one: are illegal immigrants animals?

That depends; are the immigrants in question members of a ruthless gang that rips the beating hearts out of its victims? Do these immigrants peddle drugs, commit brutal assaults, and routinely rape women? Given the context and Oxford’s alternative definition of “animal” — “a person whose behavior is regarded as devoid of human attributes or civilizing influences, especially someone who is very cruel, violent, or repulsive. Synonyms: brute, beast, monster, devil, demon, fiend” — I think we can deem that perhaps too kind a descriptor.

Some people, however, seem to reject the value of context when it goes against their narrative. For instance, on the issue of calling MS-13 members “animals,” singer John Legend tweeted on Thursday, “Even human beings who commit heinous acts are the same species as us, not ‘animals’. I’m in the hospital with our new son. Any of these babies here could end up committing terrible crimes in the future. It’s easy, once they’ve done so, to distance ourselves from their humanity. … Dehumanizing large groups of people is the demagogue’s precursor to visiting violence and pain upon them.”

While MS-13 undoubtedly deserves any visitation of violence and pain upon them, the most glaring hole in Legend’s argument is that mere hours ago, he wouldn’t have considered “any of these babies” to be the same species as him (except when it’s his own baby). And as an outspoken donor and supporter of Planned Parenthood, he wouldn’t hesitate to defend the visitation of violence and pain upon them. But because of arbitrary abortion arguments, Legend and countless other Leftists ascribe more humanity to murderous villains than preborn babies.

Ironically, the one issue where Leftists insist on considering context is the one topic for which nuance is largely counterproductive — the sanctity of life.

As mentioned earlier, not all killing is murder, nor is it always unjustified. The right to life is unalienable, meaning it is intrinsic and therefore cannot be given nor taken away by man. It can, however, be surrendered through certain violations of another person’s unalienable rights. This is why many conservatives support capital punishment for perpetrators of homicide and rape. But it’s critical to recognize that this position is taken in order to emphasize the dignity of life and the severity of seriously harming and/or violating it. Similar reasoning is what justifies depriving someone of their unalienable right to liberty after they’ve committed a crime — they’ve automatically surrendered that right based on their actions.

That single caveat aside, any attempt to contextualize the debate for life pushes the dialogue further down a nonsensical rabbit hole designed to cheapen the worth of the weakest among us, or, to borrow Legend’s term, “dehumanize” them. At every turn, the argument gets slipperier and slipperier.

The Left will say that all human life is precious, even murderers, but they don’t extend this philosophy to unborn babies.

“Context!” they scream. “Fetuses aren’t fully human, and they aren’t really alive.”

Even if we gave the Left that argument, we have to ask whether fetal life, though not fully developed, is still worth protecting.

But the Left can’t give a straight answer here either, because while they celebrate a woman’s choice to terminate her unborn child, they cry for the conservation of fetuses that aren’t even human, proclaiming their inherent dignity well before birth. Eagle and sea turtle eggs come to mind, among other examples.

Next, the Left tries to establish what differentiates a human before birth and a human after birth, or rather what about birth makes someone human, but their attempts at context again fall short:

On one hand, they say it’s about viability outside of the womb, but standards of what constitutes viability are fully arbitrary. A baby born at 37 weeks is no more viable than one at 41 weeks that refuses to pop out — but because it’s still in the womb, it’s still not a living human, apparently. A baby born at 25 weeks in a big city is more viable than a baby born at 35 weeks in the boonies. My one-year-old daughter couldn’t survive without constant care from someone else, and neither could many elderly folks.

Other pro-aborts claim that if there’s no heartbeat, there’s no life, yet I don’t see many of them rushing to pull the plug on grandpa because he’s hooked up to a pacemaker.

I’ve heard some say that a baby’s first breath is what makes it human — so what about those who require artificial sources of oxygen? And if air confers humanity, then why aren’t all air-breathing animals human? If it determines life, then what happens when I hold my breath? I have the potential to breathe again, just as a fetus, left alone, has the potential to be born through natural processes.

The same goes for the sentience test. People in comas still enjoy an unalienable right to life.

Under the law, a woman can abort her baby, but if a pregnant woman is murdered, the assailant is charged with double homicide. No context can sensibly explain this double standard.

Some on the Right are guilty of it too. When asked whether abortion is murder, many engage in a similar exercise to the example I presented earlier about whether a shooting death necessarily constitutes murder: “it depends, what are the circumstances?”

There is no nuance to this question. Either the intentional taking of innocent life is murder or it is not. What difference does it make whether the baby was the result of rape or incest? I’ve stated in this very article that rape sometimes requires taking a life — but the baby is not the guilty party. Either life is sacred or it is not, regardless of how it got there.

Others cite the safety of the mother as context, but this argument is likewise flawed. Pursuing a vital cure for a woman’s ailment that indirectly harms the baby isn’t the intentional taking of innocent life but an unfortunate externality, so it’s not murder. And the case for actively terminating a pregnancy to save a mother is virtually identical to a self-defense argument, but again, there’s a problem: a baby is not an aggressor. It does not violate a woman’s rights, and a woman cannot violate the rights of her baby.

And a baby either has rights or it doesn’t. “Unalienable” means a baby doesn’t magically receive rights the moment it exits the birth canal, nor are a human’s rights any less inherent because he or she is dependent on someone or something else to sustain them. From the moment of existence, all human life has worth.

Life is the only consistent position, and it is so straightforward that it requires no nuance. Life either has intrinsic value or it does not. Context matters in almost every discussion of politics. But on the question of life, what people think is context is just an excuse to kill.


Richie Angel is the Editor at Large of thenewguards.net. Follow him and The New Guards on Twitter, and check out The New Guards on Facebook.

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Culture and Religion

Let’s Just say it: The Left Hates the Culture of Liberty. Part I

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While it hides behind the false label of Liberal, the nation’s Socialist Left continues to expand it’s assault on Liberty Culture.

Those of the Authoritarian Socialist Left seem to always have the same excuse when it comes to private entities denigrating freedom. These are private companies so they are unencumbered by the Constitutional restraints on the government. But this isn’t about those restraints, critically important as they may be. This is about the culture than undergirds those limitations of government and how the Left cannot abide by it, despite having labels that imply otherwise.

Freedom is based upon a culture of Liberty.

We are calling this Liberty Culture because for all intents and purposes, this is the foundational aspect that supports limitations on the government. Basic logic tells us that Liberty must contract as governmental power expands. One cannot have Liberty in the midst of an all-powerful government, history is replete with examples that show that these two concepts are entirely incompatible.

But the Authoritarian Socialist Left would rather that the people forget about this inconvenient truth. They would have everyone live under the delusion that a society can be safe and secure under total government control with full freedom for all. They would prefer that everyone forget that our Liberties are also Limitations on government power. That the removal of these Limitations signifies a dangerous expansion in this power, that proceeds horrific results.

The removal of the Liberty of free-speech means one cannot criticise the government. Denigration of freedom of the press negates the media acting as a watchdog over the government. Most importantly, making self-defense illegal changes the value of one’s life to that of usefulness to the government.

Definitionally speaking, for the nation’s Socialist Left there is nothing more important than governmental power. It gives them ever-expanding control over the people, whether it’s the words they use or if they are dependent on them for protection.

The Left’s creeping authoritarianism is becoming more and more obvious.

One only needs to take a short perusal of the news to come across stark examples of the Left’s creeping authoritarianism. In recent days they were in high dungeon over the style of a teenager’s prom dress, or that some have dared to openly display their assertion of the right of self-preservation.

These aren’t merely issues of the bill of rights, it goes far deeper than that. This goes to a collectivist mindset that one has the right to control what someone can say, do or defend themselves. This is while these people laughably think they are still Liberal.

The fact that people don’t roundly condemn these attempts at control by the Authoritarian Socialist Left should be a ‘Red Flag’ [To coin a term] to everyone that we as a society have let this continue for far too long. There was a time in the not too distant past when the phrase “None of your business” [expletive embellishment optional] was often used for far less intrusive situations. It should be readily apparent that this should be the response to many of these issues raised by the Left.

How the Parkland Kids became the ‘Me Too’ moment in the revelation of the Left’s assault on Liberty Culture.

In a circumstance similar to the #Metoo movement, for years it’s been an open secret that the nation’s Socialist-Left has been working against the cause of Liberty. In the case of the former, there have been several instances where prominent Leftists have been abusive towards women, but no one came forward to call them out until there came a breaking point. In a number of these cases, the deprivations of these supposed “Liberals” were known, but brushed aside for the greater good of Leftist “Progress”. In essence, the Leftists knew that there were those of their number who were reprobates, but kept this hidden because it’s purveyors were valuable to the Left’s collective cause.

In recent years, it has become stunningly clear that those who claim the false moniker of Liberal are in fact working to the detriment of the true meaning of the word. The Left side of the political spectrum tends to normally operate with small, incremental steps in most of it’s endeavours. It is only through the lens of time that the overall picture of the direction being taken becomes clear.

Thus is the case of the Left’s assault on that which it supposedly champions has become manifest. Whether by design or happenstance, the result has been a slow but inexorable strangulation of freedom. The analogy has always been of the frog in a pot of water being slowly heated until it cannot get out.

Enter the Parkland Kids movement with a major sea change in how the nation’s Socialist-Left has gone after the basic human right of self-preservation. The tactics by which these children have approached the problem has really been to the detriment of the Left. They have, in essence, ‘turned up the heat’ on the issue of the Left’s assault on the culture of Liberty to the point where it’s Socialist national agenda has become obvious to anyone willing to take notice.

We should acknowledge that there was a time when the Left actually supported Liberty.

There was a time when the Democratic party actually supported Liberty, championing certain aspects such as the 2nd amendment’s restraints on government:

Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the rights of citizens to keep and bear arms. This is not to say that firearms should not be very carefully used, and that definite safety rules of precaution should not be taught and enforced. But the right of citizens to bear arms is just one more guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against a tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible.

Senator Hubert H. Humphrey,
Comm.: Foreign Relations Minnesota
http://www.gunsmagazine.com/1960issues/G0260.pdf

For reference, Senator Hubert H. Humphrey ‘was one of the nation’s most prominent liberal politicians in the mid-20th century’  and went on to become Vice President and run for the top spot 1968 as the Democratic presidential nominee.

By the same token, the Left used to support other Liberties exemplified by a the Free-speech movement at UC Berkeley. The nation’s Left used to champion the cause of Liberty, and perhaps they could rightfully assume the moniker of ‘Liberal’ since that is essentially the root idea of that word as well as many others that sound the same that convey the same concepts.

But something happened in the past few decades, to the chagrin of many who used to count themselves as part of that side of the political spectrum. Recent years have seen many ‘Leaving the Left’ these are what could truly be described as Liberal in the definitional meaning of the word.

The emergence of the Left’s authoritarian tendencies has been accelerated as of late with a new generation indoctrinated in the control of others gaining prominence after the Parkland mass murder. The nation’s Left has always been selective in who should be able to defend themselves: Gun Control’s Racist History but the last decade has seen a marked increase in their zeal to deprive the people of this basic human Liberty. They’ve also changed over from that of defending free-speech to wanting tighter controls over it.

The gradual transition from Liberal to Leftist.

This change from being ‘Liberal’, championing the culture of Liberty to one of being desirous of power over the people has been gradual. But it was accelerated by the Parkland Kinds movement. It’s axiomatic that one does not listen to children for advice simply because they lack any kind of life experience. This is not a slight to them, but merely a statement of fact. They are unaware of why things are a certain way or why things are done in a certain way.

Nevertheless, the opportunity presented by their emergence on the public scene was far too enticing for the Leftists to pass up. Here they had an unassailable group with supposed morally superiority because of their emotional victim status. The problem became one of out of sequence messaging. The marches they conducted were replete with signs calling for Gun Confiscation as well as attendees unaware of the correct talking points that avoid mentioning this subject. So while many still parroted the “We’re not talking about taking everyone’s’ guns” Lie, there were plenty who were actually honest about the Left’s final solution to the gun problem.

Still worse, this movement which was ostensibly of these children branched out to attack the culture of Liberty because it undergirds this fundamental human right. Unaware as they were that they are supposed to champion Liberty with the self-laudatory label of ‘Liberal’, they began going after free-speech as well as the free-market. These actions clearly outed the Left as being authoritarian. We on the Pro-Liberty, Conservatarian-Right had known this to be the case for years now. But with these moves others took notice of the change.

[Part II will address some of the major aspects of the Left’s assault on Liberty Culture]

 

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Democrats

DNC Vice-Chair adds Democratic Socialism to the Democrat agenda

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When Sen. Bernie Sanders announced his plan to guarantee every American who “wants or needs one” a lifetime government job paying at least $15/hour plus paid medical, retirement, and vacation benefits, many shrugged it off as the rantings of a socialist loon. However, as a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist, Bernie truly believes in the Marxist ideals he promoted during his 2016 presidential campaign, as do millions of other Constitutionally ignorant voters.

Lately, Marxist ideas like this one from Sanders have been gaining increasing acceptance by the Democrat party and a handful of 2020 presidential hopefuls within the party. For example, Sen. Cory Booker adopted Bernie’s plan, but he would like to test it as a pilot program first in 15 high-unemployment communities across America, which most likely means Democrat-controlled communities.

In what has become a theme this week at the Strident Conservative, Democrats are unabashedly embracing socialist ideology, essentially making it their official party platform, as we witnessed in Tuesday’s primaries in Pennsylvania. And since Democrats are winning while using this Marxist platform, Democratic Socialists are bringing us closer to becoming the United Socialist States of America.

Feeling this shift in momentum, the national arm of the Democrat party is now getting into the act. With government-guaranteed jobs established as a part of their agenda, the Democrat National Committee is setting its sights on private-sector jobs as the next capitalist target to take down.

Yesterday, Louis Farrakhan’s favorite Democrat and the Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee Rep. Keith Ellison, announced in an interview with Bloomberg that he wants the government to regulate the pay structure of private companies, particularly CEO compensation.

“I think it is a very good idea, and I think we should start talking about it. But I want to go further than that; I’d like to see shareholders say, ‘Wait a minute, what’s going on with my dividend? What kind of risks are you taking on to get these exorbitant amounts of money that could end up imperiling the company?’

“This is a broad conversation that needs to, of course, take in policymakers like me, but shareholders and investors need to be worried about this too because I don’t think this leads to the overall health of the company. I think it takes care of a few people at the very tip-top.”

This isn’t Ellison’s first socialist rodeo. When specifically asked back in January about the rise of groups like the Democratic Socialists of America and how it might impact the Democrat Party, Ellison praised them for their work.

“How does it affect the Democratic Party? Well, it enhances us, because it means that more people are engaged, more people are involved. … So, no matter who’s organizing who, as long as the folks are organizing for an agenda of a fair economy and an inclusive society, it’s going to benefit the Democratic Party. And yes, they’re going to impact the Democratic Party.”

With socialism growing in acceptance with younger voters, and since Republicans have become enablers of the Democrats, we could be witnessing the last days of our great Republic.

Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

 


David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

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