Statement on the Loudoun County Public Schools “Equitable” Assessment

Our County is discussing a report about how “equitable” are our Loudoun County Public Schools.

The Report says that we have not been “equitable” or “sensitive.”

After all this nation has gone through on civil rights, how is it possible that Virginia still is trying to figure this out at this late date, so long after the war between the states?

Eric Williams, the Superintendent of our billion dollar school system, concluded that the school staff has “a low level of racial consciousness and racial literacy.”

Amazingly, the report says, in this day and age, that “people are unclear and fearful on how to participate in conversations about race, let alone respond to racially charged incidents.”

I taught High School for several years in the late 60s and 70s.

There is nothing mysterious about how to be fair and impartial to students unless you are neither fair nor impartial.

The Report makes it clear that there has been disproportionate discipline for students of color but especially African-American students.

Students reported that they were the targets of “racist comments and acts of violence from both their peers and teachers.”  Not just other students but their own teachers.  What kind of teacher treats a student this way?

And here’s the rub.  “Nothing happens!”  So, the aggrieved students report.

White kids use the n-word and deny they did.

Persons of color are humiliated about their skin color and their hair.

One student said the teacher “told me to go back to my country.  I was in shock, I was born here.”

This is not computer science.

This is common sense.

Sanction the students who use the n-word or threaten other students with assault or abuse.  These offenses are serious infractions and there must be punishment up to and including expulsion.

The teacher who told a student to go back where he came from, well that case is simple, fire that teacher.  The teacher and student will both learn something from such punishment.

If persons can get away with this kind of misconduct without any rule or regulation or discipline that punishes their misconduct, we can expect more of the same.

The schools must act firmly and quickly so that this misconduct ends now.

This report is a shame and a disgrace – it scars the reputation of this County and its citizens.

We have to clean up this mess and now.

Fire in the House

image1I’m originally from a neighborhood in the South Bronx. 143rd and Willis avenue was our first neighborhood. My Dad was the super for the building. We lived in what I described in a grammar school essay as a “picturesque” tenement. My dad said I was mistaken to use the word picturesque – I disagreed. My Dad was amused.

As these apartments were packed one on the other, 4 stories high, they were possible fire traps and there were notable tragedies for those tenements with no way to escape.

I think Congress is presently more like a tenement, hardly picturesque, my Dad I’m sure is nodding agreement from the hereafter, and our Republic is going up in flames for congress’ failure to follow its oath and to act In the manner dictated by our constitution.

My Dad who was a carpenter, electrician and a plumber often said a poor workman blames his tools.

The founders gave our Congress the tools to restrain a chief executive with a monarchical bent.

But our Congress doesn’t even use the tools the founders created for just this kind of circumstances.

Again about tenements. What saved tenements from the fear and danger of fire were fire escapes that not only could and did save families.

(Incidentally, these fire escapes, for us kids, was like having open air balconies – as good as any populating the elevator towers on the east side silk stocking district – it was our place of freedom and, yes, escape.) Continue reading

The Virginia Plantation

Leesburg Martin Luther King Day parade, 2015

Leesburg Martin Luther King Day parade, 2015

We “celebrate” Labor Day but it’s a false “celebration”– a sham.

In Virginia, you can be fired at will.

Women are not paid an equal wage or salary as compared to men.

If you’re a person of color and a woman, don’t be surprised if you are treated differently.

If you speak up, you can expect HR (Human Resources) will find some pretext to investigate you.

Companies fight to keep the minimum wage as minimum as they can.

Health care and insurance ever since World War II is tied to your employment, tying you down to work for your benefactor employer.

When you age, if your company puts you in a supervisory position, they can can you despite your age because of that promotion.

If you are a woman, your pregnancy is treated as an illness, not a natural and welcome event.

The company may not give you an agreement but they will obligate you not to compete in a region or the nation for a period of time that relates to your business when you separate from the company. Continue reading

Scrub the Water, Enrich the Soil

The Potomac from the Virginia side

The Potomac from the Virginia side

The Chesapeake Bay carries a load of “nutrients,” waste, that compromise the Bay.

Virginia has recently decided to devote $73 million to underwrite voluntary efforts by farmers and landowners to follow best management practices (BMPs) to keep the water clear and the soil rich close to home so that our streams emptying into the Potomac don’t compromise the Bay.

This soil and water conservation program is for farmers and landowners in Loudoun County.

There are similar programs across Virginia, in Maryland, and in every state across the nation.

Loudoun County has been assigned $1 Million to do what it can to make a difference; this is a serious effort; last year the allotment for Loudoun County was about half that amount.

So this is a great opportunity for property owners to make a real difference for the better in Loudoun as the waters here flow into the Potomac and then into the Chesapeake Bay. Continue reading

The Killing Fields

jonflan911When 9-11 occurred, the Bush White House saw an opportunity to scare folks into supporting the Patriot Act that compromised American freedoms – having nothing to do with national security.

Now that we’ve had this most recent shooting, Trump and his minions are working up alternative arguments, like immigration would make a difference, and talking about domestic terrorism, and giving lip service to mental health. INTENDING – to do nothing – AGAIN – to change our gun laws.

Just wait out the passions – that’s their game – get through August – and nothing will happen – like nothing has happened every time before.

Today, there are reports that we have people running for cover at Times Square because of a back fire.

America is in a panic.

Australia spun on a dime when their national security was at risk. Reform was a nationwide almost overnight phenomenon.

America spins its wheels – no matter the terror, death and destruction.

We have to re-set the gun culture to a base line that may be further reduced.

Continue reading

Where Are the Heroes Now?

Edgar Mitchell on the Moon

Edgar Mitchell on the Moon

In 1957, a brilliant silver ornament streaked across the sky and my still young eyes could see what we learned was Sputnik, a Russian satellite.

The space race was on and many of us wanted to go to space, to know about physics, to fly if we could.

This was the new frontier, our own Wild West now tamed, that exploration concluded, we were setting out on the imaginary path implanted in our young minds by those old style black and white Buster Crabbe “Buck Rogers” flicks.  But this was the real deal, we were really going to do it. Continue reading

Republicans Shut Down Gun Safety Legislative Session

Richmond_protest

“Moms demand action” drew red-shirted supporters from Lovettsville and across the Commonwealth to convene in Richmond for a special session ordered by Governor Ralph Northam to pass gun safety legislation.

They came in buses and cars on July 9, 2019, the day scheduled for the General Assembly to take action. Continue reading

The Fourth – What Independence Really Meant!

John Hancock signature as shown on the engrossed copy of the US Declaration of IndependenceThe Fourth of July is a pageant celebrating our independence from an Imperial nation that denied us self-rule, dignity and freedom.

It’s a time of marching bands, waving flags, capped with cloud-brushing, soaring multicolored flashes of fireworks, lighting the night sky, to the sound of oohs and aahs from crowds across the nation.

It evokes the language of the declaration hammered out in a hot Philadelphia Hall, striking and revising the words of Thomas Jefferson, setting forth who we believed we were as a nation aborning.

We must reflect upon the sentiments of that grand occasion, and how we may fulfill those worthy sentiments today when our independence is at risk from within and from without, including, according to intelligence sources and a Senate Committee, a foreign nation state, Russia, that interfered in our elections.

When we declared our independence, we said we believed that we are all “created equal.” We have struggled since to perfect that sentiment, but of late, persons of color, Muslims and women are treated as suspect by some.

We should respect the notion that “prudence” does dictate that “governments long established,” as ours, “should not be changed for light and transient causes,” but we watch critical functions in the Executive Department compromised or destroyed by Cabinet Officers and the Chief Executive.

Our declaration of independence declared, “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Continue reading

Isolated in a cage

childincage

In your most imaginative and resourceful childhood, could you imagine what it would be like to be separated from your parents, and, perhaps for the first time in your life, think they can’t protect you, and find, in the best circumstance, that you’re helpless, hungry, cold, in a cage like you’d keep a dog at a pound, without hope that you’ll see your parents again if anyone knows who or where they are?

Politicians say these are not as bad as concentration camps.  Now there’s a standard as craven as any I’ve heard.

But this is a species of cruelty, no question about that, that comports all too comfortably with a kind of government that treats children this way.

So, this is Sunday, and it’s many years since I was a child and went to Mass in the Bronx every Sunday.  Indeed for a long time, I went to Mass daily, at 6 am, fasting as was the ritual then, before going to class.  The values were deeply imbedded in my soul.  I stopped when the values I cherished were not so evident in these places of “worship.”  I don’t go to church anymore – as Church I’ve found gets in the way of a spiritual experience.  But I still think about the charity that was at the heart of my religious upbringing.  I test friends and faux religious speakers by their acceptance of the sermon on the mount – a worthy set of values.

But where is that humane or religious sensitivity in the abuse of children at our southern border?

Echoing the words of the Sermon, if we are the salt of the earth, have we lost our savor, and are we destined to be trodden under the foot for having lost our way? Continue reading

MORE THAN A SAUNTER – the AT – 2,192 miles

A Fall view from the Appalachian Trail nearby

A Fall view from the Appalachian Trail nearby

Last Saturday, Lovettsville residents and citizens from across Loudoun County, indeed across Virginia and other states as close as Maryland and as far away as Georgia, traveled to Round Hill to celebrate the Appalachian Trail.

This time it was not about the toxic fracking gas pipelines that are crossing and compromising and desecrating the trail with erosion and pollution.

There was only a hint of the EQT and Nextra’s proposed 300-mile $3.2-Billion Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), a pipe almost four feet in diameter, carrying dangerous odorless fracked gas from West Virginia that threatens the trail and the environment.

Work on the MVP pipeline

Work on the MVP pipeline

There was no talk about how there was a taking of the land by eminent domain, nor the legitimate complaints about the proposed pipe’s adverse effects including air pollution, soil erosion, groundwater contamination, terrible noise levels, lowered property values, and possible onsite accidents including gas explosions like has already occurred in Appomattox, Virginia.   Continue reading