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School Hasn’t Changed in 100 Years. So Saith TFA.

Part of the education reform narrative is that “school has not changed in the past 100 years.”

Consider this from the Teach for America (TFA) website:

School Hasn’t Changed in 100 Years

Students and families count on school to give children agency to lead and shape a better future for themselves. Yet our schools were never designed to unleash the potential of all children. Schools weren’t designed to meet the diverse needs of millions of students who rely on them today. They weren’t designed to help children facing challenges of poverty overcome those obstacles and access opportunity in a dynamic, global world. And our public school system is remarkably impervious to innovation, adaptation, and change.

TFA is the brainchild of Princeton graduate, Wendy Kopp, who wrote her undergraduate thesis on the idea. I first heard of TFA in 1991 when a college friend of mine who graduated with a degree outside of education told me that he was signing up to teach for two years in a city with a teacher shortage on a provisional certificate with TFA. It sounded fine to me, even altruistic.

Ten years later, by 2001, TFA had shifted its mission to that of cultivating its alumni to seek positions of influence, such as superintendentships, in order to influence education, including education policy. Two years of token teaching would be enough for these bright, capable leaders to advocate and produce change. Of course, this stance also leverages TFA’s power as an organization. For example, TFA alum who become superintendents can clear out a department of education and bring in other TFAers for outsized titles and cozy salaries.

For all of its marketing a need for change in the American K12 classroom, in 30 years, TFA has never made a concerted push to get its alumni to remain in the K12 classroom. As far as the classroom itself is concerned, TFA is apparently fine with manufacturing endless churn as TFAer come and go, riding on a crash course in teaching and without having earned a certificate for the first of those two years, all paid for by schools and districts (and here and here) above and beyond each TFAer a teacher’s salary. TFAers have been taught, however, that test scores are the end-all, be-all, and that their limited classroom experience (limited by time and situation) lends to envisioning themselves as education saviors who are superior to career teachers (i.e., saviors who forego saving rather quickly, but saviors, nonetheless).

But back to the “school hasn’t changed in 100 years” pitch:

That narrative is ridiculous on its face. School reflects society, and over the last 100 years, schools have become increasingly responsible for addressing (combatting? Correcting?) the ills of society. Add to that increased usage of technology; expectation that schools must administer and be graded by annual wave after wave of standardized test scores; changes in legal responsibilities for special populations and minors in general; cuts in funding, and the education reform atmosphere of school- and teacher-blaming, and not only have schools changed in 100 years; school has changed quite a bit over the last three decades since I began teaching in 1991.

Let’s go back 100 years and note a few changes in American education. My namesake finished school in New Orleans in 1923. A few observations from what I know of this time and of her experience:

  • The expected, terminal grade level was eighth grade.
  • No auxiliary services were provided, including lunch or transportation.
  • There was no such thing as any accommodation for a special population. Students not deemed “normal” could be denied admittance.
  • Schools provided no mental health services, and students who missed school due to illness were not entitled to opportunities to recoup missed work.
  • Corporal punishment was expected, endorsed, and utilized.
  • There was no “mixing of the races,” with white citizens leveraged to advantage, including in educational experience.

Is this where we are in 2021, TFA?

Of course, there was also no computerized instruction, no internet until my time in graduate school in the mid-1990s. Drills for dangers, such as atomic bombs, came decades later, and active shooter drills, even later than that.

When I attended elementary and middle school in southern Louisiana in the 1970s, there was a push for self-directed, individually-paced learning and for open classrooms. So, my experience for much of my elementary and middle school years involved kits and packets and consultation with my teachers, sometimes one-on-one, and sometimes, in small groups. This mode worked well for me but was a nightmare for students who required more structure (not to mention the “classrooms without walls” idea made for a chaotic scene when trying to keep track of students, who could easily wander from one open classroom to the next on more social missions).

Standardized testing was not the center of my own K12 educational experience, but that is certainly not true for my students in 2021-22.

When I began teaching in 1991, there was no dumping of millions of dollars annually into standardized testing, and test prep, and grading of schools and teachers using student test results. That misguided, punitive focus would come a decade later with George W. Bush’s bipartisan monster, No Child Left Behind (NCLB). According to NCLB, America should have reached that perfect 100 percent proficiency in reading and math by 2014– seven years ago. By 2007, the NCLB party was over, and politicians did not want to touch it.

So much change.

For most of my teaching career, there was no Google Meet with simultaneous, in-person instruction. No incessant interruption (and competition) from student use of iPhones and iPods in class. No cyberbullying to contend with, and no interference of social media with the activities of the school day. No wireless availability problems in the classroom. No sophisticated cheating enabled by the internet to contend with. But these complications are a daily reality for me now.

Perhaps those who maintain that school has not changed in a century are hung up on the desk arrangement of all seats facing the teacher. Ironically, the center for Disease Control (CDC) COVID protocol requires all desks facing one way, a rather inconvenient, constrictive way to arrange a classroom for many teachers.

American public education has its challenges, but to say that the K12 classroom has been “impervious to change” over the last century is to promote a lie in order to advance oneself as the solution.

However, in promoting the lie, TFA cuts itself off at the kneees:

Since TFA has been around for three decades, in stating that “school hasn’t changed in 100 years,” TFA is admitting its own failure to impact “school” over the course of the last 30 of those 100 years.

And yet, TFA boasts $406M in end-of-year assets for 2019-20 and paid its top 10 executives a combined $3.2M.

Market-based education reform organizations like TFA suffer from the passage of time. They sell themselves as the solution, but if they retain the narrative that education hasn’t changed yet even though they have been sucking in millions over the course of 30 years in the name of change, it begs the question of why, exactly, anyone would continue to beef up their assets.

Time for a change.

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Want to sharpen your digital research skills? I have a book for that!  See my latest, A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies, available for purchase on Amazon and via Garn Press!

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Ida’s Wild Ride, a Pandemic, and I Want my Kids to Write.

I thought my wireless was back up and running a few days ago, but ’twas not to be. Only for one day, and down again. So, in order to write a post on my computer (as opposed to using my iPhone), I have less than an hour sitting in a ghost town of a room at my gym.

My district resumes classes tomorrow (09-13-21) after two weeks out for Hurricane Ida’s wild ride. As for goals for my students, my mind is on one in particular: My students need to write.

I have a major research assignment planned for my seniors, but it seems that life ups the ante when it comes to challenges in workshopping my students with a major research paper. First is the fact that young people chiefly communicate in abbreviations suited to brief bits of info conveyed via texting and social media. Forget complete sentences, spelling, and proper grammar and puntuation.

Next is the incredible ease with which online technology has streamlined the ability to cheat or to plaigiarize. Why actually learn when any number of websites or applications will help one avoid learning, many of them for free? I feel like my job is increasingly more of a forensic gig in ferreting out the latest means to secure fabulous grades while ensuring one’s own ignorance.

A third issue for me this year (and for many of my colleagues) involves large class sizes. My classes are the largest that I have ever had in my entire teaching career, and this in the midst of the Delta variant. I have managed to arrange my classroom for decent spacing, but in the case of workshopping writing, I wonder, how will I be able to adequately assist each individual student? Last year, this workshopping experience had me as close to burnout as I have come yet. I did not burn out, and I do not plan to do so this year. However, the challenge before me is daunting.

I do have a couple of points of leverage. First of all, I feel supported by my school administration. My class is not micromanaged, which gives me room to have the margin necessary to (re)arrange in order to try to ensure an environment conducive to learning. Secondly, I have cultivated a relationship with my students, which really matters when I need to enlist their assistance in helping me help them learn. (This relationship cultivation even helps when I am working to ferret out the cheating– there seems to always be some student for whom the teacher-student relational respect overcomes the temptation to lie to me or to otherwise keep quiet.)

So, it is tough. Ida’s wild ride piled it on at a time when COVID had already piled it on. but I will continue to navigate the wildness in an effort to do what teachers do– create classroom conditions conducive to learning.

And my students will write.

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Want to sharpen your digital research skills? I have a book for that!  See my latest, A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies, available for purchase on Amazon and via Garn Press!

Follow me on Twitter (don’t be scared) @deutsch29blog

After the Storm: What Is That SMELL??

On Monday, September 6, at 6 p.m., power was restored to my home nine days after Hurricane Ida took it away with a fury.

On Wednesday, September 8, at around 4 p.m., my land line and internet service were restored. So, I am back in business as usual, sort of.

In the minutes after my power came back on, I was unavoidably made aware of another presence in my home– the pungent aroma of feline urine and feces emanating from beneath the steps of my split-level house, pulled into my residence through my air conditioning.

Wonderful.

It was awful– a smell that made me wonder exactly how many feral cats it would take to produce it.

Perhaps only one, taking refuge beneath my house and repeatedly losing its bladder and bowels during a horrific, 11-hour storm and in the days following. Perhaps one cat decided that the locale made a perfect home after dark, where it relieved itself repeatedly. I don’t know.

At first, I wondered if a feral cat had somehow managed to make its way into my attic and into my AC ductwork. My neighbor helped me check out my attic, and it smelled better up there than in my house.

Definitely coming from under those steps, which are located right smack in the middle of my house without reasonable crawl space.

My neighbor and I came up with a plan: Use 20 feet of 3/4″ PVC pipe to funnel 3 quarts of Pine Sol under those steps to both dilute the smell and chase away any cat that might still regard the space as home.

It has been just over 24 hours since we dropped our Pine Sol bomb. The steps and door frame no longer smell of cat pee and poop. However, the attached back hallway and one room off of that hallway are not adequately connected to my air conditioning, so a tamed-down version of that funky smell remains in my home, chiefly near the ceiling. I have tried fans and closing doors to try to get my AC intake to draw in the air. All that happened was that it stirred it up.

It does seem that the back hallway celing has less of the smell. I think that is only because the stench decided to vacation near the celing in the adjacent, underventilated room. I just used a step ladder to conduct a celing air check (sounds so official– my standing on a ladder and sniffing the air), and boy howdy, the smell mear the ceiling in said room smells like ripe, airborne litter box.

Solution for now: I’ll stay off of the step ladder and enjoy and appreciate lower-level air in my home.

Next step: Use the air purifiers that I bought for my COVID classroom to see if they might neutralize the funk.

It amazes me how smells migrate. While working on my doctorate in Greeley, Colorado, near the Monfort meat packing plant, that slaughterhouse smell could find its way into the middle of a room despite doors and windows being closed. Baffling.

I am grateful to have electicity again and mindful of the many who do not in nearby cities. I appreciate not spending several hours each day laundering clothes in my kitchen sink and bathtub, or going on the hunt for ice or gasoline, or filling gallon jugs of water to manually flush the toilet. Nevertheless, when I had to do these things in order to keep life going for my mother and me, I am grateful that I was able to make it work, as taxing and tiring as it was.

On this 56th anniversary of Hurricane Betsy, I hope its a good, long while before I face another Ida, and I look forward to all rooms in my home smelling Ida-free.

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Want to sharpen your digital research skills? I have a book for that!  See my latest, A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies, available for purchase on Amazon and via Garn Press!

Follow me on Twitter (don’t be scared) @deutsch29blog

After the Storm: Ice, Ice, Baby.

Today marked a week since Hurricane Ida made landfall in southern Louisiana.

Still no power for my neighborhood. However, there have been power trucks on my street. It’s just so much destruction. Huge trees entangled in power lines. Numerous lines draping across streets. That noted, progress is obvious. Electrical lines, poles, and transformers are being replaced and repaired. Power is being restored. Lines at gas stations are much more manageable since fewer homes are on generators and since more filling stations are in operation.

Ice is still a scarce commodity, but I have struck paydirt on that front; my neighbor works for a utility company, and that company is having ice brought in from Alabama an 18-wheeler at a time.

I had to empty both of my freezers. Had the power been out for a few days, no problem. (I froze containers of water in preparation for the storm, but this method is best suited to a day or two.) I turned my small freezer into a cozy fridge for that which is easily perishable (milk, yogurt, cold cuts). The actual refrigerators I use for that which need not be kept so cold, including what is cold by preference. Now that I have an abundance of ice, the division is less critical.

I have learned that bagged ice can create quite the mess if it leaks as it melts. So, ice bags are set inside of pans. Even if the bags do not leak, the condensation can create a minor mess, so I have towels handy in front of the fridge and even inside under some pans.

The lessons we learn.

The first frozen items to go bad were two containers of peeled shrimp from my mother’s house. The lids came loose, and boy, what a rancid smell. I had a time ridding the house of the stench, and I did not want the rotting seafood in my garbage can (which would hold said stench), so I tied it up in plastic bags and set it further back on my property (I have just over an acre).

When I went to retrieve it to place it near my garbage pickup location, I discovered it missing, bag and all. I suppose some raccoon thought it a real prize and carried it away.

One of the greatest inconveniences in the aftermath of a major hurricane concerns temperature control: The house and fridge are hot; dinner and the shower are cold, and beverages are lukewarm.

But today, my friends, today, I have lots of ice, ice, baby. 😉

After the Storm: Waiting.

Today marked the fifth day since Hurricane Ida made landfall as a Category 4 (almost 5) storm in southern Louisiana.

The experience has altered my concept of time.

First is the waiting for electricity to be restored to my residence. That’s the big wait that is on everyone’s minds. However, when the quieting reality sets in that the big wait is one of weeks, not days (and certainly not hours), then many smaller yet critical waits become a central life focus. For example, I learned that a particular grocery gets an ice delivery in the mornings. I was told 10AM, only to discover the following morning that ice was unexpectedly delivered early and I’d missed it. No bagged ice for my fridge and freezer that day. So, the next morning, I awoke early so that I might arrive at the grocery before 8AM so that I could wait. And that’s what I did. I had planned to wait as long as two hours, but the ice delivery again came early (8:17AM), and I was the first to garner my two-bag-per-household limit.

On Wednesday, I waited for three hours at a gas station that had gas but no power to the pumps. A generator was on its way— with no expected time of arrival. It’s like some post-storm-necessity game of chicken, and I lost that round.

On Thursday, while driving to a post office that seemed to be collecting mail, I found a line of cars waiting for gas, and the line was short— only 30 cars waiting for one of about 16 pumps. It was kismet. (Not unusual to have a wait time of several hours and maybe be told all gas is gone.) Fifteen minutes later, I was filling my tank with the most expensive gas the station sold. (The folks with multiple 10-gallon cans for operating generators had drained the regular and plus grades dry.)

Gasoline and ice are hot commodities post-storm. For these, one must strategically and purposely wait.

There are other waits. The waiting as one treats all nonfunctional traffic lights as four-way stops. The waiting as a two-lane road becomes one lane here and there fir power lines dangling in the street, or for the many utility trucks and workers trying to restore that coveted electricity. The waiting for the local post office to unlock the rarely-locked front door so that patrons might check their boxes. The waiting for hand washed laundry to dry dryerless. The waiting to step back into a world broader than spending hours strategizing and laboring for the basics of daily life.

There is a lot to be said for learning to wait well. Like most of what really matters in practical life, waiting well transcends educational grading schemes.

After the Storm

Hurricane Ida hit four days ago. I’m able to post this using my phone, which I can recharge by plugging into 200 feet of extension cord coming from my neighbors’ house. (They installed a generator that runs on natural gas just two weeks ago.) it’s 85 degrees in my house, but as a result of that generous extension cord offer, I have the luxury of an oscillating fan. My mother is staying with me, as are her five chicks hatched a few weeks ago. They are in a cage in my living room, with a light compliments of said extension cord.

School is “closed until further notice.” I found out from a woman kind enough to look up the school website on her phone, which was functional since the tower of her carrier made it through the storm. We were both waiting in line to enter the hardware store the day after Ida. Like most people, she was there to buy a generator. I needed batteries for numerous devices now of primary importance post-Ida’s-wrath-on-everything-electrical.

When COVID hit, it seemed that much of American ed, our district included, viewed online learning delivered via laptop as the solution, not only during a pandemic, but also as the solution for dodging any ills that might close school. However, remote education is heavily dependent upon infrastructure that can be destroyed in a moment by the likes of Ida— electricity is the biggie, with the (not really) wireless a near second.

Miles and miles of mangled poles, towers, and wires.

And no one is talking “learning loss.” But there sure is a lot of creative problem solving happening and loads of neighborly kindness.

Living through difficult situations is its own education. Seems like that ought to go without saying.

Cheating Is Harder When Your Teacher Is Not an Idiot.

When I chose teaching as my profession, I did not anticipate the amount of energy I would expend to confront and quash cheating. But then, I began my career before Google revolutionized students’ abilities to deprive themselves of actual learning.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the 2020-21 school year, our school district began using Google Classoom as the primary vehicle of instruction for teaching and learning. Students were assignmed Chromebooks with restricted settings, and by way of Google Classroom, teachers could choose to lock those Chromebooks when students were assigned a quiz.

The only problem is the all-or-nothingness of locking the Chromebook if the quiz includes a research component requiring use of the internet. As a teacher, at this point, I cannot approve certain sites and block others in order to facilitate the security of my research-based quiz in Google Classroom.

What I learned this week was that some of my students had copied and pasted test items into sites such as Quizlet and were able to get Quizlet to take their test for them. Of course, the problem for them was that I am not an idiot, and I do notice that as the school day proceeds, increasingly more of my students have become geniuses at taking my test, some even at record speed.

And since I am not a machine but an actual human being who cultivates relationships with my students, I am able to get confessions out of some when I speak with them one-on-one. Then, when I delete that marvelous perfect or near-perfect test grade from those I suspect have cheated and get no blowback whatsoever– just sheepish looks– well, it’s then that I know that it is I who have actually learned a lesson via online “instruction,” so to speak.

What my students learned is that I will now lock their Chromebooks during those quizzes and that they will have to go “old school” and have any notes and such written only on paper as opposed to accessing info via links and pdf documents.

There will be no more education-depriving back door for copying and pasting test questions because their teacher is committed to providing opportunities to learn– whether her students value them or not.

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Want to sharpen your digital research skills? I have a book for that!  See my latest, A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies, available for purchase on Amazon and via Garn Press!

Follow me on Twitter (don’t be scared) @deutsch29blog

Teen Heroes

In this pandemic-riddled time of readily-abundant bad news, let’s have a bit of the uplifting, shall we?

To this end, I offer enticing excerpts from several stories celebrating the heroic (often split-second) actions of a number of teens.

Follow the links or watch the videos for full details and feel encouraged about the generation who seem to be umbilically melded to their iPhones.

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Scotch Plains (NJ) Teen Saves Man Whose Kayak Overturned on Jersey Shore (VIDEO)

August 22, 2021

MANASQUAN, NJ — What started as a family fishing trip on Saturday would up being a life-saving adventure for 19-year-old Anton Zambell, a Scotch Plains resident who was in the right place at the right time to rescue a man whose kayak had overturned in waters off Manasquan. 

Around 7:00 a.m. Zambell, his dad, and his younger brother, Jordan, were taking their boat through the Manasquan inlet when he noticed a man holding onto a kayak that had flipped over when a motorboat roared past him. The kayaker could not flip his boat back over to the upright position and was barely able to hold on, according to Zambell.

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Stow (OH) Teen Saves Mother and Son While Vacationing in North Carolina

A Stow teenager is being credited for saving the lives of a mother and son while on vacation in the Carolinas. Travis Shrout saw the two struggling while swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, so he sprang into action to help. WKYC Channel 3 (Cleveland and Northeast Ohio).

From the July 15, 2021, Akron Beacon Journal:

A Stow teen only served as a lifeguard for a year and a half, but that training and a great amount of adrenaline took over earlier this month when he saved two people from drowning at a North Carolina beach. 

On July 3, Travis Shrout, a Stow-Munroe Falls High School graduate and a rising sophomore at Hiram College, was spending his last day at the beach with his family in Topsail Beach, North Carolina.

The 18-year-old had spent the day catching waves on bodyboards with his brother and a family friend, and noticed that the waves were a little rougher than usual. 

Everyone decided to go back to shore, but family friend Thad Unkefer asked Shrout to go back out so that Unkefer could try a new tracking feature on his drone. 

Shrout swam out with his bodyboard and noticed Ashley Batchelor of North Carolina and her 10-year-old son, Conner, were farther out into the ocean and seemed to be struggling.

“I thought I heard ‘help’ but it was such a weird situation. I said, ‘Are you alright?’ and she said, ‘No,'” Shrout said. “I immediately started swimming out to her.” 

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Teen Saves Neighbor’s Life after House Catches Fire from Lightning Strike

July 09, 2021

WEBSTER, N.Y. – Isabella Marlin happened to be awake early on July 6 when a nearby home was struck by lightning, starting a raging fire. Not only did the teenager jump into action, but she’s being hailed a hero for saving her neighbor’s life.

According to Marlin, she had just returned home from a late-night flight, which was delayed two hours, and was upstairs unpacking when she noticed the flames. 

“I just started yelling to my parents that our neighbor’s house is on fire,” Marlin told FOX Television Stations. 

Her family called 911 while she ran to the burning home and started pounding on her neighbor’s door. 

“It was really scary. I didn’t know what to do at first,” Marlin shared. “When it hit, I was like, ‘Oh my God, there’s probably someone in the house. I need to go and get them out before anything happens.’” 

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Teen Saves His Mom’s Life Using Hands-Only CPR He Learned in School

June 01, 2020

It was late August 2019, and Saturday morning in the Walenga household was off to its typical All-American start. Kristen Walenga sent her husband off to work and geared up for her team mom duties as she made breakfast for her four children. Her daughter Rose, 14, got ready upstairs for cheerleading pictures and her youngest sons, Sam, 11, and Nate, 9, ran around outside to burn some energy before their youth football game.

The family’s eldest child, Eddie, 15, was in the basement playing video games when he heard a loud crash coming from the kitchen above him, followed by screams for help from his younger brothers who had just come inside. Then the family pet, a certified therapy dog, started howling. That’s when Eddie realized this wasn’t a typical Saturday at all.

He raced up the basement stairs to find his mom in a heap on the floor, and his two little brothers standing there in disbelief. At first, they thought their mother was just playing around.

Eddie, who had taken a Hands-Only CPR class a few years earlier in middle school, quickly realized his mom wasn’t breathing and had no pulse.

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Just One Day after Completing CPR Training, a Teen Saves Her Friend’s Life

March 19, 2021

(CNN)With 30 compressions and two rescue breaths, 16-year-old Torri’ell Norwood saved her best friend’s life, just a day after completing a basic life support class at her high school.”I never would have thought that I would be the one, out of all the students in my class to have to perform it on someone,” she said.Norwood was driving three friends home in St. Petersburg, Florida, on February 20 when another driver slammed into her from her left and sent her car careening.

“We crashed in someone’s yard and I hit the tree,” Norwood said.

The impact jammed shut the driver’s side door, so Norwood climbed out the front window. Two of her friends managed to get out of the car unharmed, but the collision caused her 16-year-old friend A’zarria Simmons to hit her head on the backseat window.

“When I turned around, I didn’t see A’zarria running with us,” Norwood told CNN. “So, I had to run back to the car as fast as I can. She was just sitting there unresponsive.”

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Lincoln (NE) Teen Saves 7-year-old from Drowning in Local Pond

July 19, 2021

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – A north Lincoln teen took quick action Sunday when he saw a 7-year-old drowning in a pond near 14th and Superior.

Abbie Wilson received a knock on her door Sunday evening, a knock she never expected. When she opened her door she found two teenage boys standing on her porch holding a child that was soaking wet.

“They had told us, they just pulled him out of the pond and he was under water and it looked like he was really struggling to get up and get some air,” Wilson said. …

But the story starts far before Wilson.

A 16-year-old boy, who we’re calling mystery man, jumped into the pond to save that little boys life.

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Teen Saves Young Girl From Being Led Away by ‘Creepy’ Stranger

June 17, 2021

A young girl in England was rescued from a terrifying encounter thanks to the intervention of a quick-thinking onlooker.

According to The Liverpool Echo, 15-year-old Emma Carlile was walking home from her high school in Wallasey Village when she saw a child being approached by a man. …

The stranger reportedly told the girl, who looked to be around aged 11 or younger, that he was friends with her father.

“No, I don’t remember,” replied the young girl. But that didn’t stop the man. …

At that point, the child reportedly tried to take out her phone, possibly to call one of her parents. “No you don’t need to ring anyone, you know who I am, I’m your dad’s mate,” the man allegedly told her.

Suspecting that something was wrong with the encounter, Emma followed the pair around a corner.

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Thank you, teens, for taking risks for the well being of others.

For more uplifting tales about altruistic teens, Google “teen saves” and enjoy the read.

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Want to sharpen your digital research skills? I have a book for that!  See my latest, A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies, available for purchase on Amazon and via Garn Press!

Follow me on Twitter (don’t be scared) @deutsch29blog

La BESE Abruptly Adjourns Due to Unruly Public Response to Masking

On August 18, 2021, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) was supposed to consider whether it had the final say on masking requirements in Louisiana’s school and not the governor.

On August 02, 2021, Louisiana governor, Jon Bel Edwards, reinstated a statewide mask order indoors effective August 04, 2021, for all individuals aged five and older, with some exceptions (i.e., no mask when eating).

A number of individuals attending the meeting refused to abide by the governor’s mandate. BESE member Holly Boffy made the motion “Due to the fact that the audience has ignored the request to wear masks, I move that we adjourn the meeting.”

Amid yelling from the audience, Boffy’s motion was seconded.

Then, BESE member Ronnie Morris tried to reason with the audience: “As board members, we’re required to follow the protocol. We’re asking you guys to help us out,” adding, “personally, I’d like to hear from everybody here. The rest of the Board does, too. We’ve got to follow protocol. We ask you to consider that.”

Once the motion was seconded, the vote needed to happen. However, as BESE proceeded with the vote to adjourn, several individuals began talking and yelling at the BESE members, with one especially loud voice yelling, “We’ll wear the mask.”

Members of the audience continued to try to talk at BESE members straight from the audience. Another board member (Sandy Holloway ?) tried to reason with the audience, as did (it seems– hard for me to tell from the video) Superintendent Cade Brumley.

The audience continued to talk at BESE members and argue among themselves, and that was their undoing. BESE did indeed vote 8 – 2 to adjourn. (See the last five minutes of the BESE meeting video, starting at 2:14:00.)

As the August 18, 2021, Advocate reports, one BESE member said that the medical experts refused to testify in a room filled with maskless people. That reluctance ought to send a message to the unmasked, but if Louisiana’s rising COVID deaths and scarce ICU beds do not, then I am at a loss tho think what would.

The next BESE meeting is scheduled for October 2021. If those in attendance cannot manage themselves appropriately as audience members to a formal, public meeting, we might just have *deja vu all over again.*

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Want to sharpen your digital research skills? I have a book for that!  See my latest, A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies, available for purchase on Amazon and via Garn Press!

Follow me on Twitter (don’t be scared) @deutsch29blog

“Best for My Child” Unmasking: Like a “No Peeing” Section in a Pool.

About 20 years ago, I was driving across Colorado en route to Louisiana, and I stopped in Kit Carson, Colorado, to eat lunch.

I walked into a diner that was filled with the haze of smoking. A quick look around revealed that everyone in that diner was smoking except for me.

The man who waited on me pointed to a distant booth enveloped in the haze.

“That’s the non-smoking section.”

True. I was the only one seated in that section, and I was not smoking. No one else was nearby. Just me and the haze.

As effective as a “No Peeing” section in pool.

Tagging a booth as the “non-smoking section” without taking any steps to seal the area off from the smoke nixes the point of having a non-smoking section.

And yet, here we are in the midst of not just the COVID pandemic but the Delta variant version of the COVID pandemic, and we have parents wanting to unmask their children despite the advice of pediatricians and despite the fact that there are no pediatric beds available in the region, all in the name of parents “knowing what’s best for their own child.”

I realize I’m stepping in it (you know what “it” is) with this post.

I also know that every year, I have to complete professional development on child abuse, mistreatment, and neglect, so there must be some parents out there who either “don’t know” what’s best or don’t care to act upon what’s best for their children. And frankly, readers, parents not always acting in the best interests of their children hits home for me personally.

It’s why we have child labor laws, infant car seat laws, minimum drinking ages, and compulsory education.

Moreover, I believe it is possible for some parents to be so caught up in taking a political stand that they do not see the forest of completely-occupied pediatric ICU beds for the trees of My Rights.

And just like the smoke in that diner in Colorado, the Delta variant will find its way around a room.

You have a right to smoke. I have a right not to smoke. But let’s not ignore the smoky haze that envelops everyone– forcing me to become a de facto smoker. (I’ll forego extending the urine-in-pool metaphor.)

On August 13, 2021, a district court in Texas blocked the Fort Worth Independent School District’s (ISD) mask mandate for going against Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order forbidding Texas schools and districts from issuing mask mandates.

The whole parents-get-to-decide does not work if the parents cannot prevent their children from passing COVID on to other children.

I hate wearing a mask. Hate it. And I am among those who vaccinated and who are miffed at American adults who both refuse to be vaccinated and refuse to mask up. Viruses are able to mutate into worse versions so long as they have an ample, vulnerable population with which to work.

I am vaccinated. As a result, I am much less likely to end up with Delta COVID than is someone who is unvaccinated and much, much, less likely to land in one of those increasingly-scarce ICU beds if I do. But I wear my mask without needing any overtaxed hospital staff begging me to do so, and I apppreciate others who are joining me in this effort.

Still, here we go, America, with so many aiding a potential, new COVID variant that might make ICU-packing Delta look like the good ol’ days.

Parents, I hope that thoughts about your rights will occur in concert with your responsibilities to the children and families of others and to the greater good.

Smoking and nonsmoking sections in a Michgan diner. From “A Non-smoking Section in a Restaurant Is Like a No-peeing Section in a Pool…”

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