Tag Archives: sentators

Peace Offering to the Mississippi Legislature: Let’s Be as Happy as a Clam

PARCC is gone! As Gomer Pyle, the simple-minded auto mechanic from the Andy Griffith Show of the 1960’s, would say, “Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!” But, it’s not really a surprise. With the on-going struggles to deliver and receive the assessment electronically, inability to provide assessment results in a timely manner, failure to adequately address teacher fears and questions about the test, and growing parental concerns as well as mounting political pressure, it was only a matter of time before the PARCC assessment was dropped. If the Mississippi legislators have their way, the next task will be to bring to life the Commission on College and Career Readiness to oversee the development of not only a new assessment but new standards as well. The legislative promise of homegrown standards and assessments free of influence from Washington, standards and assessments more relevant to the children of Mississippi, and standards more satisfying to parents as well as the general public will be welcomed by many.  Although the legislators do not promise rigorous standards or assessments designed to improve Mississippi education, maybe they know best; maybe, they they do know what Mississippi needs after all.

My only hope is that the Governor and Lieutenant Governor will place people on the new commission with the expertise and experience to understand the magnitude and scope of creating/writing new standards and assessments. Of course, since this is a time sensitive project, I will be surprised if the Governor does not already have someone waiting in the wings with a set of user friendly standards ready to be rolled out and implemented across the state. Whatever the case may be, one thing is for sure – Mississippi needs a break from all the ill-will currently associated with education.  The best way to do that is for the new commission to develop assessments that are appealing to all stakeholders whether they create the standards from scratch or already have standards packaged and ready to be rolled out.

Therefore, I am extending the olive branch of peace, and to show my sincerity, I would like to offer a foolproof plan for selection of standards and creation of supporting state assessments. Hopefully, the powers in Jackson and their new commission will consider this plan or a similar plan for the peace of mind and good of all. It is time for the hostilities to end and get everyone on the same page, and I believe such a plan as the one I present below will do the job.

Plan to Development State Standards and Assessments:

  1. Step one: Develop or adopt new state standards. Legislators need to do whatever they think is best. The good teachers will continue to build rigor into their lessons regardless of the standards, the marginal teachers will be happy to follow whatever script they are presented, and the poor teachers will be thrilled that they can once again relax and enjoy the paycheck;
  2. Step two: Before final approval of the new standards, develop a battery of homework examples that support the new standards, and then administer the examples to the whole legislature including the Governor and Lieutenant Governor. If there are any homework problems the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, or legislators do not fully understand or they cannot work, throw the associated standards out;
  3. Step three: Next, administer the remaining homework examples to parents across the state. The easiest way to do this is through Facebook. There are more parents and people in general who are education authorities assembled on Facebook at any given time than there are anywhere in the world. We need to start using their expertise to our children’s advantage. If there are any homework problems the parents do not understand or cannot work, throw the standards associated to the overly problematic and/or rigorous homework out;
  4. Step four: Finally, administer the remaining homework examples to students. If any of the examples cause students to think longer than ten seconds, write more than two consecutive coherent sentences, or are so involved that they infringe on after school baseball, gymnastics, dance, bolo, chess, tennis, swimming, TV time, or any other nonacademic activity, throw out the standards associated to those homework examples;
  5. Step five: What is left will be the final draft of the state’s new standards. At this point, go ahead and print the standards. Step six is just a formality;
  6. Step six: The new commission can now submit their recommendations for the new standards to the State Superintendent of Education and the State Board of Education for their approval. Of course, since the State Superintendent and the State Board will only have authority to approve what is recommended to them by the commission, they will be compelled to pass the recommendations, which is exactly what we want them to do – right?; and
  7. Step seven: CELEBRATE! The Governor should lead the state in a celebration of this monumental accomplishment. Mississippians will finally be able to stand proudly and thumb their noses at Washington. Once again we will be a state of hospitality where our children peacefully reside on the bottom of the achievement ladder. There is nothing more appealing than submissive peace of mind.

I sincerely hope my plan will at least be considered; it should appease everyone. The students will not have to worry about being challenged, parents will not have to worry about their babies being subjected to academic stress or heaven forbid not getting an “A”, and state legislators will not have to worry about losing control to Washington or not having cheap labor available for years to come for the tax-exempt businesses they recruit to the state.   It’s time we accept that our state legislators have the people’s best interests in mind, and that they are the MAN! Everyone knows if you stand against the MAN, as singer/songwriter, John Prine, says, “You’re never gonna be as happy as a clam.” So, I encourage everyone to stand by the MAN and be “as happy as a clam!” Stand behind the good intentions of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and legislators who know and always will know better than the people and especially educators what is best for Mississippi.

JL

©Jack Linton, February 1, 2015

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A Casualty of War: The Takeover of Mississippi Education

The hostile attitude held by so many Republicans toward education in Mississippi is sickening. Their view that Mississippi educators have let the people of Mississippi down is preposterous. The lip service they pay to supporting public education is highly questionable. Their refusal to work hand in hand with state educators to fix education problems in favor of resolving issues on their own is dangerous. Their desire to tear down every existing education fence without first understanding why it was built is absolutely crazy. Their methods that often smell of Orwellian “Big Brother” is horrifying. That they are Mississippians waging war against fellow Mississippians is disheartening.

I have nothing against the Republican Party or the Democratic Party; over the years, I have probably voted Democrat or Republican an equal number of times. My vote has always gone to the man or woman I believed had the credentials, experience and integrity to lead and do what was right for the people. Lately though, with the lack of cooperation exhibited by both parties, I find support for either to be difficult. It is problematic for me to support what has become a messy Red and Blue political war at the expense of the American people. What went wrong with the political party system? How did politicians at both the national and state levels come to believe they know more about what is best for the people than the people? When was the Constitution amended to give Republicans or Democrats the power and authority to rule over the people rather than serve the people?

Some say it began with the election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States. That may be true, but I believe the roots go much deeper. I believe it began when we lost respect for ourselves as a nation and a people. Recently, I watched the combined United States House of Representatives and Senate act like bad-mannered schoolboys as they riddled the President’s State of the Union Address with unrelenting disrespectful side chatter. Members of Congress do not have to like the man in power, but the man in power is the President of the Greatest Nation the world has ever known, and he is the elected choice of the people. Regardless of the man, the office of the President deserves to be treated with respect, but maybe respect is too much to ask when apparently so many no longer respect themselves or the Congressional offices they hold.

Since 2009 when the childlike pettiness and mule-headed refusal to work together began to truly escalate, the party system (Democrat and Republican) in the United States and at the state level has served little purpose other than to take up space. In his Farewell Address, George Washington warned this would happen, “It (party) serves to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another. . . It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption . . . .” Doesn’t that sound exactly like both political parties at the national and state levels today? Their inconsequential jealousies and blatant animosity toward one another have nearly crippled our nation, and it is threatening to do the same to Mississippi.

The spirit of war that this jealousy and animosity has created between the Red (Republican) and Blue (Democrat) political parties is destroying the very foundation of our state. Unfortunately, in Mississippi, children, teachers, and school administrators are the first to be caught in the crossfire. Education has become a convenient rallying point for the Governor and Republicans’ obsessive fears of takeover by the extremes of the Obama socialist left on one side, and what they deem an incompetent education system that has strayed too far from the conservative values of the Republican Party on the other side. Yet, as the Republicans stage their own state takeover, they refuse to listen or work with state educators, and they propose bills just as heavy-handed and to the left as any regime with intentions of suppression. When it comes to education, not working hand in hand with state educators for improvement is shameful. When it comes to taking away the rights of the people, it does not matter if it is Obama or the Republicans leading the charge – both are wrong.

Although wariness of big government is not completely unhealthy, tearing apart an education system without knowing what you are tearing down, and then trying to legislate it back together is foolish. That’s like putting together a commercial airliner with Elmer’s glue; it looks good on the runway, but falls apart in the sky. You cannot fix the state’s education problems with Elmer’s glue/rhetoric nor can the problems be fixed with legislated band aids; it sounds good in theory and in the media and looks good on paper, but such superficial solutions will still fall far short of the educational needs of the state’s children. The first steps in improving an organization is to establish stringent guidelines for the product produced, secure funding, and hire the best people possible. Therefore, the first steps to improving education are to stabilize and strengthen it with stronger education standards, provide adequate funding that provides adequate resources and facilities, and secure incentives for recruiting bright young minds to be teachers. The Republicans who often speak of operating education more like a business do not seem to understand this, or they choose to ignore it. Instead, they are convinced Mississippi will be better served if they simply crusade to save the people of Mississippi from the incompetence of state educators and the socialist left of the Obama regime by increasing rhetoric and passing more laws.

I am afraid there is much more going on here than just a fight against incompetent teachers and protecting the people from Obama’s socialism. If you look closely at the Republican education bills proposed by the 2015 Mississippi House and Senate, it becomes clear this fight has very little to do with incompetent educators or the socialist left. This is a fight for power; a fight to dismantle the public school system in Mississippi to ensure the socioeconomic status of the “haves” and the “have nots.” Under the pretense of parental choice, this fight is about directing public dollars to charter schools, private schools, and homeschooling to ensure a segregated education. This is a fight that if lost will set Mississippi back at least a hundred years.

With such Republican sponsored bills as HB (House Bill) 449, designed to take away the First Amendment right of state educators, and SB (Senate Bill) 2249, which will create the Mississippi Commission on College and Career Readiness and strip the State Superintendent of Education as well as the State Board of Education of their duties as education policy makers, it is fast becoming clear that the “bad guys” on the left the Republicans have so vehemently cried against may have been on the right all along. Proposing a law to hush educator questions and concerns or imposing Gestapo like laws to strip the Constitutional authority granted a state agency are actions Americans may expect of hostile socialist and communists takeovers, but not from an American political party. There is nothing conservative or American about such actions; such actions go against everything Americans believe! Yet, this is happening in Mississippi. There is always hope that such bills as HB 449 and SB 2249 will not make it out of committee, but since the state’s Republicans have appointed themselves as education’s judge, jury, and executioner, I would hesitate to bet money against either of these bills. The Republicans often paint themselves as conservatives, but some of the recent bills they have proposed are anything but conservative. As unbelievable as it may sound, the Republican Party in Mississippi has moved so far to the right that they are now on the left. The only positive I can see is that their red colors fly well on the left.

JL

©Jack Linton, January 26, 2015

Mississippi Headlines of the Future

I have an old crystal ball that collects dust on a bookshelf in what I call my study, or as my wife more appropriately calls it, my junk room. I don’t remember where it came from, but I have had it since I was a boy. There is nothing really special about the ball, but sometimes late at night if I concentrate really hard on it, I can actually see newspaper headlines from the future floating inside. The predictions revealed in these headlines are sometimes debatable, but like any prediction, if you hang around long enough, their accuracy will eventually be revealed.

Mississippi Headlines March 3, 2015 through April 1, 2019

March 3, 2015

Phil Bryant Seeks Second Term as Governor

 Jackson, Mississippi. Governor Phil Bryant officially announced his intentions today to seek a second term as Mississippi’s governor. He promised to continue his fight against federal government interference in state affairs such as education, but he dodged questions regarding common core standards by saying, “Under my watch as governor, Mississippi has moved forward with common core standards implementation in our public schools. I am very much in favor of standards, but I am also very concerned about government interference in local affairs. I sincerely believe minus the political restrictions of my first term, standards for our children minus federal government interference will move forward in Mississippi.”

 

July 4, 2015

Mississippi’s Chris McDaniel Announces for Presidency

 Jackson, Mississippi. Mississippi State Senator Chris McDaniel announced today his candidacy for President of the United States. McDaniel, formally a Tea Party backed conservative who lost a bitterly contested state runoff for the Mississippi Republican nomination in June 2014, said his conservative ideas are the life blood of the nation and along with his tenaciousness to never say die, he believes he is the only man qualified to put America back on its feet. He also said his announcement to run for the Republican nomination for president in no way jeopardizes continued efforts to have the 2014 Mississippi Republican runoff election overturned. He added that as long as there are Mississippians willing to send $5, $10, $15 or more to support his fight for justice, he will continue to battle for integrity in the election process at least until his children finish college.

 

July 29, 2016

McDaniel Denied Republican Presidential Nomination – Supporters Rumble

Cleveland, Ohio. A day after Mississippi’s Chris McDaniel was denied the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, shocked and dismayed convention organizers are still picking up the pieces of what some are calling “The Rumble in the Jungle II.” After an hour and twenty minute non-concession speech filled with name calling and wild claims of irregularities in the nomination process, trouble erupted when convention security attempted to escort McDaniel from the platform. Video of the incident shows a security officer lean over and whisper something to McDaniel who paused, turned blood red, and wrapped both arms around the podium while yelling over and over, “I am not leaving! No! No! No! It’s mine! It’s mine! It’s mine!” The video shows all three of McDaniel’s supporters jumping on the platform and then hurling chairs and tussling with convention officials and security. Mayhem ensued throughout the convention hall, and to restore peace, the hall had to finally be evacuated.

In a statement to the press this morning, McDainel was emphatic that he and his supporters had done nothing wrong. He also said in days to come he would seek legal advice as to how best to proceed, and said legal action was a distinct possibility. Before, leaving his hotel in a white limousine with license plates “I THE WAY,” McDaniel shook hands with several onlookers and encouraged them to send him whatever they could afford to fight what he described as “the continued conspiracy and fraud rampant in my beloved Republican party.”

 

November 15, 2016

Phil Bryant Vows to Fight Common Core

Jackson, Mississippi. In Governor Phil Bryant’s first public address since being reelected as governor last week, he said he is in full support of doing away with common core standards in Mississippi, and will sign any legislation that comes before him that will effectively strike common core from Mississippi’s vocabulary. When reminded about his statement prior to the election where he implied his support of common core, Bryant snapped, “I implied nothing. I said very clearly common core standards were implemented statewide during my first term, and that I supported standards for our children. I did not say I supported common core standards.” When asked if he thought his pre-election statement may have deceived some voters, Bryant shrugged and said, “Oh well, I guess they won’t vote for me next time.”

 

March 21, 2017

Phil Bryant Strikes Down Common Core Standards

Jackson, Mississippi. Saying common core standards were a failed program supported by big government and people of questionable education merit, Governor Phil Bryant signed legislation today that effectively strikes down common core standards in Mississippi. He said this is something he has believed in for quite some time, and that he felt in his heart it was the right thing to do. However, he did say he might reconsider his action if governors in surrounding states such as Louisiana, Arkansas, and Alabama retracted their plans to oust common core standards or held fast to their support of the standards. When asked if that wasn’t being wishy-washy on the issue, Bryant said, “No, that’s being realistic.”

 

April 17, 2017

State Legislature Writes Mississippi Standards

 Jackson, Mississippi. In an anticipated move following striking down common core standards in Mississippi a little over three weeks ago, Governor Phil Bryant announced plans for Mississippi’s new standards. Under Bryant’s plan the new standards will be authored by legislators in both the state senate and house. Bryant said in a prepared statement, “It is time to put education back into the hands of the people who truly know and understand what Mississippi children need.” There was no immediate time line given for developing the standards, but legislators are expected to begin writing the new standards as soon as they fully fund MAEP.

 

February 14, 2018

Conservative Citizens Council to lead Mississippi Education

 Jackson, Mississippi. While state legislators continue to struggle with developing new state education standards, in a not so surprising move Governor Phil Bryant announced he will completely dismantle the Mississippi Department of Education by the end of the current 2017-2018 school year. In its place he will establish the Conservative Citizens Council of Mississippi to oversee education in the state. The Council will be made up of 12 committee members including the governor, attorney general, one at large attorney, five at large citizens with or without children in the public school system, two state senators, and two state representatives. The governor and attorney general will be automatically seated on the committee while all other committee members will be selected by the governor. When asked about teacher representation on the council, Bryant replied, “As council members we represent the teachers as well as the children of the state.”

 

April 1, 2019

Chris McDaniel Joins Fox News

 New York. Fox News announced today that former Mississippi state senator and presidential candidate, Chris McDaniel, will join the Fox News family. McDaniel will replace Glen Beck who recently announced his bid for the Republican nomination for president. Sponsors such as Pampers, Huggies, Similac Formula, Britax, and Johnson’s Essentials for Babies have expressed a strong interest in sponsoring the show. “Chris McDaniel is an iconic whiner who our customers can readily identify with,” a representative from Johnson’s said. “Chris gives us the “wah! wah!” factor we have been missing lately on television,”

 

There were a few more surprising headlines floating around inside my crystal ball, but it just didn’t seem right to reveal all of them and spoil the fun of surprise some of them will surely bring. According to my crystal ball, it will certainly not be dull in Mississippi during the coming years, so hold on for a very interesting, often humorous, and sometimes bumpy ride.

JL

©Jack Linton, August 16, 2014

It’s Not Complicated

I do not mean to offend, but . . . .

AT&T has recently launched a series of commercials that have propelled the company to number one status among the most watched and liked commercials.   The “It’s Not Complicated” ads focus on a deadpan moderator sitting at a child-size table populated by a group of bright, beyond cute, children.  The moderator asks the children such questions as, “Do you guys think it’s better to be fast than be slow?”  The delightful, uncomplicated, off the wall answers that illuminate the often times bizarre and whimsical minds of the children is a lesson for all of us in simplicity.  It is a simplicity that I wish we could somehow bottle and pass on to our elected officials, especially at budget time.  In fact, it would be to everyone’s advantage if we could get our senators and representatives to sit down at the table with these children.  I have no doubt the children could help them understand that when it comes to budget, it is really not that complicated.

You see, according to USA Today, the national debt in the United States is now equal to $534,000 per household, but no one seems to know how to slow it down much less stop it.  I use to think it was because our leaders did not care, but I have come to realize that they do probably care, but they do not have a clue as to how to solve the problem.   However, if we could get the leaders to the table with the children, and have the moderator ask, “How do you handle your allowance,” I am convinced the children could teach these adults a few things about economics.  “It’s not complicated,” especially if they would simply heed what I am sure the children would refer to as The Seven Principles of Kindergarten and 1st Grade Economics:

(1)   You do not spend more than your allowance;

(2)   You do not borrow more than your allowance;

(3)   You do not give away your allowance;

(4)   You do not put your allowance in a broken piggy bank;

(5)   You do not invest your allowance in strangers;

(6)   You do not spend your allowance on every piece of candy in the store;

(7)   You do not share your allowance with anyone who can’t or won’t pay it back.

It is not complicated!  Ask the children.

I do not mean to offend, but . . . .

JL

©Jack Linton, January 6, 2014