Archive for April, 2013

PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYERS, GAY AND HOMOPHOBIC PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS AND TEACHERS, AND LEARNING DISABILITIES

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

     For the record, I am a straight, retired, dedicated school teacher who is not a homophobe and I have been out of the classroom for far too long; however, teaching is more than a profession, it is an epic social phenomenon for some of us and we never “get it out of our blood”. 

     When I taught school, I tried to use all the tools available to me and I devised a few tools of my very own.  So it is with great interest that I’ve recently been reading about the discovery of factors that greatly interfere with the learning of some students and about things that teachers like me were previously totally unaware, such as Asperger’s and autism.  Today, schools and teachers are now developing means of assisting autistic kids in learning and socializing in school; that is real progress.

     Frequently, I think back to individual students of mine and I think, is there something else I needed to know, could I have done more?  My proudest moments in teaching were doing something special to benefit one of the many students in one of my classes; however, I am always concerned about my “missing the boat” on too many other students.  Of course, I am more than aware that my own public school teachers were so often unaware of my special needs.

     With this in mind, I was greatly impressed recently with a statement coming from a professional basketball player that I share here.

“Jason Collins Comes Out: NBA Player Becomes First Openly Gay Professional Male Athlete In Major Sport”, Huffington Post, 4/29/13

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/29/jason-collins-comes-out-gay_n_3178401.html#es_share_ended

“I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, ‘I’m different.’ If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”

My journey of self-discovery and self-acknowledgement began in my hometown of Los Angeles and has taken me through two state high school championships, the NCAA Final Four and the Elite Eight, and nine playoffs in 12 NBA seasons.”

     Jason’s words that stood out for me were, “I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, ‘I’m different.’ If I had my way, someone else would have already done this.”

     Jason was right, no one wants to be the gay kid in school saying, “Look at me, I’m gay and different, but I am a human being with ordinary needs despite being different.”  I heard Jason talking to me, his teacher, a teacher, any teacher.  Admittedly, I’m feeling some guilt that I often “missed the boat”.  I should have known; it was my responsibility and that is what teachers are for.

     As a teacher, you ordinarily sense some obvious needs of gay kids; you’re aware of the harassing, the bullying, and the mocking and you do what you can to stop it when you see it.  But that is not meeting the learning needs of gay students.  As a teacher, you need to incorporate the needs of gay kids in your teaching, you need to be a role model for all the kids in recognizing and accepting the difference between gay and straight kids, whether they are in kindergarten or seniors in high school.

     Unfortunately, I have to admit that in my lifetime of working in Public Schools I was always aware of the fact that too, too many Public School Teachers are in fact, homophobic; that is horrific, just think of the consequences for those gay students that have contact with those homophobic teachers. 

     Adding insult to injury, homophobic teachers feel justified in their perceived righteous homophobic behavior because of their individual religious beliefs that drive their hatred for gay people.  This is indeed, a sorry state of affairs in our democratic American society.

     And, this raises another question of needs, the needs of homophobic students who need to know how to cope with their own homophobia; in real life as in school, homophobic students are going to be required to live in a society for their entire life that consists of a very diverse population with whom they must interact, including gay employers, gay school teachers, gay Congressmen, gay clergy, and in many cases gay relatives (including perhaps, their own gay children).

     There is now a tremendous amount of support for teachers to deal with autistic kids and providing for the needs of autistic students; there is no help for gay students or for teachers to deal with gay and/or homophobic students.

     As a Public School teacher, I’m pressed to say, “God Bless Jason Collins, for relating his coming out to his Public School past; our Public Schools desperately needed that wake up call!”

By Richard Blankenburg, Ed.D.

Any part or all of this commentary can be quoted or reprinted without permission provided Dr. Blankenburg and Quixotic Tales are credited.

EUL0GY ON MY FRIEND, MARION MCANEAR

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

     In 1956, I moved to San Diego and was assigned to teach at Gompers Junior High School.  It was there I first met my friend, Mackie, who was also a teacher there.  We immediately became good friends for some strange reason I never quite understood; we were very different, yet alike in that we were perhaps crazy as can be, were dedicated teachers, and were committed to making school enjoyable for students instead of boring or miserable. 

     Whatever the reason, Mac and Helga, Mac’s wife, became best friends with me and my wife at that time.   Mac and Helga were godparents to one of our children.

     Mac McAnear has always been Mackie to me; he always addressed me as Dickie.  I don’t know why; Mac was Mac to everyone else and I was called a lot of things, other than Dickie.

     However, Mac and I agreed on important issues.  One thing we both agreed about was which beer and wine was the best; we agreed that beer or wine in the biggest bottle was the best.  Over sixty-seven years of our friendship, we shared a lot of beer and wine from big bottles.

     Mackie and I worked well together professionally; there’s a story about us that no living soul appears to know about or remember about the two of us.  I would like people to know this story about Mac because it’s important.  It gave meaning to our lives.

     At the time we were teaching, San Diego City School District was a large one with about 5,000 teachers, including Mackie and me; San Diego City Schools was a great school system and Mackie and I were proud of it, though we did see room for improvement.

     San Diego Schools were governed by five Trustees, elected by the city at large; School Board Trustees had a constituency larger than Congressmen.  Trustees in that era determined schools’ budgets and Real Estate Tax rates; consequently their election meant a lot to business, industry, and real estate investors.

     As a result of trustees being elected at large, all San Diego Trustees lived in the same exclusive neighborhoods, La Jolla and Mission Hills, and they represented only the wealthy People of San Diego.

     Many citizens, including Mackie and I, believed, a diversity of people of San Diego should be represented on the local school board.  In the 1950s, our teachers’ union, American Federation of Teachers (AFL-CIO) decided to circulate petitions to change the city charter and elect school board members from electoral districts (including the barrio and the ghetto), instead of at large; it required a lot of signatures to get the proposal on the ballot.  Mackie was in charge of collecting signature on the petitions.

     There were two organizations of teachers in San Diego at that time, the AFT that Mac and I belonged and the San Diego Teachers Association (SDTA), a company union.  At this particular time, there were 25 members of the AFT including Mac and me (our membership was secret to protect the teachers), and the other 5,000 teachers belonged to the SDTA.  The SDTA opposed electing school board members from districts as did the School Board of course.

     Our little group collected signature like crazy; we had no budget, help.  One by one our group dwindled until it was basically Mackie and me.  We collected signatures of Convair employees (San Diego’s largest employer) at the worker’s gate at quitting time (until we were run out…..more than once).  We collected thousands and thousands of signatures but not quite enough.

     A Blue Ribbon Citizens Committee, meanwhile, was proposing other changes to San Diego’s City Charter to present to the voters for approval; our election proposal was not one of them.  Mackie took our petitions to that Committee and ask them to consider out proposal along with their other proposals.  They voted to put our proposal to a vote and our proposal won the vote of the People by a big margin. 

     In the next election, San Diego elected the first Black School Board Member in history, who became a local hero.  The Blue Ribbon Committee became heroes.  Neither Mackie nor the AFT were ever mentioned. 

     Today, San Diego voters elect their School Board from districts within the City, the People take it for granted.  I tell this story to show a side of Marion McAnear that people have never known; I want people to know.  I’m proud to have shared that experience with Mackie.

     There’s another story I want to share about Mac; he was notorious for getting to school late in the morning, to administration’s chagrin.  So in all their wisdom, the administration assigned Mac to be in charge of students who played reveille on a bugle over loud speakers throughout the school as they raised the flag every morning, fifteen minutes before classes started. 

     Every morning when the bugle blared reveille and the flag was raised, all students and teachers were required to stand at “attention” during the ceremony wherever they were.  Standing at attention was a pain in the ass; it interrupted whatever you were doing, so teachers and students would anticipate it, timing it to be conveniently in a place where it didn’t matter.

     Mac continued to be late as usual and instead of fifteen minutes before class, that damn bugle would go off ten minutes before class, seven minutes before class, and on some few occasions, after classes had started.  For me it was a hilarious joke.  I always said, “There’s Mackie, blowing up the flag.”  Administrators, some teachers, and students were not amused.

     Of course, knowing Mac, he thought by his tardiness they would appoint someone else; but, the administration would not admit their error.  No one knew when Mac would blow up the flag.   Patriotism became a maddening event.

     For me, Mackie is not dead; he is with me forever in my memory, in Technicolor and sound.  He is with me when I see a flag raised, or hear a bugle blow, or read about School Board elections in San Diego. 

     Rest in peace my dear friend.

By Richard Blankenburg

GUN REGULATION AND REGISTRATION AND MICH MCCONNELL, THE NRA, AND THE JOHN BIRCH REPUBLICANS

Friday, April 19th, 2013

 

Gun regulation and registration legislation has failed in the Senate.

Mich McConnell, the NRA, and the other John Birch Society Republicans are a mockery of men and women.  Borrowing from Jack London, “After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, and the vampire, He had some awful substance left with which he made Mich McConnell, the NRA, and the John Birch Society Republicans; they are two-legged animals with corkscrew souls, a waterlogged brain, and a combination backbone made of jelly and glue.  Where others have hearts, they have tumors of rotten principles.” 

Thanks to Jack London; the description fits and I could not have written it better than Jack London.

CHICK-FIL-A RESTAURANTS’ SALADS GET BETTER FOR YOU

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

“Chick Fil-A Salads To Get ‘Healthy’ Revamp”:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/16/chick-fil-a-salads-healthy_n_3095172.html

Chicik-fill-o-Hay Restaurants are now serving much more healthy and holy-roller salads; instead of the Cobb Salad they are now serving Him-n-Her Salad, instead of Asian Salad, they are serving Chink Missionary-Style Salad, and instead of Grilled Market Salad, they are serving Grilled Macho-Coitus Salad; every Thursday salads will be half-off price for a Coitus-Interrupts discount of the week. The restaurant owners claim the new salads are much healthier and holier. 🙂

AMERICA NEEDS TO PUT GUNS WHERE THEY BELONG IN A CIVILIZED SOCIETY, UNDER CONTROL!

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

NRA CEO, LaPierre, and these Americans totally obsessed with guns should be put in the Nut House for therapy, where those kinds of screwed up minds belong; the NRA should be declared a subversive organization, which it is; and America should try to become a civilized society.

And, I say this as a responsible gun owner.

The silliness of these deranged “gun minds” are killing off the best of our People, and the best of our prospects for the future.  The Second Amendment was not written to support deranged Americans with a weapon obsession!  Obsession with guns is criminal; protecting those people obsessed with guns is crimminal.

Guns are dangerous as is electricity, automobiles, and swimmig pools; they need to be registered and regulated and they can be regulated without being eliminated just like electricity, automobiles, and swimming pools.

Responsible Americans need to take charge of America!