Plutocrats Are Trying To Control Public Education

I encourage readers of MaryElizabethSings, who are concerned about public education in America today, to read the words I posted, today, in response to another posters’ statement, on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution educational blog, “Get Schooled.” See below.
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“Another poster: ‘. . .teachers need to find ways to engage those outside your field if you really want to improve what you are doing.’
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Mary Elizabeth: ‘Would you say the same thing to the medical professionals – that they should find ways to engage those outside their field, such as businessmen, if they want to improve their medical expertise with their patients? I don’t think you would. That would be a highly presumptuous, and even arrogant statement to make to the physician who is serving your medical needs, would it not? Teachers, likewise, are trained in their field and are professionals no less than physicians.

The problems in education are mainly societal in nature. This nation integrated the races within our society in the 1960s and 1970s as had never been done below in two centuries previously of America’s existence. That is only one example of huge societal change that has affected the education of our young more than “poor teaching” has affected their education. Professional educators are looking for answers in how to address these upheavals and dramatic changes in society with wisdom and skill. Trial and error will be part of the process until better solutions are found. That is why I support public charter schools which are working with traditional public schools for the betterment of all the students. However, for a business mogul, such as Bill Gates, to state to those involved in educational change that it makes no difference whether a class is composed of 20 or 40 students demonstrates educational ignorance to most teachers and administrators.

Imo, Americans must not allow ourselves to believe the propaganda of the forces in this nation who are trying to dismantle public education. The wealthy and powerful leaders have ideological and political reasons for disseminating their treatise against public schools to the American public. They may have good intentions, or not, but what they will be doing is turning our public institutions into privately-controlled institutions which will no longer be truly service-oriented, but profit-oriented. I do not want to see professional educators or public school students become pawns for the profit of opportunists.

I do believe that parents should have a voice in the education of their children, however. I ,also, believe that the students, themselves, should have a voice in their own education. These are the “other voices” to whom the educators should be listening, not the business CEOs who have a different expertise and set of skills than do educators. As an illustrative example, the competent doctor will listen to his/her patients before they decide, together, the best medical plan for the patient. The doctor would not think of soliciting the advice of Bill Gates, or any other CEO, about the best way to practice medicine. Physicians continue to learn new information in the medical field throughout their professional lives, and so do teachers. It is unreasonable, to me, to believe that people who have never taught students, themselves, should be given the authority to develop educational policy for educators.

Some things have gone awry in education, to some extent, but each person must look, within, to consider how much he or she has been influenced, without even realizing it, by the particular powerful and wealthy of this country who have an ideological, political agenda to make manifest. These people are plutocrats, not educators. We want to keep our democratic-republic viable. We must not allow it to become an oligarchy, controlled by the few of wealth and power. Please consider what I have written.'”

http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2014/jul/28/bad-student-writers-you-get-what-you-pay/

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More on Education – Differentiating Instruction

I believe that readers of “MaryElizabethSings” will appreciate this post which I just placed on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s blog entitled, “Get Schooled,” under the supervision of AJC educational columnist Maureen Downey.  Readers should read Ms. Downey’s entire thread which highlights the direction that Georgia’s Department of Education is moving in better educating all of Georgia’s students, with precision.  The link to Ms. Downey’s article is: http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2014/jul/24/georgia-rolls-out-growth-model-does-it-help-know-y/

My post, in which I describe differentiated instruction, and the need for it, in detail, is posted below:

“I wish that I had more time to give more thoughts, of the moment, on this very important thread topic, but I simply do not. So, as second best, I will offer a couple of additional links to my blog which may help some teachers to be able to differentiate instruction with more ease. The bottom line is that students MUST be taught where they are functioning or they will NOT learn and grow – and will drop out of school, in large part, as a result. This is not their fault, in large part. It is the fault of the educational system’s not addressing effectively where each student is functioning. Educators, from the highest ranks to the lowest, must take ownership of that failure in design in public education and correct it. This is a main way to make our traditional public schools more successful with all students.

To class80olddog:
If I had had a chance to respond to your posts to me yesterday, I was going to write that it seemed to me that you were not an actual teacher from your posts which explained why you do not think that teachers can differentiate instruction effectively with the variations that exist with students. Two constructive thoughts: First, educators simply cannot put a 9th grade student who is reading on 3rd grade level (and who may have already failed two grades and be 16 years old) in a class with 8 year olds who are reading on 3rd grade level. Secondly, even if a given child were to be failed to “catch up” with his peers, he might not be able to keep up with the rate of their learning which would precipitate more “failing” in a vicious cycle of failure until he drops out of school. I do not think you grasp in detail what teachers already are dealing with daily, in terms of differentiating their instruction. In reading your posts to me from yesterday, it seemed to me that you were visualizing and thinking about instructional problems in public schools in the abstract, and not in the concrete from actually having had teaching experience. As a result, it is no surprise that what IS possible for teachers to accomplish does not seem possible to you. Thereafter, I read Original Prof’s post to you in which she mentioned that you were a businessman, not a teacher. I truly think that that is the reason that you are not able to visualize what teachers can, and do, accomplish with students of varied skills and abilities in the same classes, daily. Perhaps, if nothing else this thread and the comments of posters who are or have been teachers will alert the general public that teaching is a demanding and highly skilled profession and that it is led by professionals. That training and experience in the field is why educators need to control education, with parent input, and not the other way around.

So, here are a couple of my links which will, in the first one, describe how I differentiated instruction in my classes when I was a teacher of a college prep reading course, and, in the second link, I offer some additional thoughts about how to differentiate instruction. 

(PLEASE NOTE: I have not refined and edited my blog threads, in great detail, yet for conciseness because I am working on a couple of other projects at the moment, but I will do so in the years to come. In the meantime, I felt that it was better to get the knowledge about instruction which I have accrued over the years “out there” now on my blog, and refine my entries later. My apologies for the length of some of my blog’s posts, as a result of lack of time to edit in detail currently.) 

(1) Entitled: “Ways to Teach Students Who Are Functioning On Different Instructional Levels In The Same Grade”

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/ways-to-teach-students-who-are-functioning-on-different-instructional-levels-in-the-same-grade/

(2) Entitled: ‘My Thoughts For Improving Public Education”

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/educational-essay-9-my-thoughts-for-improving-public-education/ 

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Another Poster: “Overall my kids did well. I was surprised that the higher level kids were generally the ones who showed the most growth, though. Counter-intuitive”
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Mary Elizabeth: “No really counter-intuitive. The most acadimic growth will, more than likely, show forth with those students who have the highest IQs because they generally will learn at a faster rate, with mastery, than will those students with average and lower than average IQs.

ADDENDUM to my 12:11 a.m. post.

Allow me to demonstrate to this reading audience, very specifically, through my example of an opposite case of “Another Poster’s” high level students, regarding how a student who is functioning on a low level in comparison with his age peers, and who also happens to have a lower than average IQ, will not progress as much in a year as much as his average and above average IQ age peers. After you read, below, what happens to “Johnny” over the years in becoming significantly behind his age peers, perhaps you will use your imaginations to envision how students (such as Another Poster’s) who have IQs above the average for their age groups will progress (or grow) more than those who have lower IQs in a given year.

Also, when you read Johnny’s case in detail, perhaps you (the reading audience) can better understand why students have a wider range of functioning levels in the higher grades than in the lower grades. This instructional phenomenon will always be true because students (and people) will always have varied IQ. levels. This is no one’s “fault” – not the parents, not the teachers, not the students. However, as educators, we must address this forever present wide range of students’ functioning levels in every grade level from k-12, or we will not reach, nor be successful with, every student throughout his/her tenure in public elementary, middle, and high schools.

JOHNNY’s CASE:

‘I was taught, as a graduate student, that if a student is reading within two years of his grade level, that he will be able to function in the reading requirements for that grade level. This means that if a 7th grade student is reading on 5th grade level that he will be able to function in the material for the 7th grade, but if he is reading on 4th grade level or below, in 7th grade, then he will not be able to function on 7th grade material.

Now, in considering the variable of IQ score, Johnny has scored in the IQ range of 83 to 88 for several years. That means that he is probably below average in his innate potential. One could, then, reasonably expect Johnny to grow 7 months in a 12 month period. Let’s say Johnny is in 2nd grade and he is reading on grade level 1.5 which is sufficient for him to function in 2nd grade. Next, he enters 3rd grade and he is reading on 2.2 grade level, having grown 7 months in 2nd grade. Johnny should still be able to learn and grow in 3rd grade because he is not reading more than two years behind 3rd grade level. So, he grows another 7 months in 3rd grade, with good instruction, based on his potential.

Now, we have Johnny in 4th grade and he has advanced in his reading skills to 2.9 grade level, which is within the two year cut off point for being able to master the curriculum for 4th grade. Next year, Johnny is in 5th grade and, having advanced 7 months in a year, he is reading on 3.6 grade level, but he can still cope. The next year, in 6th grade, Johnny is only reading on 4.3 grade level which is barely sufficient for coping with 6th grade material. In 7th grade, Johnny is only reading on 5.0 grade level, and he just barely passes his classes, but he does pass to 8th grade. In 8th grade, he reading on 5.7 grade level. Each year, then, from 2nd grade to 8th grade, Johnny has made his maximum progress which was – based on his IQ potential – 7 months of growth for a year’s work.

Johnny has been promoted to 8th grade because he passed 7th grade curriculum, but he is only reading on 5.7 grade level in the 8th grade, or more than two years behind his grade level. Therefore, although his 8th grade teacher may be a good teacher, Johnny may not advance 7 months in the 8th grade, as before, because he will have been taught on his frustration level during his 8th grade year. Johnny’s teacher was not aware of his IQ scores, nor of his academic developmental history, which had shown how he finally reached an academic frustration point in his 8th grade school year. In fact, Johnny may even regress in his reading skills in 8th grade because he will have spent a year being taught on his frustration level. At the end of his 8th grade year, his reading level may only be 5.5 grade level. When he entered 8th grade, his reading level was 5.7 grade level. His teacher is surprised that she received a poor rating based on Johnny’s 2 months’ regression in his standardized test scores. After all, his previous years’ scores had shown that Johnny could be expected to advance at least 7 months in a year’s time. His teacher does not know why he regressed by 2 months since she had tried so hard to help him grow. Johnny does enter 9th grade, however, because he (barely) passed most of his classes even though he regressed in his standardized reading scores, but now he is only reading on grade level 5.5 in 9th grade, or 3 and 1/2 years behind grade level – a perfect candidate for drop-out status. If teachers had made wise and prudent use of Johnny’s IQ scores, as well as having spent time assessing his developmental history, they might have analyzed his unique needs more wisely, earlier, and they might have provided him with the remediation he needed, earlier, even though he was advancing ‘according to how he had advanced previously.’ “

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/the-case-for-continuous-progress-for-students-in-grades-k-12/

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President George Washington on the Value of Government, as Stated in his Farewell Address

I wrote the following words about George Washington on Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jim Galloway’s blog (article on Michelle Nunn penned by journalist Greg Bluestein), on June 29, 2014:

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“For those present day Republican ultraconservatives who have been bamboozled by plutocrats (interested mainly in their own personal wealth) to be ‘anti-government’ advocates, I want to post the words of our first President, George Washington, which I just read yesterday on page 755 of Ron Chernow’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, entitled ‘Washington: A Life,’ published in 2010.

President George Washington’s Farewell Address, was first published on September 19, 1796 in ‘Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser,’ at Washington’s request. Immediately, thereafter, Washington’s words were published throughout the nation. Below are the words of George Washington, General and Commander-in-Chief of the American Revolutionary War against Great Britain and first President of the United States of America, regarding the value of government:

‘To the PEOPLE of the UNITED STATES,

Friends and Fellow Citizens,

The name of AMERICAN, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. . . .The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.. . . .’

Chernow writes of Washington, ‘Instead of flattering the people, Washington challenged them to improve their performance as citizens.  Most of all he appealed to Americans to cling to the Union, with the federal government as the true guarantor of liberty and independence. As Joseph Ellis has written, ‘In the Farewell Address, Washington reiterated his conviction that the centralizing impulses of the American Revolution were not violations but fulfillment of its original ethos.’ “

 

 

 

(Link to this blog entry found here: http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2014/06/29/as-gop-runoff-rages-michelle-nunn-says-shes-building-a-grassroots-army/

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All Will Be Perceived As Equal in God’s Universe, based on Love, in the Evolution of Time

My combined response to Jay Bookman’s column, published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on June 29, 2014, entitled, “Mississippi Violates Old Taboo,” and to Jim Galloway’s column, entitled, “Crossover Voting: Last Week in Mississippi and Next Month in DeKalb County (GA),” also published June 29, 2014 in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
 (Link to Jay Bookman’s column: http://www.ajc.com/news/news/opinion/mississippi-violates-old-taboo/ngS6B/ ; Link to Jim Galloway’s column: http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2014/06/28/crossover-voting-last-week-in-mississippi-next-month-in-dekalb-county/ )

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All of this is simply power politics, but one day, in the not too distant future, people will neither be simply perceived nor used by their generically identified and self-identified labels. It is good, however, that African-Americans, who were killed even 50 years ago simply for being black and for trying to break up the Jim Crow social hierarchy, are now viewed as assets to political power.

Testimony to the South’s past and to its emerging future:

Perceiving Jim Crow as a social system mandated for too long a time in the South and one that desperately needed breaking was what had caused me to flee such a spiritually depraved environment of the South in 1963. (I returned to my Southern roots in 1970.) The Jim Crow South was out of line with my ideas of egalitarianism and, therefore, with all that was essentially spiritual. There has been much corruption of the soul in the South for centuries because of the people’s perceiving their fellow men and women in hierarchies of social acceptance instead of perceiving all other human beings with a love which confirms that all are inherently equal in God’s Universe and, thus, must be perceived as inherently equal.

From my blog, November 23, 2010:

“The essential premise in finding one’s true spirit is understanding that all are equal within the spiritual universe. We are all part of the One. We each have equal, individual spirits within the One.

To find our true and unique spirits, we must dismantle and transcend the superficial labels human beings often identify with – and live out in their lives – to their diminishment as conscious, loving beings.

Labels that separate.

Can you feel the pulse of life running through Bob Marley’s song, ‘One Love’?

Listen for its consistent, pulsating beat. It is a heart beat.

The beat of the rhythm of life. It is organic. It does not need labels.”

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2010/11/23/essential-premise-in-finding-ones-true-spirit/

But that spiritually limited perception of some superior to others is soon to change in the South and in the world. Some can see that change happening now just as some can see the shifting currents of the winds or of the changing currents the waves in the sea, when others cannot see.

“ ‘Time keeps flowing like a river to the sea.’ We cannot stop the flow of time just as we cannot stop the evolution of humankind to new realities which must emerge from the collective consciousness of all human beings.

The North Carolinian writer, Thomas Wolfe, was sensitive to that collective consciousness in 1937 when he wrote these words entitled, ‘Toward Which,’ as part of his farewell to Germany:

‘—Whereon the pillars of this earth are founded,
Toward which the conscience of the world is tending —
A wind is rising, and the rivers flow.’ ”

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2011/02/05/a-wind-is-rising/

 

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The Intertwining of Public Education with Sustaining our Democratic Republic

I posted the following remarks on the “Get Schooled” blog of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on May 21, 2014:

“Two Points:

1) From my blog:

‘Michelle Rhee’s approach to educating students is not consistent with principles of child development. Her approach, as was the educational approach of former APS Superintendent Beverly Hall, reflects a business model to educating human beings. I am more concerned with Rhee’s use of an intimidating and highly tension-inducing business model in the education of children than I am concerned about what Rhee was aware of, at what point in time, concerning cheating in the DC schools. In my opinion, Michelle Rhee’s educational influence with state legislators, who for the most part are not trained in educational principles, can result in statewide educational policies that will not be productive, and sometimes may even be harmful, to students.

From my 35 years functioning in instructional leadership in Georgia’s schools, grades 1 – 12, I believe that a business model, used in educational arenas, is not only hurtful to students, and to teachers, but that this model is also, ultimately, ineffective because it is not consistent with natural child development, nor is it consistent with mastery learning of individual students, and their individual rates of learning, within a curriculum continuum. An educational model is needed for educating children effectively – and with ongoing success – which will, ironically, in the long-run, also be reflected in improved standardized test scores.’

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/about-michelle-rhee/

(2) A repeat, edited somewhat:

A legislator who is also Democratic candidate for the state Superintendent of Schools plays ball with the power brokers in the legislature, such as those 42 Republican members of ALEC in our state legislature. Those power brokers with whom she is playing ball could destroy not-for-profit public education, as we have known it. That will have repercussions about what kind of nation we eventually will have, as Thomas Jefferson well knew when we appealed to Virginia’s legislators to pass a law establishing public schools for all, funded by public taxes. We must secure our democratic republic, as Jefferson led the way in designing, and not allow our nation to become an oligarchy, controlled by the super wealthy and powerful through business/government coalitions, as Alexander Hamilton had desired.”

 

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Republicans have been trying to privatize almost every aspect of our public institutions, which serve us all, including education, for a period of 40 years – with the initial creation of ALEC 40 years ago this year – and this fact has culminated in adversities in funding of traditional public education today. Education was targeted as the “next” public institution to go after to privatize (by ultraconservative Republicans). This is showing up not only in Georgia but in many states across the nation, such as in North Carolina and in Wisconsin (whose governor is connected with Koch Brothers’ influence and agenda). I believe that it will be a positive outcome to stop this attempted change of our public institutions to private ones by Libertarians such as the Koch Brothers. If I do not commit myself to delivering this message, who will, with the knowledge that I have accrued in studying this situation? If I can play even a small part in sustaining the egalitarian republic that Thomas Jefferson envisioned with his heart and mind, then I consider that a most positive way to spend my time.

It is good that the legislator had a positive speech after the election. That is as it should be and I would have expected no less from her or any of the other candidates. However, I must speak truth on these blogs as I see truth, for I know what course our public education must take (it must not be controlled by private profit) and I know what course our nation must take (it must not be controlled by the plutocrats of wealth and industry but must remain a nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal and it must remain a nation of, by, and for the people, not become a nation for the wealthy corporations and those who run them, as ALEC advocates).

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What’s Behind the Polarization of America?

 

This nation is evolving, simultaneously, in two very different directions and that is why there appears to be greater tribal politics than usual. However, the phenomenon that is occurring is much deeper than simple politics. It goes to the core of what America is meant to be.

Was this nation primarily formed to ensure individual liberty or was it formed to ensure that all are equal?

One “side” has to lead the way in shaping America’s future. Although the other “side” will still impact that future, it will not prevail as the guiding influence of America’s future. In our deepest resources we know that this is true. This is why the nation is now so divided. One side will win in its impact and influence of our nation’s future for all citizens. Are we our brother’s keeper in America or are we totally on our own? On the one hand, we have the Cliven Bundys who will go to all lengths to stand alone for individual liberty against governmental intrusion of any kind on their individual rights. We, also, have the billionaire Koch Brothers on that side who believe, as Libertarians, that government should simply get out of their way so that they can wield whatever power they choose to wield, as individuals. On the other hand, we remember the values and beliefs of Martin Luther King, Jr., who believed that we are our brothers’ keepers and that we each have a hand in making our nation into a more perfect union by our commitment to that spiritual understanding. I believe that Abraham Lincoln would be on the side with Martin Luther King, Jr. because, although Lincoln started his tenure as Commander-in-Chief knowing that this nation must not be divided so that it could continue to be the beacon for liberty for all throughout the world, as he deepened in the course of the Civil War, he came to know that that war was, in truth, about whether slavery would endure or be eliminated in America. So, Lincoln, in essence, joined consciousness with that of Thomas Jefferson and later Martin Luther King, Jr. in understanding that the “raison d’etre” of America’s formation was to ensure that all on this earth are acknowledged to be created equal.

I know on which side in America’s ongoing struggle between individual liberty and egalitarianism I am going to align myself. That is the side which lives out Jefferson’s words that we are all created equal. Our world is evolving, spiritually, toward Providence, in my opinion. That means that the collective American consciousness, in which we will come to realize that we are our brothers’ keepers, and in which we will come to know that all are spiritually equal human beings, whether one is a CEO of a major corporation or whether one is a lowly worker in that corporation, is the consciousness which must lead the way for America’s future. That is radical thinking, but it is what America must be about as she continues to evolve. We are at the turning point now. That is why America is so polarized today. The stakes are higher than any one individual’s life. What is at stake is the direction the world will move in the 21st century on its continuous movement toward eternity. Will we continue to think in terms of individual survival or will we began to think in terms of the survival of humanity, as a whole, one being in communion with all others?

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2013/09/01/critique-of-the-1986-argentine-film-man-facing-southeast/

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More on Thomas Jefferson

On Sunday, April 13, 2014, Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jay Bookman published a column entitled, “Money, Ads, and Candidates.”  My remarks, below, were written on Bookman’s “MyAJC” blog in response to his column.  Here is the link to Jay Bookman’s column:   http://www.myajc.com/news/news/opinion/moneyads-andcandidates/nfXfZ/?icmp=ajc_internallink_invitationbox_apr2013_ajcstub1  Another, more effective link to Bookman’s column can be found here: http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/jay-bookman/2014/apr/14/money-isnt-speech-its-power/

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Another Poster’s Response: 

“I admire Jefferson as much as anyone. He was one of our greatest presidents, but I would not support him for saint hood. One other big reason that he died penniless (among several others) is that he loved fine wines, especially fine wines imported from France. One of several expensive tastes that he indulged. And philosophically/politically, the man as got to be rolling in his grave watching the forceful intrusion of the federal government into every aspect of American life. He ‘turned against government’ once, and worked hard to turn other English citizens against their government. Hence, the American Revolution. My strong guess would be that he would not be an advocate for this every growing and ever more powerful, and ever more expensive, debt ridden, debt dependent, and increasingly unaccountable federal government that Americans are now living under.”

 
Mary Elizabeth:

“Check out Jefferson’s chosen action when the Treaty of Paris (which officially ended the Revolutionary War) was nearly not ratified in time because too few delegates, from the various colonies, had not shown up in Philadelphia to vote for its ratification. Without a plurality of signatures ratifying that document, the newly formed United States of America would have appeared a weak nation, without internal cohesion, to most European powers, who would have, then, foreseen an easy victory in war against a divided, weak America, especially in regard to the control of the Western territories. (In fact, one of of the primary reasons Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon when he did was that Jefferson was aware that the strong centralized governments in Europe might wish to challenge America for the Western territories. Jefferson had even written to Dr. Clark, well before the Louisiana Purchase had become a ‘fait accompli,’ to entreaty Clark to consider exploring the territory, which would become the Louisiana Purchase, in behalf of the United States.)

Jefferson understood the importance of the young America’s appearing to European powers, immediately after the Revolutionary War, as a cohesive nation in which all states recognized the importance of a centralized government of the United States to speak in behalf of all of the states, in unison with one another. Yet, Jefferson also knew the real danger of his appearing to be coercive to the individual states by demanding their delegates’ immediate signatures ratifying the Treaty of Paris on time. Thus, Thomas Jefferson, in wisely recognizing the grave necessity of the United States’ being perceived abroad as having a strong central government through its securing the ratification of the Treaty of Paris, decided to pen by himself alone, a kind of legal ratification to the Treaty of Paris, using a previously cast plurality of votes by the colonies’ delegates to a similar, earlier version of that document which approved similar ends as the final version of the Treaty of Paris. Jefferson reasoned that his penned document would serve legally as a quasi-ratification to the Treaty of Paris until the United Stated had time to secure a plurality of delegates’ signatures approving of the the actual Treaty of Paris. (Jefferson had been unable to sleep and was becoming more sickly until he realized that he could, himself, devise this creative legal ratification of the tenets of Treaty of Paris through the power of his pen in conjunction with the votes of this previously ratified document.) Jefferson, alone, then, was willing to use his pen to make these states appear to overseas powers as unified and cohesive power, with a strong central authority, instead of as a weak coalition of states which fought endlessly with one another, without central control. Jefferson recognized that if European nations had heard that the Treaty of Paris had not been signed by enough of the states’ delegates to be ratified, then European nations would have laughed at the United States’ in its folly of thinking that because it had won the Revolutionary War that it was a strong nation. These dominant European nations would have, then, surmised that the United States was weak enough that it could be defeated in another war especially for controlling rights to Western territories. Jefferson’s creative, and risky, idea of how he could write a manipulated legal ratification was not needed, however, because enough delegates finally showed up to ratify the Treaty of Paris in time for their signatures to be sent overseas to Paris within the six months’ time period allowed. Obviously, Jefferson knew the value of central authority to the welfare of this nation although he supported states’ rights, also, so that the people’s interests would be served in a balanced way.

The states’ rights secessionist groups, of today, are not of Jefferson’s intellectual understanding of states’ rights. These ultraconservative, states rights’ advocates are denying American citizens’ rights, instead of expanding their rights, through diminishing voters’ rights in Republican-dominated states, diminishing medical care and medical insurance through not expanding the ACA in Republican-dominated states, diminishing women’s legally won rights of equality in pay and in the privacy of their bodies of the last half century, and in diminishing workers’ humane rights, obtained in the past century. It was Thomas Jefferson who had insisted that a Bill of Rights be included in the U. S. Constitution. (Check the facts regarding Jefferson’s strong role in making certain that the Treaty of Paris was ratified on time, in order to declare that America was a free and independent nation in the eyes of the world’s powers, in Jon Meacham’s recently published book entitled, ‘Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power.’

Jefferson felt so strongly against rulers of nations, i.e. kings and lords, controlling the lives of ordinary citizens that he penned the Declaration of Independence against that injustice being perpetuated further in the course of human history. Thomas Jefferson would never have supported the ruling-class oligarchy which is being created in America today, made up of (1) some of America’s billionaires who are also powerful business owners and CEOs and (2) self-interested politicians, who, working together, are seeking to create an America in which the wealthy and powerful will rule the masses of citizens of this nation. Jefferson, and our Founding Fathers, endorsed, with their signatures, these closing words of the Declaration of Independence: ‘. . .we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor’ so that that type of oligarchical governance would never, again, occur to equally created human beings, who are citizens of the United States of America.

It is a travesty of justice that many ultraconservatives within today’s Republican Party have deliberately tried to abscond with Jefferson’s brilliant mind by speaking self-righteously for Jefferson, himself, in order to serve their own more limited visions and self-serving interests.

Nevertheless, Jefferson’s actual words still resonate – through the centuries – with much more impact and power than these smaller minds envision. Jefferson speaks for himself, and for our other Founding Fathers, when he penned, within the Declaration of Independence, these words which will live forever in the world’s history:

‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.’ (and NOT deriving their just powers from the plutocrats of power and wealth who wish to control the lives and destinies of the masses of the people of this great nation)”

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