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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Embracing a More Expansive (Liberal) Vision in the South

Below is my response to Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jim Galloway’s words in his article on his blog, “Insider Edition,” on February 27, 2014.  Readers of “Mary Elizabeth Sings” can find Galloway’s article at the following link: http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2014/02/27/jack-kingston-hits-the-airwaves-but-stays-away-from-the-c-word/

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“For as far back as I can remember, the political word of self-identification, ‘conservative,’ has been much revered in Georgia. And, for as far back as I can remember, for a Georgia politician to have self-identified with the word, ‘liberal,’ was to have committed immediate political suicide. I was born in 1942. 

If perceptions of blacks in the South have been changed since the decade of my birth, in large part through federal laws which enforced a more expansive (liberal) vision of human beings, and if sexual orientation is now being seen as a natural variation from the sexual norm, with no longer a need for human beings to hide their individual sexual orientation, then I am more confident than ever that Georgia, and Georgians, will soon expand their visions to see that a liberal mind is more to be embraced than a conservative one, although we each judiciously contain elements of both in our thinking.  

Let each person of Georgia now feel free to soar, openly, into whatever his or her unique, innate potential was meant to be. And, let each person of Georgia feel free to embrace a liberal worldview which will transcend one’s race, religious preference, sexual orientation, gender identification, and even nationality. When that change of consciousness happens in the spirits and minds of Georgians, then, finally, politicians in Georgia who will choose to proclaim themselves as liberals, as did John F. Kennedy in New York in 1960, will win elections in Georgia. I have seen the handwriting on the wall of Georgia’s progressive movement toward equal rights for blacks and gays within my lifetime. And, I know that, one day soon, my birth state will embrace the liberal, progressive vision without being held back by the shackles of Georgia’s tragic past.”

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Establishing Sound Educational Policy for Future Generations

I also posted, on February 11, 2014, another response to an article written by Professor Peter Smagorinsky, on Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Maureen Downey’s “Get Schooled” blog.  Below are my words of response.  The article by Professor Peter Smagorinsky can be read through the following link: http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2014/feb/11/reduction-people-data-and-its-dehumanizing-effects/ .

“Last evening from 7 – 7:30 p.m. I watched public television’s broadcast entitled, “On the Story,” which highlights significant legislation that Georgia’s legislators are considering while they are in legislative session this year.  Last evening one of Georgia’s legislators, as well as an educational researcher who had earned a Ph.D, and an elementary teacher discussed the pros and cons of the Common Core Curriculum, with moderator Bobbie Battista.

One of the panelists (not the elementary teacher) quoted data which stated that today in Georgia, 40% of Georgians must hold a college degree in order to obtain most available jobs in Georgia, but that in a few decades, 80% of Georgians must hold a college degree in order to qualify to hold most of the jobs that will be available in the state at that time. The implication was that legislators and educators must prepare 80% of Georgia’s elementary and secondary students to be college ready when they graduate from high school, especially in the coming years.

I could not help but remember the bell curve of IQ among all people that I was taught when I was in grad school, and also remember the range of students and their individual intellectual abilities during my 35 years of teaching. To try to force 80% of all high school students (including those who will have dropped out of school because the curriculum taught was too difficult for them to master) is educationally unrealistic, in my opinion. We would serve our students, and our state more effectively, in the future, if we educate each student to his or her optimum capacity to learn relevant curriculum, and that we also make a concentrated effort to provide the types of jobs, including service jobs to others, as a part of our future investment in the state.  We should also be aware that presently only about half of those students (50%) who enter college will actually earn a college degree.

This type of hasty educational decision making, i.e. 80% of students in the future must have college degrees to have a job, which is based on limited data and limited experience with students, is what can happen to educational policy passed by Georgia’s legislature when educational leaders, who have worked directly with students for decades, are not afforded the voices which they deserve at the table of determining educational policy for future generations of the masses of students in Georgia.”

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Additional relevant comments on Ms. Downey’s “Get Schooled” blog on Feb. 11, 2014:

Another poster:
(To) MaryElizabethSings:

“I did not see that panel discussion, but ‘college’ now includes Tech school – were they including Tech schools in that 80%. If so, that’s a reasonable goal. If not, well, you’re right. That’s crazy talk!”

Mary Elizabeth Sings’ response to that poster:

“No mention was made of tech schools, only of college degrees. The definition of a college degree was not discussed. However, as you and class80olddog have pointed out, including tech school would make more sense with 80% criteria.”
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An additional poster’s comments:

“. . .Data is important but not more important than the human aspects of students. We cannot forget the needs of each individual child. We do need more individuals at the county level to crunch the data and take this job away from the teachers. Let us teach and then provide us the data we need to analyze to improve instruction. There needs to be more county tests on units that are taken on computers, IPADS, etc. so we can do our job as teachers. We are now expected to do too much while the administrators at the county level just dictate more and more requirements to us. They need to be more involved in the data collection process and they need to be spending less time dictating and more time analyzing.”

Mary Elizabeth Sings’ response to the additional poster’s comments:

“Excellent, well thought through points, above, with obvious practical experiences in the classroom to back up your astute analysis.

Moreover, you have grasped the wave of the future in that you have placed the gathering of needed data in its proper place and perspective. Data must become streamlined to be available to teachers with instantaneous speed through computers in order to help teachers do what they do best – reach each student’s emotional and academic needs.”

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Posted by MaryElizabethSings:

“Thank you for your excellent article, above, Dr. Smagorinsky, and thank you, also, to Maureen Downey for publishing it on her blog.”

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Posted by MaryElizabethSings:

“‘Again, that is a leadership decision. Its not inherent in standardized tests.’
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More deeply, the pendulum push toward more and more standardized testing is the result of political pressure placed upon educational leaders to adopt a business model instead of an educational model within public schools. It is the direct after effect of the political movement, of several decades running, to privatize as many public service areas as is possible. We see that trend most recently in the movement to privatize the U.S. Postal Service when the U.S. Congress having passed a law in 2006 in which the U. S. Postal Service must – within the next decade – produce the funds to sustain the full benefits to its employees for the next 75 years. No other public service area has been penalized to that degree and that is the reason – the only reason – that the U. S. Postal Service is in debt.

Standardized, and end-of-level testing, of students’ skills, achieved, should be used only as an instructional aid to accurately diagnose where each student is functioning to facilitate the correct instruction delivered to each student. Every student can achieve mastery if instruction is delivered where each student is functioning at point in time, irrespective of grade level demarcations. Students will always learn at differing rates because their ability levels differ.

Testing should not be used for a job threat to teachers or for the purposed of extending increased salary as an incentive, as is done in a business model. There are too many variables within each student’s development history which standardized testing cannot uncover for these test results to be used, with accuracy and with validity, in determining who is a poor teacher and who is an excellent teacher. Education is a humanistic profession, and teachers must be assessed through humanistic analyses, mainly.”

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