The Heart and The Mind of Egalitarianism

The American people have been manipulated by certain Republican plutocrats to vote against their own interests, and thereby the interests of average Americans.  America has always had its Puritanical streak, and the wealthy/powerful have seized upon that limitation of imagination in many Americans to program them, through effective propaganda, to vote for “hard work, family values, independence, morality” while laughing at their ignorance of what they are really voting for – the destruction of the oldest Democratic-Republic on Earth by lessening the political power of the masses in favor of the wealthy/elite in our nation.

America’s destiny has been to be a role model for the world, regarding the practice of democracy in action. Washington knew it, Jefferson knew it, and Lincoln knew it.

We must live out our destiny. We must keep America’s tenets enduring, as they were designed to be, by sustaining a government of, by, and for the people.  We must remain a model for the world in how to practice egalitarianism through our government.  The ideological Republican plutocrats cannot win this battle.  They must be seen through.  And, they must be voted out of office.  They have had the wrong ideology for America for 35 years, since Ronald Reagan became President.

When I came back to the South from the East Village in NYC in 1970, after having spent almost seven years in NYC, I had come to understand that there are really only two classes of people on this earth – the Living and the Dead – in contradiction to the long-ingrained Southern tradition of seeing others as part of a hierarchical class system. 

Death is the great leveler of life.  Death keeps things in perspective.  Those who pretend to be superior to any other human being, for any imagined reason while they live, are playing a fool’s game in their own minds. That is the heart and the mind of egalitarianism.

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“Jim Crow” Is Not Dead, Yet, in America

The citizens of this nation need to galvanize, once again, around a national movement of social justice for poor people in this nation, especially for poor black people who never have fully recovered from the stigma and destructiveness of America’s Jim Crow years.
Social action of a meaningful, impacting nature ended in America 35 years ago, with the election of Republican President Ronald Reagan.  The foundation was laid, and the footwork was accomplished, for this national change of societal focus in the mid-1970s (when ALEC was formed).  This new American societal focus became powerful (and made manifest) with the election of Ronald Reagan, who kicked off his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi.
The belief that people can “get there” totally on their own is naive.
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Slavery, Jim Crow, and Looters

I posted the following on Jay Bookman’s blog, April, 30, 2015, and following this post is my explanation on Maureen Downey’s blog, the same day, in answer to how my words below explore “unorthodox” thought:

The problem as I see it is that we want to think in stark terms, and do not see in terms of gradients.

Slavery was evil.  Jim Crow was evil, but not all people who owned slaves were evil and not all white people who were silent during Jim Crow were evil.   We all have elements of evil and good within our psyches.  In a rare twist of irony, in DaVinci’s painting of “The Last Supper,” the same man whom he had painted as Jesus Christ was also chosen to be Judas, 10 years later.  DaVinci was not aware of that fact until they talked near the end of the work’s completion. The man’s features had changed so much in ten years after a hard, rough life that DaVinci thought he was another person, not his original Jesus.

When we can accept the Evil in our own souls, then we become less judgmental and more aware of the fullness of human nature.  And, we stop thinking in stereotypical, caricatures images.

Ben Affleck’s reaction of wanting to hide the fact that some of his ancestors owned slaves shows me how emotionally immature he remains even as a grown man, who is an accomplished dramatist.

That is the richness of knowing about people more fully, discovering the nuances of good and evil and how those qualities interact within each of us.

This past President’s Day, Jay Bookman told a true story of George Washington’s search for his wife’s runaway slave.  Washington was presented with his petty side showing.  Frankly, I thought that, although that story was true, the reasons that it had been true were not explored deeply enough in the context of Washington’s total character, and in the context of his marriage, and in the context of that age of history.  Besides that, I thought, tell that truth and get it out there, but don’t tell it on George Washington’s birthday.  That was the time to honor all the good in that man’s soul from which we are all still benefiting today.  We must stop seeing others, like the looters in Baltimore, as all good or all evil.  That is an adolescent way to see the world.

I grew up in the system of Jim Crow in the South.  Unless you grew up in it yourself, you cannot imagine how there could be “good” people who supported segregation (as I did not.)  Likewise, none of us grew up in the days of slavery, so for us to judge others unduly who were born into a social system of slavery as I was born into a social system of Jim Crow cannot possibly understand the many variances of thought within ONE individual.  It is a current fad to condemn Thomas Jefferson because he owned slaves which he inherited, but what people do not register is that Thomas Jefferson was against slavery all of his life.  In the Declaration of Independence he tried to condemn slavery but the delegates from SC and Georgia would not sign unless he took that part out.  Finally, after about a decade, Jefferson simply gave up with that idea, as did Washington in his circumstances.  LaFayette had had long talks with Washington about how to eliminate slavery in America. Nevertheless, Jefferson always maintained that slavery was spiritually wrong and he predicted it would end about the time it did, though he voiced he hoped it would be a peaceful transition, not one which involved war.  In other words, there were “good” slave owners and there were “sadistic” slave owners.  Just as today there are good cops and sadistic cops.

The entire reason I am on this blog is to try to get people to embrace unorthodox thought.

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Someone earlier had asked of my one post on this thread, how my thoughts could be considered “unorthodox”?

The best way I know to answer that question is to demonstrate how I have applied the same thinking processes to the looters and rioters in Baltimore of this week, as well as to the educators found guilty in the APS cheating trial.  I just posted the following on Maureen Downey’s blog relative to the judge’s decision in that APS case, and I am reposting my earlier post here for those who did not read it many hours ago.  The way I see the world would have application to George Washington’s and Thomas Jefferson’s owning of slaves, the looters and rioters in Baltimore presently, and the educators who were found guilty in the APS cheating trial.  See below my remarks just posted on Ms. Downey’s blog:

I have scanned this excellent article, and I plan to read it thoroughly tomorrow and comment directly on this APS scandal, as well as the judge’s lowering of the sentences.  I do not have time to give it the thought and response this evening which it deserves.  In the meantime, I would like to post what I had stated today on Jay Bookman’s blog about the intertwining of good and evil in every person’s soul, including, of course, the educators who were found guilty in the APS case, just as one should be able to see the good and evil in the souls of the looters and rioters in Baltimore, and not stoop to calling them the caricatured label of “thugs,” if my message, below, has any resonance and impact.

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There is an underlying reason for those riots in Baltimore that have valid spiritual reasons for existing.  When we can stop labeling people, we then are freed to understand the pain in their souls and how that pain manifests itself in differing ways.  The black people, especially the young black men of America, have been maligned by some police (who are only reflective of our society as a whole) and the rioters, as had been the case in Watts, California in 1968, have lost all hope that the system will ever work for them.  As Americans, we took the eye off of our common social inequities in the beginning of the 1970s and placed America’s soul upon the accruing of personal wealth and power, which created self-serving greed.  Today’s Americans are products of that phenomena in our collective consciousness.  We must pick up where we left off in the late 1960s and return to America’s destiny of helping all rise (of all races and classes) not in a spirit of judgment or competition but in a spirit of love and care for all humanity, starting with America’s poorest and most disenfranchised.  We are all one, under God. What happens to one, will eventually happen to all. We are all simply human beings; none of us are gods.

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Other poster’s comments:

“Seems to me that the situation re. critics and Thomas Jefferson is rather like the one that Ben Affleck has found himself in: he’s proud of his ancestor that fought in the Revolutionary War but ashamed of the one who was a slave-owner in Georgia. The Jefferson apologists would point only to the lofty words of the Constitution composed by Jefferson that all men are created equal, and ignore his more squalid actions as slave-owner who had several children by his slave-mistress (sex-slave?) Sally Hemings. African-American critics and historians were the first to point this out in the 1970s, and it was denied all the way till the DNA test in 2000 proved it.

Some aren’t bothered at all by this contradiction. But I remember the 20th century philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre’s comment: ‘There is no reality except in action.’ ”

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My response to this other poster’s comments:
“I believe that Thomas Jefferson is the father of Sally Hemings’ children.  All we know are that the facts tell us that Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner, or master, and that Sally Hemings was his wife’s slave (and half-sister) whom Jefferson inherited when he married his wife, Martha Wayles, who died when Jefferson was 39, asking him never to marry again.

Those are the facts.  However, those are, also, the labels.  Neither you, nor I, nor anyone else, knows the intricacies and the quality of the relationship between Jefferson and Hemings. Only they know that, and they are both dead.  Jefferson did, however, free his children by Sally Hemings as he had promised her he would, and Sally Hemings, herself, was released by Thomas Jefferson’s remaining child, Martha, shortly after his death, to live with her son by Jefferson until she died.”

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Poem: “Form and Substance”

A poem written by me when I was 28 years old, and had come back to my home in South Georgia from having spent 7 years of my life in New York City with my first husband and best friend:

FORM AND SUBSTANCE

Form guides and limits.

Form creates separateness.

Form is secure. This is mine.

Substance runs free and seeks.

What – Form?

Perhaps – or yet

Itself, expanded.

The river seeks not the bank –

But the ocean.

Do not negate the essence of the Soul.

Without the water, the bank hardens.

The Mind is Form, unfertilized.

Be fruitful and multiply said the Lord –

Of the Soul.

Form without Substance is barren.

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Continuous Progress through High School

Mary Elizabeth posted, today, the following on Maureen Downey’s  “Get Schooled” blog at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution regarding the need for a continuous progress instructional/educational model through high school:

“Although early childhood education will help to balance more the wide range of educational variances between the disadvantaged child and other children, we must not think in terms of one major solution to this ongoing problem.

There will always be a range of variances between students’ achievement levels through high school and that is because IQ variances, and other factors of need, will always be present among human beings, including among children and adolescents.

This is why failing students for a whole year’s work is not an enlightened way to comprehend educational growth and improvement.  If a child masters 50% of the content in 4th grade and we as unaware educators decide to fail him for the entire years’ work, we will have him repeat 50% of that curriculum that he has already mastered.  This is a waste of time (and boring) to the failed student, who now may also develop discipline problems because he knows he is ‘different.’

The more enlightened educational philosophy is to continuously teach every student where he or she is functioning at point in time at his or her diagnosed instructional levels, regardless of year in school (or grade level) demarcations.  We must teach every students’ mastery of skills and concepts at his/her individual rate of learning to that mastery.  This means that some students may take 13 or even 14 years of continuous progress growth to master all of the high school course requirements and some students may master the high school requirements for graduation in 11 or even in 10 years.  No one is ‘failed’ per se.  Each student keeps moving forward at his or her individual rate of learning to mastery until he or she masters the needed high school requirements to receive a high school diploma that has validity.  There should, also, be at least two types of high school curriculum courses offered to receive the valid high school diploma – those who are college-bound and academic in their unique gifts, and those who are gifted in the trade skills and who plan to further their skills in these areas in advanced trade schools and apprenticeships after high school, not through college/university advancement for academic prowess.”

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Verdict in: Atlanta Public School Educators, “GUILTY”

Rev. Markel Hutchins on “Get Schooled” blog of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on April 15, 2015, and my response to his comments:

Rev. Hutchins: “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. suggested, ‘crimes will be committed when there is darkness but the responsible parties aren’t just those who committed the crimes but also those who created the darkness.’ ”

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Mary Elizabeth:  “Are you listening business leaders with your unrealistic educational goals that you have inflicted upon students and teachers, not understanding that human beings are not cars which can have a 5% production increase yearly for years on end?

You business leaders and you legislators and other politicians who are trying to turn public, not-for-profit schools into market-centered places of learning, in competition with one another often for stealthy profit motivations, must acknowledge your guilt in this darkness that has enveloped public education, to Thomas Jefferson’s horror.”

Link: http://getschooled.blog.ajc.com/2015/04/15/opinion-fulton-da-paul-howards-my-friend-but-he-was-wrong-in-aps-case/

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My thoughts: An educational model, not a business model, should ALWAYS exist in public schools.  Children are not cars which can be upped on the assembly line increase of output by 5% every year, for all children and all teachers. That is educational insanity from the top down.  And, by top, I mean Atlanta’s business leaders who put this pressure for PR marketing on the Atlanta Public Schools.

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From Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist, Jay Bookman’s blog post this morning, April 9, 2015:  Link:

http://jaybookman.blog.ajc.com/2015/04/10/long-prison-terms-for-aps-defendants-would-be-injustice/

Jay Bookman: “But speaking generally, prison terms for those convicted in the cheating scandal ought to be measured in months, not in years, and perhaps in the case of low-level teachers, to time served and probation.”

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Mary Elizabeth Sings: I agree.  Justice with mercy.

Beyond that, I would like to comment that most of us have been programmed to see the world through human faces, either villains or heroes.  But, in this case, I believe that the “villain” was over and beyond any one human being, including Dr. Beverly Hall.  Today, Michelle Rhee, high-powered educational leader, has influence over Georgia’s legislator’s and over many Governors’ educational decisions.

The real culprit in this massive tragedy is in thinking that the square-peg business model  will fit into the round hole of the educational model.  It is impossible to do that, without ingrown corruption.

For years, I have written that standardized testing should only be used for diagnostic purposes to insure that each student be placed on his or her precise instructional level and then taught on his/her precise instructional levels throughout the twelve grades.  When we use test scores to compare teachers, and schools, and schools systems with one another, and offer bonuses for “success” and firings for “failure” we have not only bastardized public education, we have prostituted it for profit.  One cannot compare teachers and schools with one another because every class and school with have completely different students. Education deals with human development with all of it complexities; business deals with products sold for profit.  Huge difference.  This mess is the result of wrong-headed, simplistic thinking where business leaders are trying to dominate every area of our democracy.

Another poster:

@MaryElizabethSings

Well stated.

Thank you.

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A Second Poster: 

@MaryElizabethSings

MES:  What would you recommend to determine if teachers are doing their jobs?

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MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@ A Second Poster

Observations by professional educators, and a review of test results for only her students for the year, in pretesting the same students before she begins the year, and post testing at the end of the school year, her same students on the same test, or a version of it, taking into consideration the differing IQs of students and their various individual problems or needs.  That is a humanistic approach that has intellectual heft, also.  And, the goal is human development not profit.

A 3rd Poster: 

@maryelizabethsings

It should be taken into account that not all students are academic.

What should you do with those who are not?

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MaryElizabethSings

MaryElizabethSings 

@ A 3rd Poster

In any democracy, every student who has even below average IQ (but not severely so) should be able to become literate to some degree in reading, mathematics, science, and social studies (or history) in order to enhance the society as a whole. However, students, because they will always have varied IQs and differing needs, must always be taught concepts and skills to mastery at differing RATES.  That will result in students of the same grade levels – all the way through 12th grade – needing to be taught exactly where they are functioning, irrespective of their grade level demarcations.  This is how we will improve public education.

In addition to that, and more on target to your question, those students who would better be served by focusing on trade skills should be taught those skills earlier in high school, and perhaps even toward the end of middle school, before they give up and drop out of school.  There should be no stigma attached to this trajectory for those students.  They should be given much on-the-job training throughout their high school course work, and some of the high school course work in these trade areas could be co-oped with colleges or more advanced trade schools for use after the students’ high school graduation. Btw, because rate of instruction should always be adjusted to individual students’ needs, some students realistically should take 13 years to graduate from high school with mastery of its content, and some gifted students may need only 11 years to graduate with mastery from high school.

3rd Poster: 

@maryelizabethsings

BRAVO!!!

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4th Poster:

It was the federal government, not business, that insisted on using standardized tests to evaluate success and failure.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

To 4th Poster, in answer to your statement to me:

Yes, the massive standardized testing thrust in education did occur through the federal government’s impetus, under the Bush II administration of “No Child Left Behind.”  The Republican Bush administration was heavily under the influence of business leaders throughout our nation.  Many educators today believe that that testing was implemented to “expose” how “bad” public education is, so that capitalists and business profiteers could swoop down and make money off tax-payers dollars for education by “improving” public education.  As I have often said, nothing is totally pure in life, and Bush et al may have had some pure reasons for this massive change, but don’t close your eyes to the business push he was also getting.

Btw, President Obama and his Secy. of Education, imo, lean too far toward the validity of test results and have too much faith in charter schools to come up with the “answers.”  Bottom line, listen to educators themselves instead of politicians (or educators who cater to politicians like Michelle Rhee) and business men and women, like Bill Gates, well meaning though he may be.  Gates is NOT an educator, and in fact, he never graduated from college (his interests were in business, not in academics).

4th Poster:

@MaryElizabethSings

Our mixed-economy statist system forces businesspeople to seek cozy relationships with politicians and rewards businesspeople who are good at such relationships.  This has all sorts of corrupting and distorting effects on both business and government.  This is one reason why we need less statism.

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MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings1 minute ago

@ 4th Poster

What you call “statism,” I call public service through government, not for profit.  Nothing is pure in life.  Public education must reform from within, not from without.  It must never become the vehicle of stealthy profiteers.  Our former Superintendent of Schools for Georgia, Dr. John Barge, knowingly lost his job in speaking this truth to power in Gov. Deal’s administration. Bravo to him!

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Consciousness

Years ago, in my twenties when I lived in New York City, I started a poem entitled, “Consciousness.”  I still remember the first line:  “A child came into consciousness at nine.”  That is all of the poem I remember, now, fifty years later.  The child was I, and I was nine years old when I realized that I saw the world somewhat askew from most people.  That frightened me as a child, the knowing of that.  But, in my senior years, I have come to thank God for the gift of consciousness.

This week has been Easter week, 2015, and today was Easter Sunday.

I wrote the two following posts on a local journalist’s blog from the Atlanta Journal- Constitution which should show my “askew thinking” that has been with me all of my life.  I have wondered, at times in my life, if this consciousness were a blessing or a curse.  I know today, for certain, that it has been a blessing, and that I will spend the remainder of my life sharing, through my writings, my God-given, authentic perceptions and my unique consciousness.  My words do not need the explanation of, or the prefacing of, their context of any length.  It is the consciousness which I wish the readers of my blog to understand, not the subject matter per se.  Thanks be to God for this gift.

Columnist Jay Bookman’s blog, the AJC, April 4, 2015, Easter Eve:

Other Poster: “But if you think that this (Iranian) deal has the well being of humanity (as peace per se) as a goal, that is seriously mistaken in my view.”

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Mary Elizabeth: “Do you think that every area of consciousness can be voiced?  Do you think that all of our perceptions can be encapsulated in a few facts or in words?  I do not.  There is much more going on in this evolution of agreement between the U. S. (and 4 or 5 other nations) with Iran than meets the eye on the surface.  The control of nuclear weapons would be the control of the vehicles of mass destruction for the sustaining of life on this planet, but the real culprit in that possible mass destruction would be a lack of wisdom, vision, and communication skills.

You are more cynical than I am.  I trust Obama’s vision, his wisdom, and his communication skills.  Read his Nobel Peace Prize, once again, and internalize it.  Then, you will understand what he is about and what he is after here and in other areas of the world and other areas of the Middle East.  He also understands the evolution of human consciousness over time, as did Jefferson and Lincoln. This is a man of far-reaching intellect, beyond the petty or the power per se.”

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Mary Elizabeth to the same Other Poster, later on Easter Eve:

“President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize speech is layered with pragmatism and idealism.  I believe that that is how I see the world, also. Through this speech, you will understand where this president’s mind and priorities are.

This speech, given by him in the first months of his presidency, is almost prophetic in what would follow, as we can now look back and see what has transpired on the world’s stage since 2009.  Many said, at the time, that President Obama had been given this Peace Prize too early, that he had not yet proven himself on the world’s stage enough to have earned the Nobel Peace Prize.

I wrote in 2009 and I also believe today that he earned that Peace Prize in 2009 because of what was in his consciousness that he would later live out on the world’s stage through his presidency.  Thought, or consciousness, always precedes action or concrete facts played out on the world’s stage, and the Nobel Committee understood that.”

Link: http://jaybookman.blog.ajc.com/2015/04/03/to-critics-of-iran-deal-ok-whats-your-plan/

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