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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GOOD FRIDAY, 2015, and FIRST SEDER MEAL, PASSOVER, 2015, both fall on April, 3, 2015.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all have the common ancestor of Abraham, the father of both Issac and Ishmael.  Listen to both the Hebrew Seder Music and the song “Amazing Grace” sung by Gospel Singer and Prison Reformer, Wintley Phipps, below:

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The Evolution of the World Egalitarian Consciousness through Gay Rights

From AJC columnist Jay Bookman’s blog, April 2, 2015: http://jaybookman.blog.ajc.com/2015/04/02/events-in-indiana-georgia-prove-the-world-has-changed/

My ideas were, also, presented on AJC columnist Jim Galloway’s blog, April 2, 2015, at the following link:

http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2015/04/02/coke-others-pile-on-in-last-day-effort-to-bury-religious-liberty-bill/

AJC  columnist Jay Bookman: “They sought this fight (religious bill which would have adversely effected gay rights) as a demonstration of their political strength, and in conservative Georgia in a conservative General Assembly, it so far appears as if they lost that fight. That says a lot.”

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Mary Elizabeth: “What it says to me is that the collective consciousness, of realized equality for all human beings, is expanding across America.  It also says to me that the corporate monetary withdrawal from states that are not in tune with the times in consciousness, like WalMart (ironically) and Coca-Cola, has had its impact in turning the Indiana and Georgia legislation around regarding gay rights.

Now, if this nation would continue in its evolving consciousness toward greater self-government and equality for all, it might still become the beacon for the world in enlightenment, as our Founding Fathers and A. Lincoln had desired.”

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Mary Elizabeth’s responses to two separate posters are combined, below:  
“This corporate swaying of the legislators in Indiana and Georgia is telling us, as a nation, that the will of the people (greater consciousness toward equality for gay rights) CAN sway even the decisions of high-powered corporations and their CEOs.  These profit-based corporations do not want to go against the majority will of the people because they do not want the people to turn against them and, more on target, they are shrewd and perhaps even wise enough to know that the will of the people will determine the economic growth, eventually.This is what I think is the larger outcome of this issue.  I had thought that corporations might, eventually, control the people’s voices, but now I see that, in fact, the people’s voices (or their collective will) will control many societal decisions made by corporations because, although the purposes of corporations are profit and money, the will of the people for justice and equality is greater than their desire for money and profit, in America.  Jefferson lives!The will of the people, through their evolving egalitarian consciousness, will prevail  over the personal will for profit by elite, controlling billionaires. This is the playing out of the old Jefferson vs. Hamilton battle, in terms of what is best for America, in the long-run.  Jefferson wins every time because his egalitarian ideas are the heart of America. Hamilton’s free market contributions were very much needed economically for our nation’s success, but Jefferson, with his egalitarian vision, rules supreme.  This is not simply a victory for Jefferson. It is a victory for our world’s soul.”

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Figmo, you are misunderstanding from my way of thinking.  This corporate swaying of the legislators in Indiana and Georgia is telling us, as a nation, that the will of the people (greater consciousness toward equality for gay rights) CAN sway even the decisions of high-powered corporations and their CEOs.  These profit-based corporations do not want to go against the MAJORITY will of the people because they do not want the people to turn against them and, more on target perhaps, they are shrewd and perhaps even wise enough to know that the will of the people will determine the economic growth eventually.

This is what I think is the larger outcome of this issue.  I had thought that corporations might control the people’s voice, but now I see that it is the opposite because corporations want profit and money, and the will of the people is stronger for justice and equality than money and profit in America.  Jefferson lives!

LeninTime

LeninTime :

Although I don’t agree with your conclusion, this is very well put:

“These profit-based corporations do not want to go against the majority will of the people because they do not want the people to turn against them and they are shrewd and perhaps even wise enough to know that the will of the people will determine the economic growth eventually.”

alexander2

alexander2: 

@MaryElizabethSings

If Walmart and Target both told the people to stick it, where would they shop? If the majority of people were convinced that God was sending a great flood, they would stock life rafts to the ceiling. the will of the people appeased and the buck goes in the till, everyone’s happy…(?)

MaryElizabethSings

MaryElizabethSings : 

@alexander2

We are talking about the will of the people through evolving consciousness over time to a world controlled by this greater egalitarian consciousness, not controlled by the personal profit of billionaires.  Jefferson vs. Hamilton in what is best for America in the long-term.  Jefferson wins every time because his ideas are the heart of America.  Hamilton’s free market contributions were very much needed economically for our nation’s success, but Jefferson, with his egalitarian soul, rules supreme.  This is not simply a victory for Jefferson; it is a victory for our world’s soul.

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Public Education and the Prostitution of America

SAVING PUBLIC EDUCATION
I just posted this statement on Maureen Downey’s “Get Schooled” blog at the AJC. I decided to post it here, also, for readers to consider:
“If public education ever becomes the focus of those who are mainly seeking profit or monetary gain through the education of children and the work of teachers, we will have prostituted the public educational system for America envisioned by our idealistic and brilliant Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson. Moreover, in my opinion, that would lead to the prostitution of the highest ideals and ideas of America, itself.”
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