Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dear Mr. Duncan:

Please, let's cut to the chase here, shall we?

First and foremost, the deliberately informed among us are well aware of the economics of this assault on teachers and unions, and who stands to benefit. Furthermore, Mr. Duncan, we know exactly who considers the economics of this assault a 'verboten' topic. To whit: advocates for teachers--and for TRUE reform of public education--are quickly directed away from this topic of 'who benefits' with the adjuration, "don't come across as a nutty conspiracy theorist!" Thus, we teachers continue to struggle with helping others understand that the current assault on teachers and unions is conflated with exactly who profits from privatization.

Second, most of the REAL problems in public education stem from federal legislation (NCLB, now RTTT) which mandates stultifying and pedantic standardized testing; AND from the severe and worsening decrease in funding for our schools, libraries, head start programs, free meals, field trips, and ALL the measurable, tangible resources required to provide a quality education for our children. Of course, you and your sycophants don't want the hoi polloi to get a clue about this, so the well-paid media propagandists have identified and vilified the 'common enemy': mean, selfish, lazy, narcissistic, BAD TEACHERS and EVIL UNIONS!

Third, almost half (42%) of all children in the United States live in low-income households, where their parent(s) earn just enough to cover basic expenses (current data from NCCP). Personally, I think this is an under-representation of the number of children who live in households defined as 'low-income,' given that less than one thousand people in the US own and control better than 95% of our nation's wealth. Nevertheless, 'low-income household' is synonymous with precarious employment, frequent moves, poor nutrition, and a multitude of other threats to our children’s well-being, not to mention their ability to LEARN.

In short, children of low-income households must contend with a host of social, behavioral and psychological issues, all of which impede a child's ability to learn. And, for children in poverty level households (about 21%), mere survival trumps education every time. These seldom mentioned facts are clearly antithetical to your agency’s current assault on teachers and unions, so we activists are shouted down or diminished whenever we bring up poverty and its measurable impact on our children AND on public education.

Here are a few of the benefits you and your supporters might expect to reap:

1) Privatization will mean profits for newly minted private education groups, as well as some of the Bush clan (and any other wealthy investors who plan to snarf crumbs from the privatization platter).

2) Those members of the wealthy elite who still need to convince themselves they are acting out of compassion—and giving charitably—can allude to their commitment to our children and to education.

3) Everyone KNOWS that only the uber wealthy possess an intellectual prowess that elevates them above the poor, pathetic hoi polloi, both materially and intellectually! Why, if we didn't have the wonderful, paternalistic corporatists around to tell us how to vote, what to wear, what to watch, and what to believe--why, where, oh, where would we BE?!?!

Now that I’ve gotten all that off my chest, let me assure you, Mr. Duncan, that your indefensible machinations will not prevent me from teaching. My students routinely tell me that I help them understand math, and that I make learning math fun. My STUDENTS’ assessments of my ability to teach are what really toasts my bread.

When I teach, I am solely invested in finding whatever methods work for ALL of my students, in order to give them multiple opportunities to have "AHA!" moments as they learn to play math, the oldest game we humans have created. Those "AHA!" moments are the big brass ring for me, Mr. Duncan—and for countless other EXCELLENT teachers across this nation. And you can NEVER take that away from us.

As ever, I remain,

Silence B. Damned

Saturday, August 15, 2009



Well, beloved neighboring country, the umpteenth person has invited me to leave the United States, so I am writing to you today to request citizenship in your great nation.

First, let me address your potential concerns regarding the above-mentioned invitations. You see, I have been advocating for health insurance reform here in the United States (please do stifle your giggles for a wee while), and the Angry Group (nee Dana Gould) has decided that those of us who support reform would be happier there in Canada, because your health care system is purportedly the model for the reform we are trying to shove down everyones' throats here (I'm truly not into that shoving down business, Canada, I assure you--I'm just repeating the rhetoric I keep hearing...). So, even though I love my country, perhaps it's time for me to listen to the in-crowd. Hence, my sincere request to gain admittance to your great nation.

Anyway, here's my resume for your consideration:

I am reasonably intelligent, with a BA from an ivy league college and a Master's in Sociology. I have a fair command of the English language, and am willing to learn French (I'm already learning to speak Spanish, which is great fun!).

I do a lot of volunteer work with children, and with survivors of relationship violence. I will certainly continue to do volunteer work after I move to your fine nation, in whatever capacity works best for you.

I am a teacher. Granted, I'm currently unemployed, but I really love teaching and I genuinely enjoy working with young people. My last administrator told me I'm too intelligent to teach "these kids" (by which I can only surmise she meant the overwhelmingly Latino population in our school). But, my kids loved me and they worked very hard to learn math with me. I prefer to reframe my former administrator's assertion: I am skilled now with multicultural groups, which should stand me in good stead there in Canada, although I'll be the new kid on the block.

Oh, I'm also an artist. I would like to continue to create art there in Canada, and am quite willing to explore the artistic sensibilities of your wonderful myriad cultures. I will bring my own resources with me, so you won't have to provide anything extra for my art addiction.

I am an activist and a pacifist. I know, I know--these labels are frequently contradictive here in the Angry Group-dominated climate in the US, but there are a few of us who remain active while advocating for peace. Suffice it to say, I'm a fix-it kinda gal, and would like to remain involved in political activities in a like manner in your fine country.

I suppose I should be completely honest with you about my health--or lack thereof. I do have an old back injury that will require some kind of intervention. I've been told I need an MRI, but I have not had the resources nor the insurance here in the US to afford me that opportunity. I regret to be such a health care burden right out of the chute, but I promise I will do everything possible to recover my good health and to stay healthy and productive for the remainder of my days on this fine planet.

Oh, and I hate to rush you on this decision, O Canada, but I am currently unemployed (and NOT because I don't want to work--I assure you that Ms. Malkin is dreadfully mistaken on this issue). I am having a difficult time getting a new teaching position in this rather insular district where everyone knows everyone else, and my former administrator has certainly warned everyone that I tend to use such words as "uber" and "ubiquitous"--which no red-blooded Texan would EVER consider proper English.

So, if you could rush your decision, I will be eternally grateful.

I look forward to hearing from you soon. In the meanwhile, I am teaching myself the words to "O Canada." Such a lovely anthem...

Until next we correspond, I remain ever your most humble

Silence B. Damned

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

The Penultimate Irony

All hail, Fellow Earthlings,

Is it not the penultimate irony that here in the US the Corporatists promote a system of education that produces intellectually stunted factory fodder, and then whine (Vis-à-vis their media lapdogs) about the stupidity of the masses?!

I remain your humble, if erudite

Silence B. Damned

Friday, February 01, 2008

I've been a closet economic anthropologist since my days at University. I assert that we humans are our own worst enemy, because we blithely and greedily engage in economic behaviors without examining the import or the impact of such behaviors. Our economic behaviors have become more important and more influential than ALL of our other behaviors, comprising the framework within which we do all things political or spiritual. Please note that I mean WE as in our entire species.

Humans are now a systems-stressing economic resource, yet we seem incapable of seeing the forest for the trees. All other economic resources are being taxed beyond the system's capacity, yet we sustain a rhetoric that smacks of the blame and shame game (warring with one another, blaming others without examining our own roles, etc...), when we should be seeking ways to fix the problem.

A great philosopher once predicted that capitalism would eventually collapse, and that economic behavior would evolve into a more egalitarian, cooperative means of production. Capitalists, politicians, and others with a vested interest in maintaining an oppressive status quo promoted a pejorative meme that taints this great man's scholarship to this very day. We should take note of the enormous energy expended to denigrate this man's collected works.

We too can attack Karl Marx on the strength of his detractors' red herring meme, or we can emulate his courageous endeavor to examine human economic behavior as it exists today and envision the changes that MUST occur if we are to progress as a species. Do we have to throw out the baby (capitalism) with the bath water (Corporate Megalomaniacs)? Is communism the inevitable alternative to capitalism, and would that really be a bad thing? Can we continue to subsume our spiritual selves in servitude to the almighty dollar?

Change is often a big scary barrier to personal growth, isn't it?...

Still, as another great philosopher said, "We MUST be the change we wish to see in the world."

So, this starts with me. My awareness of the core issues described herein above shapes and informs my activism every day. I refuse to buy into the divisiveness that the Corporate Megalomaniacs promote to keep us from examining these real issues, and that includes divisiveness predicated by education, status, or any other hierarchical measure. We The People are on the verge of a major change--perhaps cataclysmic--and we have the intellectual capacity and the spiritual framework within which to propel ourselves into an amazing future.

Despite all that has happened in the last seven years, I anticipate success. I remember how We The People responded after 9/11 and after Katrina and after the BIG Tsunami (etc...). We rolled up our shirt sleeves and got to work (well, sans the Corporatists, who seem to view such events as handy ways to thin the masses...) I believe that The Human Spirit evident in our times of crisis will prevail. I've only just realized that I always have.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Secret War

There is a secret war being waged, and I would like to be among the first to publicly announce this fact. You will not see information about this war in the mainstream media, nor will you hear the pundits discuss it ad nauseum, the way they discuss the current crop of presidential candidates or the vile "secular progressives" who "hate America."

No, you will not hear anything about this war through established news sources. In fact, you will have to become a bit of a sleuth in order to put together the pieces of the puzzle and understand what has been happening under our very noses. Below is a website I just found while doing my own sleuthing. I think it is essential information to help you understand this Secret War. I hope you will read what you find there.

This war is being waged in a manner wholly unlike traditional warfare. Bloodshed is rare, and masked as the work of an insignificant number of 'terrorists' who provide both a handy smokescreen and an effective diversion from the truth. The enemy is, in fact, a great pretender, and masquerades as friends and allies of our country. Our leaders, in their arrogance, do not see the viper they've clasped to their breasts, and this is the primary reason the enemy has succeeded thus far. If the enemy remains successful well past the 'killing thrust' they will still act as our friends and allies, eager to help us in our time of great distress.

This war has been ongoing for centuries, but that is the true nature of our enemy. This war has metamorphosed as our world economy has evolved, but that is one of the great talents of our highly adaptable enemy. Furthermore, time is not relevant in this war, only the outcome.

The primary means of waging this war have been economic. Herein lies the bulk of my personal research. The various disparate threads weaving themselves together into the macabre tapestry I am describing all lead back to economic behavior which--on the surface--looks like normal behavior among allies. Our enemy's patience is immeasurable. The killing thrust of the "sword" will likely occur even as our enemy is smiling at us and holding hands, promising help and succor in our time of need.

If the people who are attacking us succeed in their war, the US dollar will be devalued to a level never seen in our entire history. Our already fragile economy will require 'intervention' by the very countries least likely to have our best interests at heart. This bloodless coup will irretrievably alter the economic landscape of our world. And, when our foreign investors call their destructive debt markers, it will irretrievably alter the economic landscape of our nation.

Is there yet hope? Our nation will first have to acknowledge and address the true enemy, which will require that our criminal administration cease and desist holding their hands (see Craig Unger's book). Current economic decisions are the primary weapons of our enemy, and we remain complicit in our own demise until and unless We The People get a clue and be the change we wish to see in the world. I still wear my rose colored glasses about this potential recovery, but I can't say for how long...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Impeach Cheney NOW!

Another missive from an activist friend:

My dear friend, and fellow citizens:

I read recently a comment posted on Crooks and Liars decrying the impeachment of Dick Cheney. The author of said post asserted that impeaching Cheney would make him a martyr, and that "this is what they want!" Setting aside for now the question of who comprises this undefined 'they,' consider this: this is a specious, vacuous argument, spun for us, I'm confident, by the Republicans themselves. "If we believe that impeachment will turn the nation against the Democrats, we won't impeach!" We The People have begun to amass our voices and our votes. We The People want impeachment. We The People MUST use impeachment to heal our great nation, and to restore ourselves in the eyes of the rest of the world.

As Teddy said, "To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." Two things: 1) this applies to all other elected offices, most particularly to the Vice-President's; and 2) Teddy was a Republican--a TRUE Republican.

Be steadfast in your bravery, my fellow activists!

Until next we meet, I remain

Your Humble Servant,
Ms. Silence B. Damned

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Guest Blogger

Greetings and Salutations, Fine Fellow Americans,

I have been contacted by an activist friend who requested that I include her most recent letter in my next blog. It appears below:

My dear friend, and fellow citizens:

I feel a short note is in order by way of introduction so that my future missives will be readily recognized by those who don't know me personally. I have watched the metamorphosis of our country's journalists into bloviating talking heads whose honesty is frequently in question. Having witnessed this travesty, I have decided to expand my advocacy to a macro level, so that my ability to absorb and compile vital information will stand our citizenry in good stead. In the near future, my first detailed missive--regarding our nation's economy--will be posted herein (thank you, dear friend). I will continue to post such missives until I am confident that honest journalists again predominate in our nation.

Until then, I remain,

Your Humble Servant,
Ms. Silence B. Damned