A calling ...

"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."

"Make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

- Buckminster Fuller

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Guest Blogger (Norman Kurland) New Party, Traditional Roots

DRAFT#16, MARCH 28, 2014

We are reaching out to all who are searching for and willing to lead a positive and peaceful Second American Revolution.

Our agenda is fully consistent with the spirit of the original American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Party bases its agenda and fundamental principles on the largely forgotten Ninth Amendment of the American Constitution. This Amendment subordinates the coercive powers of government to the God-given sovereignty, freedom, dignity and “inalienable rights” of each human person. America’s founders devoted their “lives, fortunes and sacred honor” to defend this principle. By reviving popular understanding and support for America’s founding principles our Party will bring about a new unity among now divided Americans on the politically suppressed issue of who should own and control the future wealth of our nation.

The central feature in the platform of the American Revolutionary Party is its proposed Capital Homestead Act. This act calls for a comprehensive restructuring of America’s economic policies to grow the economy in ways that create a nation of capital owners, citizens who are independent of big government, big business, and big labor for their economic well-being. This Act is based on the party’s Just Third Way philosophy. This philosophy embodies a morality, respect for life and human dignity, and sense of the common good that is more just than socialism (which institutionalizes envy) and capitalism (which institutionalizes greed). Because it is based on changing the system for financing future growth to equalize ownership opportunity, Capital Homesteading will lift poor and middle-income Americans, without redistributing existing wealth from today’s tiny ownership elite.

[[The fundamental right of every person to become an owner is reflected in Article 17 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which reads:
  • (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
  • (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.]]
Through the radical [[systemic]] transfer of economic and money power from government to the citizens under a Capital Homestead Act, the party will attract authentic leaders to run for offices at all levels. From political independents and frustrated activists of other parties, the American Revolutionary Party will seek out leaders who are willing to dedicate their lives to serving, teaching, and empowering others. The American Revolutionary Party will recreate from the ground-up the political order envisioned by America’s revolutionary founders of "one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all" or, in Lincoln's terms, "the last best hope of mankind."

As part of a movement respectful of civilization's most humanizing traditions, the Party can help overcome the so-called “clash of civilizations” by bringing out the best of all civilizations in their common understanding of justice as a necessary moral framework for peace, freedom, and democracy. America, by launching for itself the Second American Revolution based on these values, will serve as a model and beacon of hope for every democratic nation seeking a free, just, and life-enhancing future for its citizens.

We, in the spirit of America's revolutionary founders, all of whom recognized that concentrated power is inherently corrupting, will promote economic democracy as a key to effective political democracy and freedom through the following:
q  Promote Economic and Social Justice through the Just Third Way
Consistent with traditional principles of social and economic justice, the agenda of the American Revolutionary Party will build a just market-based model of economic democracy, resting on four policy pillars of the Just Third Way:
1.      Democratize Capital Credit and Ownership of Productive Assets, in order to promote full and sustainable production, a life-enhancing environment, affordable shelter, democratic and transparent corporate governance, and rising property incomes for all. The moral omission of every economy on the globe is the indifference of political leaders to exclusionary barriers faced by ordinary citizens and the poor in gaining effective access to capital ownership and capital credit.
2.      Limit the Economic Power of the State, in order to end special privileges and monopolies, especially discriminatory access by already wealthy people to the money-creation and credit powers of the Federal Reserve System.
3.      Restore Private Property Rights, especially in corporate equity shares, by reversing laws and court decisions that deny capital owners: (a) full voting powers in corporate governance; (b) full transparency over management decisions; and (c) access to full profit distributions. Discriminatory double- and triple-taxation of corporate profits should be ended by full dividend payouts, so that capital incomes will be taxed at the same rates as labor incomes and new capital will be financed by the issuance of new shares to workers and other new owners.
4.      Restore Free Markets and Just Trade as the most democratic means to determine just prices, just wages, and just profits. This would eliminate monopolistic, bureaucratic, or other coercive or unjust attempts to substitute centralized control over economic choices for the more democratic, more objective and more efficient laws of supply and demand.
q  End Wage and Welfare Slavery through Justice-Based Incomes for All
We will reform American income distribution policy to shift from its present reliance on inflationary wages, job-destroying employer benefits, and incomes dependent on redistributing incomes earned by taxpayers. Instead, we will promote income independence for every citizen by accelerating investment in new productive assets in ways that widely broaden individual capital accumulations and property incomes.
q  Expand Capital Ownership through Capital Homesteading
We will enable every man, woman and child from birth to set up a personal Capital Homestead Account at a local bank and receive at least $3,000 [[$7,000]] of Fed-created, interest-free, and insured capital credit every year throughout their lives. Citizens could invest their Capital Homestead credit in newly issued growth stock of an expanding American private sector, with such credit repayable entirely with future profits derived from the added productiveness of capital assets.

We will reduce Social Security, Medicare and welfare benefits to the extent property incomes from accumulated assets in a citizen’s Capital Homestead Account replace that citizen’s dependency on incomes redistributed from other taxpaying workers and capital owners. This would radically reduce the present value of estimated future deficits for Medicare and Social Security, a mounting burden on future generations now projected at $70 trillion, or a hidden debt of almost $250,000 on each man, woman, and child in America.
q  Lift Barriers to Universal Access to Money Power and Broad-Based Ownership of Newly-Created Capital Assets
We will reactivate Section 13 of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 to supply asset-backed currency through the discount windows of each of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks in order to: (a) promote sustainable, non-inflationary regional growth of industry, commerce, and agriculture through Capital Homestead Accounts and (b) de-monopolize the power of money, productive credit and ownership and decentralize that power to every citizen through a local bank as a new right of citizenship. Make each of the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks owned and governed by its regional citizens.
q  Create a Radically More Simple and Just Tax System
We will control government spending through a tax system designed to: (a) encourage accelerated rates of investment, sustainable green growth in urban and rural communities, productive jobs, and widespread ownership opportunities; (b) eliminate the double tax on corporate profits and job-destroying Social Security, Medicare, and other payroll taxes; [[(c) continue to fund all entitlements out of general revenues until reduced and eventually exceeded by capital incomes earned through Capital Homestead Account assets;]] (d) eliminate all individual income taxes below a livable income exemption of $30,000 per adult and $20,000 per dependent, [or $100,000 for a family of four]; and (e) balance the budget and gradually repay old debt through a single [[individual]] income tax rate on all incomes above [[personal exemptions]].

We will enable all citizens to report their incomes from all sources on a postal card, while allowing corporations, as with subchapter S corporations, partnerships, and cooperatives, to avoid business income taxes by treating full dividend payouts and other profit-based distributions as business deductions taxable when received at the personal level.

We will provide citizens whose incomes, including from private charity, are below the poverty line, with a monthly voucher check to meet their basic subsistence needs until their Capital Homesteading dividends and labor incomes rise above the poverty level.

q  Avoid Concentrations in Wealth Transfers from One Generation to the Next
We will change inheritance and gift taxes to encourage the top 5% of wealth-holders to distribute broadly their capital accumulations from one generation to the next through Capital Homestead Accounts of individual members of their families, workers, teachers, the poor and disabled, and other propertyless citizens [[with little or no income-producing assets]]. CHA accumulations of recipientsover $1 million would be taxed to encourage rich donors to spread out their wealth.

We, American Revolutionaries of the 21st Century, stand for the preservation of the following social guidelines:
q  Promote Harmony in the Relationships Between the Moral, Religious and Political Institutions
We will recognize and preserve the historic role of religion in teaching universal moral virtues, deeply rooted in the founding of America as a revolutionary nation. America’s unity, we also reaffirm, was based on the freedom of every person to pursue his own religious and spiritual life within a religiously pluralistic society, with no religious authority put in a position where it could use the coercive powers of the state to infringe on the freedom or spiritual lives of individuals, whether or not they belong to any organized religion.
q  Strengthen the Family as the Basic Social Institution of Society
We will elevate the needs and concerns of the family (the basic social unit of any moral society) and the protection of children to the highest national priorities in order to secure the perpetual advance of human civilization.
q  Favor a Culture of Life and Citizen Empowerment [[With Maximum Empowerment and Choice For All Citizens]]
Our Just Third Way economic agenda would remove all economic rationalizations for having an abortion by reforming the economic system to provide economic incentives to promote the lives of expectant mothers and the unborn.  However, we will avoid both government coercion, on the one hand, and taxpayer subsidies, on the other, to influence decisions on controversial issues where citizens are sharply divided on moral or religious grounds, such as abortion on demand.  Such divisive issues should instead be settled in the marketplace of moral ideas through the powers of persuasion and reason, rather than through the force of government.

q  Fund and Encourage Educational Choice and Responsibility of Parents
We will offer educational vouchers to all families based on the (measured) educational needs of each child, so that the primary responsibility and adequate resources for exercising choice of schooling resides with parents, not with any monopoly of educational services. Teachers, school administrators and teachers’ unions would thus play a supportive and more empowering role in closing the educational opportunity gap in the American educational system.
q  Enhance Lifetime Learning Opportunities for all Citizens
Since political democracy assumes and requires educated, informed, and independent thinking citizens, we will create a cultural environment that enhances quality learning opportunities for all citizens at all stages of their lives.
q  Support Private Universal Health Insurance and Reduce Costs of Funding New Medical Advances
We will encourage the private sector to offer universal catastrophic health care insurance, reinforced with health care vouchers for health care insurance for those who cannot afford it, and provide Capital Homesteading capital credit to health plan subscribers and health plan providers – the only two groups with a direct stake in quality health care. With access to low-cost capital credit and direct ownership opportunities, these stakeholders would acquire control and would become co-owners of comprehensive and competitive health care delivery systems. A restoration of power to stakeholders would help restore the sacred relationship between patients and their health providers that has been lost in many of today’s [[Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs).]]

We will condition all taxpayer-supported medical research financing support on royalty-free licensing of all patentable inventions in order to stimulate competition among suppliers and reduce the costs of producing pharmaceuticals and other life-enhancing health technologies.
q  Discourage Judicial Activism that Threatens a Just Constitutional Order
We will encourage the judiciary to return to the original intent of the founders in interpreting and ruling on the U.S. Constitution and discourage judges from making laws that should be left to elected legislators or to the people by referenda.

We will seek rulings from the Supreme Court that restore the original meaning to the Ninth Amendment and reinstate the rights and powers of the people under natural law principles understood by the founders and pre-existing English common law, including that of universal access to “the means of acquiring and possessing property,” as acknowledged in the Virginia and Massachusetts Declarations of Rights.

q  Offer More Creative and Just Approaches to Global Conflict Resolution
We will promote the Abraham Federation for creating a democratic nation of capital owners as the ultimate check on concentrated power, as a force to marginalize extremists, and as an economic foundation for justice, stability and political democracy in [[the West Bank/Gaza/Israel,]] Iraq, Afghanistan, and other world trouble spots.
q  Lead the World in Restoring A Fixed and More Just Global Standard for Foreign Currency Exchange Rates to Avoid Wage Arbitrage
We will convene a Second Bretton Woods Conference to promote global monetary policies consistent with principles of the Just Third Way, including adoption of a [[fixed global standard for measuring the value of  a]] global reserve currency global monetary standard (beyond the gold standard, [[based on the average global cost of producing]] to the cost of a kilowatt-hour), [[while]] adjusting foreign currency exchange rates [[for trade among countries]] so that they reflect the lowest market labor rates in each country. This will create a level playing field in tradable goods and services and stem the exploitative outsourcing of jobs to low-wage countries and remove pressures for protectionist trade policies that hurt all consumers.
q  Expand Global Markets for Commercial Uses of Advanced U.S. Technologies
We will promote open global markets to enable America to sell to developing countries high technology and high-tech services that enhance civilized life for all, particularly in sustainable food production; environmentally friendly Hydrogen-Age fuel cell and solar technologies developed by NASA and other government agencies; advanced information and health technologies; and consulting on Capital Homesteading financing strategies and [[participatory]] Justice-Based Management and Governance systems.
q  Help Accelerate Third World Development and Debt Relief
We will export the social technologies of the Second American Revolution and Capital Homesteading to all nations to democratize and accelerate economic growth in developing economies, neutralize and marginalize the preachers and teachers of global terrorism, systematize greater transparency to reduce public corruption, and build sustainable Just Third Way economies from the bottom-up.
We will cancel old debt to developing countries that resulted from non-productive projects or that enriched corrupt political leaders and their cronies at the expense of the people.

q  Address Global Warming and Stewardship of the Global Environment
We will create a ten-year equivalent of the Marshall Plan or the "Race to the Moon" to conduct research, development, and financing of advanced sustainable energy technologies (many of which have already been developed by NASA and other Federal agencies but have not yet been commercialized) that reduce the levels of carbon dioxide and other pollutants from continued use of fossil fuels.

We will rapidly reduce America’s dependency on oil and fossil fuels, so that existing reserves will not be depleted before a “safety cushion” is left in the ground to handle future emergencies within an increasingly more fragile and technologically dependent world.

q  Transform the United Nations and Global Politics to Spread Economic Democracy as a Pre-Condition for Spreading Political Democracy Globally
We will use America's superpower status by bringing together a coalition of free and democratic countries supporting the Just Third Way to transform or replace the United Nations as an instrument of global peace through global economic, social and political justice.
q  Improve National Security by Winning the War on Global Terrorism
We will strengthen and transform the national security policy of America and its coalition partners by launching, unilaterally or preemptively if necessary, a Just Third Way offensive as the leading edge in the war of ideas, followed by more effective bottom-up assistance from U.S. and international development agencies in delivering a higher level of economic and social justice for poor and underdeveloped countries to eliminate breeding grounds for recruiting extremist religious and other terrorists.

We will limit American military intervention as a last resort in winning the War on Global Terrorism. Instead America should use its superpower military and economic status to lead other nations in advancing world citizen-based global governance bodies and Just Third Way initiatives within all developing countries. We should also supply, unilaterally and preemptively if necessary, all forms of assistance to revolutionary Just Third Way groups struggling to overcome genocidal dictatorships that harbor terroristic threats to global peace.

Norm Kurland, Co-Founder
Email: info@americanrevolutionaryparty.us
Mail: P.O. Box 40711, Washington, D.C. 20016

Phone: (703) 243-5155 | Fax: (703) 243-5935|

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Unalienable Rights

I just dropped off Ali at home after working at library with him until 9 pm. With binders due for a final inspection on April 2nd, before they are submitted for grading, Ali and I are running out of time. We will work Friday night again in his home. Last Friday night, Ali's mom fed me Ethiopian fried spinach with rice.

This Saturday, since I still need to assess Ali on the Constitution, and still need to teach an assess him on Westward Expansion and the Civil War, I will miss Joe's first baseball game on Saturday. Joe will be pitching. On Sunday, Ali will continue. Afterwards, when opportunities present themselves, I will need to find a way to grade all the papers from the 3rd quarter that remain ungraded. Is it any wonder why I never have time to exercise? When do I have time to hit the gym? How am I supposed to take care of myself?

So far in exhibition games, Joe has pitched three innings of no hit ball. He is able to locate his pitches, and with his bat speed up to 75 miles per hour, his throwing velocity is a little faster. Joe will likely get several hits, many of which will go for extra bases, because Joe has such a polished, mature approach at the plate. If he gets on base, since he is lightening fast, he will probably steal a few bases and score. Last year, Joe rode the bench. This year, Joe will get to be a star on his JV team.

Last Saturday, Joe's hitting coach, Chuck Hoyle, expanded Joe's understanding of the concept of a "hitter's count," where the hitter has a good idea of what pitch he should expect, particularly when the count is 2-0 (two balls and one strike.) In a 2-0 count, the pitcher wants the hitter to "chase" a ball off the plate, generally 2 to 3 ball diameters away from the plate, so Joe did a drill where the pitching machine pitched, first fastballs, then curveballs, off the plate, out of the strike zone, but where an umpire might not see properly because of "paralax". On this difficult drill, Joe was consistently crushing balls to right center -- not a single missed ball. Chuck wants Joe's eyes to light up when he gets into a hitters count, but I will miss seeing Joe's eyes light up when he gets into a "hitter's count." Joe has such a highly trained eye at the plate, and he has practiced his strategies for working the count so effectively, I am certain he will not waste any of these opportunities.

Hopefully, Joe won't be too resentful that, for now, Ali is getting so much of my time. Mabel typically gets what's left. Joe is largely on his own, fending for himself as a student athlete. At least my wife Karen will be there. Tonight, I let Ali know that he better work hard, because I will be missing Joe's baseball game. No playing around. Ali did his part tonight. Maybe it was the Fish Fillet, fries, and a Dr. Pepper, for Ali was on his game tonight.

Last year, somebody made the decision not to place Ali in a "self-contained" class for U.S. History to 1865, I would assume, not because a team-taught environment would allow him better access the general education curriculum, but because the multidisciplinary team who constructed is IEP probably concluded that, because of Ali's severe decoding deficiencies, and difficulties with auditory processing, Ali had little chance of generating enough evidence to construct a "passing binder." In other words, I would argue, Ali's multiple disciplinary team gave up on him, probably because the cost of putting together these binders is so incredibly high, but who is paying the price? For now, I am essentially investing my resources to make it happen. That's what people do when they are desperate, and also a little bit crazy. Truly, what other choice did I have?

When I forwarded to Dr. P the letter I recently received from the Superintendent's office that my contract would not be renewed, he told me not to worry. I told him not to worry, that whatever happens, I would not let him down.

Tonight, as I was explaining that, according to the Declaration of Independence, in accordance to the philosophy of government expounded upon by John Locke, the purpose of government was to protect the "unalienable rights of people," it became clear to me that Ali had little understanding of the meaning of political "power" or more generally the nature of social tools. After some discussion, Ali concluded that having power would be a good thing: "I want power," Ali realized.

Ali was having difficulties differentiating between Locke's wording to "life, liberty, and property," versus Jefferson's change to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," so I explained that America, at it's birth, had an original sin, slavery, and that Jefferson's opposition to the institution of slavery, despite being a slaveholder himself, probably led him to eliminate Locke's emphasis on a right to "property" from the Declaration of Independence. My father, would argue, on the other hand, that George Mason, who incorporated "life, liberty, and property" into the Virginia Declaration of Rights, must have been extremely disappointed in Jefferson's omission of, leading with the means of acquiring and possessing property" as an unalienable right. Many people today, I explained, unlike Bill Gates, have little or no power because most people lack the means of acquiring and possessing property.

All of the other 6th grade history students who are doing portfolio assessment are in Mr. McDuff's self-contained history class. A few other students in Mr. Sherman's team-taught class should have probably been doing portfolio assessment with Mr. McDuff in his self-contained class, but when there was any doubt, where students were passing multiple choice tests, I opted to go with traditional multiple choice state test -- I had a sneaking suspicion that portfolio assessment would be a tricky, costly affair. Although I worry that some of these students for whom I decided not to move forward with portfolio assessment, will most likely not pass state testing, based on declining results in multiple choice testing, I feel comfortable that their placement in a class with Mr. Sherman, probably the best history teacher I have ever come across, has been appropriate, both from an educational and educational resources standpoint.

A few students in Mr. McDuff's class have proven unable to generate sufficient evidence. Peter, a charter member of my unholy trinity from 4th period, for example, cannot handle portfolio assessment in Mr. McDuff's class. Given the trend in education toward increased accountability through tests, tests, tests, we are seeing students like Peter, whose likelihood of earning a high school diploma, despite Special Education Services and accommodations, already in 6th grade, appearing slim to none. With portfolio binders due several weeks before the online state US History test, Mr. McDuff wisely "punted" with students like Peter, who clearly are not going to make it.

When the decision to go forward with Ali's binder, truly I had little idea of what to expect, other than I knew I had my work cut out for me. I wondered why Dr. P wanted me to embark on such a costly, risky assignment. My guess is that Dr. P sensed that I needed a challenge and that taking on this assignment would lead me to rise to the occasion. Or, maybe Dr. P wanted to provide me an opportunity to become more engaged in the process of teaching a "2nd prep" or subject, so as a Special Education Teacher I could develop more valuable skills.

According to the principles under IDEA (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) Federal Law that all students are entitled to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The "appropriateness" of a student's placement is largely interpreted in decisions that hinge on what the multidisciplinary team concludes is the Least Restrictive Environment:

To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled, and that special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. (IDEA, 20 U.S.C. § 1412)

Tonight, Ali was able to generate "evidence" that he could describe the political ideas that led to the American Revolution, including the political thinking of John Locke, who argued that every person has an unalienable right to life, liberty, and property.

Ali was also able to describe the location of Ghana (300-1200 AD), Mali (1200-1400 AD), and Songhai (1400-1600 AD), as well as explain how these empires rose to power by controlling the salt and gold trade, heavily taxing traders who came south in caravans through their cities and offering protection, through silent barter, and later by trading gold with Portugese traders for European manufactured goods.

But what's the point? It all seems like a huge gamble to me. On the other hand, seemingly impossible challenges invigorate me. If it were up to me, I would fly a Jolly Roger. What do I care if I crash and burn? The thrill is what makes it fun!

After reading my previous post that, because of my lack of sleep, my voice had slurred, my mom was unrelenting until I called Dr. Prinz to report the incident. Mom feared that I might be about to have a major stroke. Personally, I felt my words were blown out of proportion. Because of my diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as my slurred speech, however Dr. Prinz strongly recommended that I have a Carotid Doppler test, sooner and not later, so he could see whether blood flow to my brain was being compromised. Thus, on my birthday, I was at the hospital having my carotid artery examined. The Innova clinic in Franconia, thankfully, made it a relatively painless, hassle-free affair.

My birthday examination revealed a "moderate" build up of plaque in my left side, and a "mild" build up on my right side. My mom insisted that I sign a release so she could have access to my medical records and advocate for me, and provide family historical context, something for which I was a little uncomfortable, but also on some level appreciated. Fortunately, since I was willing to grant verbal access to my information with Dr. Prinz, I was willing to compromise and keep mom happy without granting too much of an intrusion. Mom pushed her way into coming to my appointment where Dr. Prinz rolled out my medications plan and we discussed some medical goals.

Dr. Prinz prescribed a statin and blood pressure medication to address my macro-vascular issues. Diabetes, he explained, affects micro-vascular issues, such as eyes, kidneys, etc., but the more urgent priority is to take care of the plaque buildup in my arteries and begin making lifestyle changes. The Daily Double needs to no longer be literally a daily drive through staple. And I need to find time to take care of myself. Spring vacation cannot come soon enough.

Bottom line: I need to exercise more, eat less, and take new medications. Taking medications is easy. Changing a lifestyle is not.

A mountain of debt, in my mind, makes keeping my job a more urgent priority than maintaining my health -- that was a huge factor in me moving forward with portfolio assessment with Ali. Captain Ahab would be proud of my unrelenting pursuit of the White Whale of education - Adequate Yearly Progress.

Lacking the means of acquiring and possessing sufficient property to have any sense of job security and true independence, with my mom feeling she needs to intervene with me so that I protect my health, I wondered aloud to Ali whether government is protecting the average person's unalienable rights to life, liberty, and property. Alluding to the homeless person Ali noticed recently, I argued that, unlike Bill Gates, who thanks the capital he owns, his property, probably earns a million dollars in the time we drink a soda, the average person has little power and little sense that government is functioning for the people by the people. I reminded Ali of Locke's exhortation, that when government ceases to do it's job, the people have an obligation to work together to change the government. Even a kid with a severe decoding deficiency could understand that. Who knows, perhaps that's the payoff.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Tough Week

Kendall won't be a problem for me much longer. Enough data has been collected from enough different settings for reasonable people to conclude that, at this time, a more restrictive setting is more appropriate for both the student and the school.

With state testing 7 weeks ago, the challenge of preparing my 4th period by breaking down the heavy cognitive load of evaluative thinking in 6th grade Geometry, as well as assembling the mental resources and strategies needed for applied level thinking of Probability and Statistics, without a solid foundation, which few had developed throughout elementary school, and still don't have, feels a little overwhelming. With so many different kinds of responsibilities, all on different deadlines, and with so little time, I have been operating on about 5 hours of sleep, not ideal, but manageable, although by the end of the week, I noticed I was slurring my words. Yesterday at about 5 pm, I fell asleep with all of my clothes on, woke up a few hours later and watched Revolution, then slept for a full 8 hours. I feel terrific.

Yesterday, after the final bell, I made an executive decision and told Ali that I would have to bail out of our after our normal after school Friday History session, because both he and I were visibly exhausted. Today, on Saturday, after I help hang baseball netting around the fence at my son's high school, I will go to Ali's house, pick him up, and take him to the library today. I will buy him McDonald's. We will be efficient and get more done in a short time than we would otherwise.

Maybe it was the 2:45 am IEP Meeting invitation emails I sent to participants on Wednesday and Thursday, as part of the process for conducting meetings for the few students remaining on my caseload for whom I haven't conducted their Annual IEP's -- I don't know -- but it seems that more than a few interpreted these asynchronous emails, which rung on team member smartphones, jarring a few awake, as a cry for help, which was not my intention. As a closet type A squared personality, I have always conducted certain types of business at off-peak times, particularly when it comes to managing a calendar, which is something for which I need to do totally undisturbed by more pressing matters, because it is something I don't like to do. All I was doing was clearing items off my task list. For me, 3 am working times have always been normal.

With 7 weeks of Remediation Time starting next week, time to thin the herd, to separate the got it group, from the getting it, and the likely not to get it group. Time to pull out the 80 - 20 principle and focus on the 20 percent for whom I will get 80 percent of my results.

Fortunately, after Dr. P came to make a surprise inspection of my 4th period class, probably as a result of all the red flags I was sending, some of the students were getting it, and his major suggestion was that I take away the pencil sharpening responsibilities from students, a source of interruption, and keep a supply of sharpened pencils always at hand. I like Dr. P, because he believes in keeping it simple and focusing on outcomes.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Norman Kurland Interview by Harold Channer

My dad, Norman Kurland, in this interview explains the evolution of his views on his economic and social justice, from his experiences with Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi, as students did the impossible and changed the course of history, through the War on Poverty, and forward.

The old paradigm is not working

Before I get down to the business of writing Kendall's IEP goals for math, I came across an article in the Washington Post which describes a fundamental flaw in our society which may be at the root of Kendall's utter disengagement from the micro society of a self-contained 6th grade classroom, explain why he refuses to wear a belt and lets his pants hang 7" below his waist, and gets to the root of why he sees no future in education. Too often, I have heard teachers parrot the 20th century belief that the purpose of education is to prepare students for the workplace. The reality, unfortunately, is that even highly educated students from great universities are beginning to realize that a college education is increasingly not an admission ticket to "adult employment," but rather a place to learn skills that have become obsolete before they ever finish the program.

With Ray Kurzweill rapidly teaching Google how to teach robots how to learn, the economic transformation predicted by Louis Kelso in the 1950's has accelerated. With tax day, April 15th, will come yet another "March on the Federal Reserve" by my father's friends, giving speeches, wearing Abraham Lincoln costumes. My question is, and has been for a while, is anybody listening?

30 days to figure it out

I've posted a link to a Google Plus post I shared about a friend who is having a problem with a gaming addiction.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Craig's List Band

Last night, my wife's friend from 3rd grade, Wendy, invited us to watch her husband Dave's new band perform. About 20 friends and family gathered in their basement to witness the band's first ever live set.

Dave's last band was called Divide by Zero, and as we were in the kitchen readying to leave the party, Karen inquired, "What's the band's name."

Wendy replied that the band was asking for suggestions.

Karen suggested "Screwdriver," since Ron, the guitarist, who also plays lead guitar for another band that plays all original music, who had been looking for a cover band like Dave's, that plays a variety of music, had been looking for a screwdriver. I suggested "Poetic License." Wendy jotted down our ideas.

Karen wondered, "How did the band come together?"

"Craig's List," Wendy replied.

"How about Craig's List Band, CLB?" I joked. We all laughed.

My day began with haircuts for Joe and I at the Lyon Village Barber Shop in Arlington, where I learned that Joe was trying to be "hooked up" with a girl by a friend and baseball teammate. Joe also revealed to Hung, his childhood barber, that he wanted to have 3-4 children, to not have an only child.

Later, I paid my final respects to someone who had left the world far too soon. The stunned gathering of family, colleagues, and students were left wondering why, wondering what signs we had missed, wondering what else could we have done? I channeled my energies using Tony Robbins' re-framing strategies, and spent the rest of my Saturday reflecting on everything and everyone for which I was thankful, doing the gratitude walk, noticing all of my blessings with ever step, being a little more kind to my dog, my son Joe, my wife Karen, and everyone I ran into on the street.

Normally not a person to start a conversation on my personal time -- I prefer to keep my mouth closed, to keep moving on, although I find myself drawn into conversations all the time -- yesterday I did something unusual and called my brother Mike. Mike was riding his motorcycle along the twisting Loudoun County Byway, Elk Run Road. Having read a report in the Washington Post that IBM had laid off 12,000 workers the other day, I was genuinely concerned. Mike explained that IBM was simply changing its business model because it had lost money for the past 8 quarters. He was, in fact, getting getting ready to work on a project in France, where he will be staying a few extra days riding around France on a rented motorcycle. He will send me a link to an app so that I can track his movements.

Today, I'll need a little help from the snow to keep ahead of the gathering storm. 8 to 12 inches are forecasted. To do: grades, IEP's, lesson plans, and drive to Kinkos to make State Test Prep packages since we ran out of paper at our school on Friday. So much can go so wrong so quickly in education, and sometimes everything starts spiraling out of control after the copier runs out of paper -- a Butterfly Effect?

Somehow I feel the eyes of March watching me. I sense that others, including Dr. P, are somehow comforted by my renegade it's all a game attitude. Maybe that's why my daily trespasses are forgiven, as trespasses are less and less likely to be forgiven in education, thanks to an accountability movement that has become cancerous. As certain teachers prepare to teach to the rule, I'll continue breaking the rules because lives are at stake, because all the rules are all broken anyway, while people in education continue to see the world through a 20th century production line mindset. Meanwhile, the countdown to the Singularity presses on relentlessly, with the "velocity of change" proceeding, as was written at the dawn of the 20th century, in Middle Town, leaving everybody numb, some taking desperate measures, and others simply giving way because they just can't take it anymore.

I wonder about The Wheel of Time series, Jim had been so fascinated with? We shared so many interests, including a love of books. Had I known, maybe I could have been a better friend and shown a little more interest. Maybe I could have invited Jim to watch a group of friends who came together randomly to form a band, a Craig's List Band. That might have made a difference, but it's too late for Jim. Live moves on.