Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Can Someone Please Explain TMZ To Me

Can someone please explain TMZ to me. Celebrity gossip??? Once again this critical thinker is confused in terms of why do we care? Why are major news networks such as Fox entertaining this crap as a part of their newscasts? The director/producer, spokesperson or whatever he calls himself of TMZ is in my opinion nauseating. Maybe someone who is a reader of this blog can help me out. I did say "In my opinion." As always I welcome yours.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Why The Little Drummer Boy Is My Favorite Christmas Song/Cartoon

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

So to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
When we come.

Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That's fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum?

Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum.

As a child I would watch the little drummer boy and before the end of the cartoon I would be in tears. To this day when I hear the song I struggle not to well up. This happens to me because of the deeper message within the little parable. If you look into the story, you see that everyone has something to give to the baby Jesus except the little drummer boy. As the story progresses he actually becomes distraught because he in his mind, did not have anything to give. He did not realize that the very thing he had to give was the most important gift of all; his talent which was an extension of himself.

I hate to see everyone in the crowd having something except one. It's the one who is going without or does not have that gets to me. In this story the little drummer boy did not have anything material to give while everyone else did. What he had to give was from the spiritual realm which is often seen as less important than the material possessions. Interestingly enough, as you follow the story you see that Jesus smiles at the little drummer boy when he is finished playing his fine drum solo. This suggests that his gift was just as appreciated if not more as the gold or myrrh given by the wise men.

The little drummer boy's gift was accepted because it was from the heart. It was not for form or fashion; it was not for show. In many instances it's not what is given, it is the spirit in which it is given. The little drummer boy gave in the right spirit. It is because of this that The Little Drummer Boy is my favorite Christmas song/cartoon.

Moving Beyond the Sound Bite

Interestingly enough, some readers question the tagline of my blog "For Those Who Choose to Move Beyond The Sound Bite." I'm often asked, what do I mean by that?

Moving beyond the sound bite is one's ability to gather information; triangulate it; and make an informed decision compared with what far too many of us do which is to take tiny snippets of information fed to us by the 4:00, 5:00, 6:00, 7:00, 10:00, and 11:00 news. Moving beyond the sound bite is giving some real thought to what is being said or reported and asking questions such as, does that make sense? Could it really have happened that way? Is there another way that it could have happened? Is this even true? Sound bites don't really allow one to do that. It seems we are so eager to readily accept anything the media feeds to us without question. We busily go along our way accepting what is reported as the gospel without any further investigation.

This is one of the major issues conspiracy theorists have with the general mass of the population. To this day the Zapruder film of the Kennedy Assassination is dismissed because we are so ready to believe that a crazed lone gunman was able to assassinate a U.S. President with all of the secret service security agents around. That's what was told to us; that's what we believed and in many instances still believe. The same thing applies for the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A crazed lone gunman killed him as well. No questions. That's what Walter Cronkite said, so it must be true. This is not to say that it is not true, the point is we are not willing to conduct any further research to verify if it is true or not. Is it possible there was more than one shot fired on both those fateful days in November of 1963 and April of 1968? Could they both have been conspiracies? Maybe. Maybe not. The question is are we willing to move beyond the sound bites that are fed to us? These are just two prime examples of Americans believing what the government and the media would have us believe without question. How about 9/11? The War on Iraq? The Health Care Bill?

Moving beyond the sound bite is just a matter of us critically thinking about issues and not just so easily accepting everything we are told. It requires research, reading, thinking and then formulating an opinion for ourselves. It is for this reason, I selected "For those who choose to move beyond the sound bite" as my tagline.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tiger Sunk by Kitty

This critical thinker cannot even begin to address all of the racial and sexual psychological issues that went on with Tiger Woods. So I'll leave it at once again the "kitty" ruled. (see September 12, 2009 Post 8 Reasons CBS's "THE GOOD WIFE" will be Successful http://thereadingcircleblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/8-reasons-cbss-good-wife-will-be.html)

Let's all pray for Tiger and his family.

Another Sign of The Times

NFL PLAY 60 is the NFL Movement for an Active and Healthy Generation, encouraging kids to play for 60 minutes every day in order to tackle childhood obesity. Through in-school, afterschool and team-based programs and partnerships with like-minded organizations, the NFL wants fans to Join the NFL PLAY 60 Movement. PLAY 60 appears throughout NFLRUSH.com, the NFL’s official website for kids, so kids can do what they love – play games and follow their favorite NFL teams – while being reminded to get active everyday!

This critical thinker thinks this is an excellent program; however, it begs the question, isn’t it a shame that we have to have a program to get children to PLAY? Think about that. When I was a child, we didn’t need a program that its sole objective was to get us up off of the couch. One would think that there would be a natural connection between children and play. This submission is not to criticize or belittle the NFL PLAY 60 program, because as I said I commend them for seeing a need and making an attempt to fill it. The question is why is this a need that needs to be filled? Where have we arrived to when children no longer run around playing baseball; football; jumping Double Dutch; playing Freeze Tag; Mother May I?; Hide and Seek; Hot Peas and Butter; Hopscotch; Tag; and the list goes on and on.

It’s interesting that when my children were little I kept hearing parents talking about “play dates,” and I always wondered what the heck is a play date because again, when I was a child, “play dates” did not exist. You went outside; met up with your friends, and you played; very simple. We played baseball and football in a vacant lot across the street from my house for hours on end and we didn’t need a program such as NFL PLAY 60 or any other program for that matter in order for us to do this. We even named the vacant lot that was filled with rocks and glass, "Rocky Stadium.” We held Thanksgiving and Christmas football games and hollered out “Rusty Staub” as we hit a ball over the trees. We did this because we were kids and we loved to play. We ran up and down the street playing Tag and Hide-and-go-Seek until the street lights came on and everyone had to go into the house. We rode our bicycles to surrounding communities such as Clifton, Passaic, and Hackensack. We did what kids normally do………….play.

I remember going to a day camp during the summer and returning home at 5:00 p.m. to all of my friends who did not go to camp on the street playing baseball and wanting to immediately join them and my mother telling me to come in the house and rest before going back out to play. REST!!!! At 12? What was rest? I didn’t know the meaning of the word rest or tired at 12 and in 2009 we have to have an organized and sponsored program to get kids to get up off of their duffs to go out and play. Something is wrong. The reason our obesity rate is so high amongst children is because we are raising a bunch of lazy kids. We as parents, not just the NFL have to make our children get up and move away from the television, computer, and Playstation to engage in physical activity. Ride those bicycles; try out for that team; run and play in the park. When you think about it, it’s amazing, isn’t it? Children who have to be encouraged to play……… This is the Critical Thinker signing off once more hopefully leaving you with something that will make you go hmmmmmmm.

Friday, November 27, 2009

When is this madness going to end? How long can we keep hearing about Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt? Who cares? This critical thinker is advocating for a boycott of any magazine, newspaper or book that is sickeningly keeping ths saga going. It seems as if every time one walks into a convenience store, pharmacy or food store, it is the same old headline. How long can anyone care whether or not Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston reunite or not? Are we that weak minded a society? Critically think about that. Enough is enough of Brad and Jen.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

In All Seriousness; How Crazy Are You?

It makes you wonder just how crazy these "so called" crazy people are. The people I am referring to are these folks who seem be crazy at the time they are killing someone else, yet appear to become awfully sane when it is their own life that is on the line. I was perusing the news the other day and I came across a story about the D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammad, who galvanized the Washington/Maryland area for a period of time in 2002, killing people randomly at will; now he is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on November 10 and his defense team is pleading that he had been diagnosed with severe mental illness, and struggled with severe psychiatric disorders. The critical thinker question of course in my mind is, if one is that mentally ill or suffering from that severe a psychiatric disorder, why didn’t he turn the gun on himself, opposed to killing 10 people who had absolutely nothing to do with him. More importantly, now that Mr. Muhammad is facing death, he seems to have sense enough to fight to stay alive.

Mr. Muhammad interestingly enough does not differ much from any of these “so called” crazy people who take the lives of others and then when it is determined that they must die for their crimes fight like hell to stay alive. The sad part of the story is the people who were killed did not get this same opportunity to fight to stay alive. They did not have someone pleading for them to be kept alive; they were just innocent victims of a random act of violence supposedly perpetrated by a “so called” crazy or mentally ill person. It’s amazing how these crazy people always have to take either someone else out or someone else along with them rather than just taking themselves out. The pattern seems to be that I am disgruntled or miserable therefore rather than just end my misery; I have to take the life or lives of people who have nothing to do with me or my misery.

I am not an advocate for the death penalty; however, I would have no problem with taking these folks to an island far far away and dropping them there with absolutely nothing other than a “fare thee well.” The remaining time they had on the earth would be left to God. Take a look at the recent mass shooting cases and note that it is rare the shooter takes him or her self out. They seem to be sane enough to keep themselves alive and will even fight to stay alive when the death penalty is levied. Their attorneys request stay after stay after stay. I don’t think the attorneys are doing this without some sort of guidance from their clients. Again, the question becomes, how crazy are they? (the clients....and maybe their lawyers too)

The most recent shooting took place at Ft. Hood, an army military base in Texas, where a soldier began blasting other soldiers away. While he was shot in the melee, it was not as if he turned his gun on himself and even if he did, why take the others out too? Again, if you are that miserable, why not rid the world of just you and let other people who have nothing to do with you alone?

So at this writing, this critical thinker must ask the question, how crazy can these individuals be when they can take the life of someone else and then fight like hell to save their own? That just doesn’t seem crazy to me; in fact it seems rather sane to want to live just as I am sure the victims of these “so called” crazy people wanted to live.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

8 Reasons CBS's "THE GOOD WIFE" will be Successful

(1) Assemblyman Mike Duvall
(2) Governor Elliott Spitzer
(3) Governor Mark Sanford
(4) Senator John Edwards
(5) Congressman Vito Fossella
(6) Governor Jim McGreevey
(7) President Bill Clinton
(8) Rev. Jessie Jackson


Satirically Sad! What amazes me is that we obviously don't benefit from the mistakes and consequences of those before us.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Pinnacle of Ridiculousness Topped Again!!

If this isn't the pinnacle of ridiculousness, then I don't know what is. As if the "Madoff Mess" was not bad enough; this woman is now strutting around as proud as a peacock granting television interviews about being his mistress. No shame in her game. Every time I think the pinnacle of ridiculousness has been reached, someone comes along and tops it. I have to ask the critical thinker question again; Why do we care? or Why are we supposed to care? While I am an avid reader and I don't in general wish any ill will on anyone, in this case I truly hope that Weinstein's book about her affair with Madoff sells about the same number of copies as Bernie has "inches" (or lack thereof) according to her. Absolutely ridiculous! Critical Thinkers of the world unite.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who Really Let The Dogs Out?

My pastor Rev. Kenneth D.R. Clayton, pastor of The St. Luke Baptist Church, deserves the credit for this critical thinker moment concerning Michael Vick.

We are both in total agreement that Michael Vick was wrong; however, based on the outcry from "outraged" >(oh how I hate that tired overused news report word - see http://thereadingcircleblog.blogspot.com/2008/03/burned-up-with-overuse-of-word-outrage.html) Americans at the thought of Michael Vick receiving forgiveness or a second chance at his career after breeding dogs for fighting, begs the question how come this same type of outrage (there goes that word again) and outcry was not heard in 1963 when in Birmingham, Alabama dogs were bred to maim and kill people? Hmmmmmmmmmmm!! Something to critically think about.

Thank you for this critical thinker moment Rev. Clayton.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Those Who Are In The Know, Know that Television is Not The Way To Go

“If you are not a millionaire, you need to turn the television off.” This is a quote by Arthur J. Johnson II, author of Ignite The Fire Within. Mr. Johnson made this statement when I was interviewing him on my radio show THE READING CIRCLE w/Marc Medley on WP88.7 FM. We were talking about the importance of reading and the time spent on this activity compared with the time spent for most people watching television. After our conversation, my mind went back to Dr. Ben Carson’s mother who purposefully and intentionally limited Ben and his brother’s television to a very small amount of time (if any) per week while requiring two book reports per week from each child. I was also reminded of Michelle Obama, whose mother also limited the amount of time Michelle could watch television as a child and encouraged her to read and study instead. Television watching is a passive activity. In other words it takes no thought or energy to engage in. Studying and reading on the other hand, requires active involvement by many of your mental faculties. The brain like any other muscle in the body requires exercise. Watching television is not a work-out regimen for the brain; in fact it doesn’t even encourage a work-out regimen for the body as usually one is sitting on the couch when partaking in this so called "delight."

When I was a child, I would always hear my father call the T.V. an “idiot box,” and would wonder why. As an adult, I truly can appreciate what he was referring to. I watch children and in many instances adults alike get into a stupor when the T.V. is on. I have seen children who cannot function when they are in the grips of a meaningless television show. Peeping in on some of these shows, I even question what could have been going through the writers; editors; producers; and directors’ minds when they put these shows together. Many are just glorified advertisements to lure children into pestering their parents into purchasing the latest character or toy. I must admit I had to laugh at some of the lines as they really were lines that had double meanings intended for adults even though it was in a children’s cartoon or program.

Studies show that the average American child spends 500 more hours in front of the TV than they do in school and the television is on 7 hours a day on average in North American households. Studies also show that 85% of North American households did not buy one non-fiction book in the period of a year and 90% of those who did buy them, did not read them. Sad commentary

Truly high achievers do not have time to sit in front of what author/philosopher James Arthur Ray calls the plug in-drug. That’s what Mr. Johnson meant when he said, if you are not a millionaire, you need to turn the television off. I usually tell people that I am always in the midst of reading 15 to 20 books at one time and they look at me like I have three heads and ask, “How do you do that?” My response is the same way you sit down and watch multiple 30 and 60 minute television programs, I read one book for 30 minutes; put it down and read another for 30 minutes; put it down and read another for 30 minutes; and so on and so on and so on. It is a matter of choice. Actively engage your mind to be productive or sit passively and be influenced by the junk that is now put forth on television--Garbage In-Garbage Out (GIGO). If my father thought it was an idiot box in the 60’s and 70’s, I don’t think he would have words to describe it now. I don’t subscribe to cable (never have) and the programming that is left on regular (digital) T.V. is horrid. What’s even worse is the programming on “pay” T.V. (cable) is just as bad or worse and we pay for it!!!

The other way I get through so many books is by always keeping books with me at all times. In the car; on an appointment; near my bed; in the bathroom; near my computer; and so on and so on and so on. It can be done. Again it is a matter of choice and this critical thinker leaves you with ALL leaders are great readers. Join this critical thinker in becoming a leader. Those who are in the know, know that the television is not the way to go.

P.S. Audio books will qualify to a degree.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Are We Ever Going To Learn?

Okay folks, short, sweet, and to the point. Are we ever going to learn that:

Alcohol + Driving = Death
Drugs + Driving = Death
Alcohol + Drugs + Driving = Death
Texting + Driving = Death

How many organizations against drunk driving is it going to take? The Taconic State Parkway tragedy was a true tragedy on so many levels. This critical thinker advises all of us to pray for traveling grace and mercy before hitting the road. It was always a practice of my family when I was a child to pray prior to going on long trips; I carried this same practice into my own family prior to going on long trips and one day when my youngest daughter Niara was very little, she asked the question, "Daddy, how come we don't pray every time we get ready to leave in the car?" Out of the mouths of babes. With all the distractions (cell phones, GPS's, text messaging, drinking, sleep deprivation, etc. etc.) going on behind the wheel, I have to agree with Niara (now 14). We had better pray for safe travel every time we sit behind the wheel of a car (not to mention air, train, and sea travel) as we head off to our destinations. I constantly ask God to help me watch out for the other man and for the other man to watch out for me. I ask that the equipment perform in the manner that it was designed to perform and that I arrive safely to and from my destination. Last year we lost Rev. Timothy Wright and his family to a head on collision and there have been countless other lives lost due to drinking and driving, drugging and driving and texting and driving. How many lives will it take before we finally get the message?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Privacy.......What is That??????

My heart goes out to Erin Andrews, the ESPN sportscaster whose privacy was grossly violated by some lowlife who thought it would be fun to video tape her in the privacy of her hotel room. Having been one who has had his privacy violated (not in that manner) but violated nonetheless and has a major pet peeve about crimes of this nature; I can only imagine how horrified and violated she must feel. I rarely watch the news and stories like this one are the reason why. To add insult to injury the reporter had the audacity to say that he was not sure that anything illegal actually occurred or if a crime had been committed. He went on to say that spy ware and spy paraphernalia sales are up. Look out folks!!! Big Brother and Big Sister are watching for kicks! No place is sacred or "PRIVATE."

According to USLegal.com, Invasion of privacy is defined as follows:

Invasion of privacy is the intrusion into the personal life of another, without just cause, which can give the person whose privacy has been invaded a right to bring a lawsuit for damages against the person or entity that intruded. It encompasses workplace monitoring, Internet privacy, data collection, and other means of disseminating private information.

Celebrities are not protected in most situations, since they have voluntarily placed themselves already within the public eye, and their activities are considered newsworthy. However, an otherwise non-public individual has a right to privacy from: a) intrusion on one's solitude or into one's private affairs; b) public disclosure of embarrassing private information; c) publicity which puts him/her in a false light to the public; d) appropriation of one's name or picture for personal or commercial advantage.

The Supreme Court has ruled that there is a limited constitutional right of privacy based on a number of provisions in the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments. This includes a right to privacy from government surveillance into an area where a person has a "reasonable expectation of privacy" and also in matters relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing and education. However, records held by third parties such as financial records or telephone calling records are generally not protected unless a specific federal law applies. The court has also recognized a right of anonymity and the right of groups to not have to disclose their members' names to government agencies.

The criminal voyeurism statute of some states cover "a place where [one] would have a reasonable expectation of privacy", meaning:

i.A place where a reasonable person would believe that he or she could disrobe in privacy, without being concerned that his or her undressing was being photographed or filmed by another; or
ii.A place where one may reasonably expect to be safe from casual or hostile intrusion or surveillance.
Given the similarity to voyeurism, a jury might find that placing a hidden camera in a certain location may amount to the torts of outrage or negligent infliction of emotional distress.

When cell phones with cameras were introduced, I was vehemently against the concept. Now in retrospect and in the grand scheme of things, the camera/cell phone is just a drop in the bucket compared to what is available to intrude into someone else's life now.

The question is why do we care so much about what "other people" are doing, particularly when it does not have an impact on our lives? That's why I personally don't understand why for what seems like an eternity that we have to keep hearing about Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. (Okay that's another BLOG). But think about it, you may not be able to ever be comfortable in your hotel room, public bathroom or for that matter in some instances your own home because of the misuse and abuse of technology by our sick brothers and sisters. Voyeurism has been kicked up to the umpteenth power with the technology that is available and is being developed. All this critical thinker can say is, it is a sad shame that one cannot walk around in his/her hotel room and other places and feel comfortable. Look what we have become. According to the story anyone looking to link to the Erin Andrews footage downloads a virus to their computer. This is one time I hope something like that is true. Wouldn't it be great if every time someone was committing a crime they would be zapped? Until the next edition.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I Second That Emotion!

In the words of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, "I Second That Emotion!" If you want to know the emotion that I am seconding, please read Bill Cosby's words below.

'They're standing on the corner and they can't speak English.
I can't even talk the way these people talk:

Why you ain't,
Where you is,
What he drive,
Where he stay,
Where he work,
Who you be...

And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk.
And then I heard the father talk.

Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth
In fact you will never get any kind of job making a decent living.

People marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an Education, and now we've got these knuckleheads walking around.

The lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal.
These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids.
$500 sneakers for what? And they won't spend $200 for Hooked on Phonics.

I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit.

Where were you when he was 2?

Where were you when he was 12?

Where were you when he was 18 and how come you didn't know that he had a pistol?

And where is the father? Or who is his father?

People putting their clothes on backward:
Isn't that a sign of something gone wrong?

People with their hats on backward, pants down around the crack, isn't that a sign of something?

Isn't it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up and got all type of needles [piercing] going through her body?

What part of Africa did this come from??

We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans; they don't know a thing about Africa .....

I say this all of the time. It would be like white people saying they are European-American. That is totally stupid.

I was born here, and so were my parents and grand parents and, very likely my great grandparents. I don't have any connection to Africa, no more than white Americans have to Germany , Scotland, England, Ireland, or the Netherlands . The same applies to 99 percent of all the black Americans as regards to Africa . So stop, already! ! !

With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap ......... and all of them are in jail.

Brown or black versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person's problem.

We have got to take the neighborhood back.

People used to be ashamed. Today a woman has eight children with eight different 'husbands' -- or men or whatever you call them now.

We have millionaire football players who cannot read.

We have million-dollar basketball players who can't write two paragraphs. We, as black folks have to do a better job.

Someone working at Wal-Mart with seven kids, you are hurting us.

We have to start holding each other to a higher standard..

We cannot blame the white people any longer.'

Dr.. William Henry 'Bill' Cosby, Jr., Ed..D.

Friday, June 26, 2009

President Obama - You Must Re-look at The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Excerpted from THE PRICE OF LOYALTY; George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill by Ron Suskind. "I wondered, from the first if the President didn't know the questions to ask," O'Neill recalled, "or did he know and just not want to know the answers? Or did his strategy somehow involve never showing what he thought? But you can ask questions, gather information, and not necessarily show your hand. It was strange." "No Child Left Behind, I like that, " O'Neill said, "but the idea that really moves us forward--a real action plan--is One Child at a Time." It was an idea he'd road-tested with educators for years--that we need "an individualized mandate, where children would be constantly assessed, one child at a time, in order to help create a little strategic plan for each student," a personalized learning strategy to fill gaps and develop latent potential. "It's a rethinking of what's possible, Mr. President. There's nothing more important than nurturing our human potential as a nation--our future depends on it." Bush shifted in the wing-back chair. "Right, that's the concept of disaggregation"--a term used by educational statisticians to break down test scores--"I have that covered." O'Neill wondered if he should point out that the President might be misusing that term but thought again. Richard Perle, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, commented publicly, "The first time I met Bush 43, I knew he was different. Two things became clear. One, he didn't know very much. The other was he had the confidence to ask questions that revealed he didn't know very much." It is clear to this critical thinker that George W. Bush did not know what he was doing when he proposed The No Child Left Behind Act. "That's the concept of disaggregation." Oh yeah, he had that covered alright!!!

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001(NCLB)is a United States Act of Congress that was originally proposed by President George W. Bush immediately after taking office; given the excerpts from THE PRICE OF LOYALTY, red flags go up for this critical thinker and makes me believe that NCLB needs a thorough review and reconsideration. There has to be a better way to get our children educated while at the same time holding teachers and administrators accountable.

According to www.ed.gov/nclb(ED.Gov) a state's definition of Adequate Yearly Progress(AYP) is based on expectations for growth in student achievement that is continuous and substantial, such that all students are proficient in reading and math no later than 2013-2014. Accountability systems must establish proficiency goals statewide, based on assessment data from the 2001-02 school year, that progressively increase to reflect 100 percent proficiency for all students by 2013-14. Another red flag. When do we get 100% of anything, let alone all of the various sub-groups that the government/states have segmented the population of students into. 100% is a nice target, but unrealistic; especially in light of sub-grouping(race,students with disabilites, limited english proficiency,etc.).

I heard a commentary on the radio the other day where the commentator said that "We are no longer schools; we are a cross between a test prep center and a baby sitting center." This critical thinker agrees. It is for these reasons that President Obama and his team must re-look at NCLB. In its present form, it is doing more harm than good to our students and the field of education. I will always say, give me a book(See Spot Run), a good teacher, and a student who is willing to learn and the education process will take place. If any of these three things are not in place, you will not be successful in the education process. I have seen students in private schools (who don't have certified teachers, mind you) achieve much more academically and they are not placed in an assessment crazed environment. The teachers (who are not certified mind you) carry out their curriculum (BEKA) or whatever and the children learn. What is it that they have that we in the public schools do not have? (Could it be parents who value education at home?..... that's another BLOG entry)

Take a look at any state NCLB scores and you determine for yourself if it is working. President Obama, please take another look at NCLB.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

It's Only A Game Folks!

James went on to say that it was hard for him to congratulate somebody after he just lost to them. I’m a winner. It’s not being a poor sport or anything like that. If somebody beats you up, you’re not going to congratulate them. That doesn’t make sense to me. I’m a competitor. That’s what I do. It doesn’t make sense for me to go over and shake somebody’s hand.

After hearing about this nonsense from Lebron James my mind immediately went back to a conversation I had with my father as a child. I remember vividly him commenting on professional sports in general concerning the attitudes and salaries of professional athletes; he said if all the professional sports in the world stopped or did not exist today, the world would still go on. The world could still function and indeed the sports and the athletes would be forgotten. In other words in the grand scheme of things, baseball, basketball, football, hockey, tennis, etc. etc. really does not impact the world to the extent that it impacts life to that great of a degree. It's not like the world would be if we no longer had doctors, or teachers, or preachers, or electricity, or water or anything else that is life giving or life sustaining. In his view the world could survive without professional athletes. Ah, the wisdom of James Allen Medley; he said this in the 70' and passed away in 1985, so I can only imagine what his thoughts would have been had he lived to see the ridiculousness that we see coming from our athletes today. Plexico Burress, Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemons, Lebron James, and the list goes on and on and on. (Did I mention the outrageous salaries paid in many cases before the player even bounces, runs or hits a ball......performance based would make more sense, don't you think?)

For the amount of money these people make for playing virtually a child's game, you would think the behavior and character would match. If I made that type of money for playing a game, you would not have to worry about me doing anything stupid or illegal. Regardless of Charles Barkley's view on athletes not being role models; the fact of the matter is that they are watched by millions and too many non-critically thinking people do model their behavior, both children and adults alike. So now we will have children who will feel that because they are angry at the fact that they lost that they don't need to congratulate the team who was the best on that particular day. Lebron did it, so I can do it too. Thanks Lebron!

I didn't quite understand what my father was talking about then; I was only a child who loved the Yankees and Steelers; but after watching these guys and gals and their behavior, I sure do understand now. This blog is in memory of James Allen Medley April 14, 1936 - April 7, 1985

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Hats Off to The Three U.S. Navy Seal Sharp Shooters

I take my hat off to the three U.S. Navy Seal sharp shooters who were able to execute flawlessly under pressure and adverse conditions. Their years of training truly paid off and was evident in their ability to complete their mission of rescuing the hostage of the pirates. Sometimes you just "gotta do what you gotta do." While the pirates are talking about seeking retaliation, they need to have a better understanding of Matthew 26:52 where Jesus says "Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." I say again, job well done by the Navy Seals.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bessie Coleman is Smiling and So Am I

Bessie Coleman has to be smiling as history was made as a domestic US flight was staffed for the first time by an all female African American flight crew. Captain Rachelle Jones, First Officer Stephanie Grant, and flight attendants Diana Galloway and Robin Rogers flew into history as they commanded Atlantic Southeast Airlines flight 5202 in February of 2009. As an African American; aviation enthusiast; and former New Jersey Air National Guard Jet Engine Mechanic (108th TFW/ARW) my heartfelt congratulations goes out to these four history making women. Just as we have seen with the election of President Barack Obama, there are truly no more excuses for African Americans in terms of what they can or cannot achieve. Rachelle, Stephanie, Diana and Robin.....You Go Girls!!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What's Up With All of These Skulls?

Does anyone else see a connection between our societal condition and the depictions we wear on our clothing? As a principal in an urban school, just about every other child is coming to school dressed in apparel sporting some type of skull. It will be on their shirts, hats and sometimes even their pants/slacks. As I ride through the downtown areas of urban cities such as Paterson, Passaic, and Newark, NJ, I notice that many of the clothing stores have nothing but clothing with skulls on them displayed in the window. If you were to go to the corners of Van Houten and Main streets in Paterson, NJ all you would see are skulls. This begs me to question, have our young and old given up on LIFE? To my knowledge, a skull has always represented death and destruction. It was at one time even affixed upon poisons to let you know of the lethal nature of the liquid or powder contained within. Can someone please help this critical thinker with the fascination with skulls. Have we become that satanic? What is the message we are trying to send when we wear this sort of clothing. T-shirts and caps are a form of advertising, so the question becomes are we that big of an advocate for death vs. life. Think about it.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Oliver Stone Has Done It Again with "W"

Oliver Stone has done it again with "W". Like with his movie JFK about President John F. Kennedy and his ultimate assasination, Stone confirms in "W" what many of us thought and believed about George W. Bush. Many of the scenes can be corroborated in Scott McClellan's book What Happened.

If you have not seen "W," I highly recommend seeing it. If you have seen "W," please post your thoughts about the movie in the comment section of this blog. Looking forward to reading your thoughts.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

“Well, it was fine with me, 'cause you don't want to be black, you don't have to be.” - Nikki Giovanni

The other night I was watching Nikki Giovanni being interviewed by Bill Moyers of Bill Moyers Journal. She was actually being interviewed about her new book Bicycles, and during the interview many topics came up. The two quotes below were made by Ms. Giovanni during the course of the interview that certainly made me think and I hope they will make you think as well. I’d love to hear your thoughts on her comments below. Feel free to comment.

“Martin Luther King, Jr. was about justice for the world. Martin would be happy, I'm sure. And, I don't want to speak for Martin, I don't want you to misunderstand. But he would be happy that the United States had elected a fine young man. But he would still weep for the genocide that we're finding all over Africa. He would weep for the children dying of malaria. He wanted a just earth. His vision was way beyond an American president.” Nikki Giovanni

“We have to recognize that when we look at a Barack Obama, we are looking at a man of color. If we just go back even ten years, when we looked at Tiger Woods, maybe 15, I forget how long Tiger Woods has been around, I remember Tiger Woods having that discussion, "I'm not really black." Well, it was fine with me, 'cause you don't want to be black, you don't have to be. Nikki Giovanni

Saturday, February 21, 2009

"What Did He Score on His State Assessment Test?

During today's edition of THE READING CIRCLE w/Marc Medley, I had a wonderful interview with School Administrator; Author; Hospice Volunteer; Advocate and Activist, Frances Shani Parker. Ms. Parker's latest book is Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes.

Both of us being school principals in urban school areas, she in Detroit, Michigan and I in Paterson, New Jersey, of course began talking about the current state of affairs of education today. Ms. Parker brought up a satirical analogy that said it best; she said "Johnny could be driving his car down the street with his mother in the trunk murdered by him, and when he is caught we would ask what did he score on his state assessment test." I laughed heartily at her comment and at the same time was saddened because of just how accurate her statement really was. I agreed with her 1000%.

As an educator, I constantly see children who are confronting so many issues in their young lives, that the last thing they can focus on is if two plus two equals four or if their sentence structure is correct. Many of these children have seen more sex, drugs and death by ten years old than I have seen in my entire forty plus years on earth. They come to school hungry, sleepy, and unkempt passing drug dealers, gunfire and prostitutes along their way and we are still driving ourselves crazy over the state assessment test score.
We must really wake up and understand that these children are never going to score well on these tests until the other variables are addressed with as much vigor as we attempt to address the accountability variable. We have taken away the arts and social sciences that help to make a well rounded person in an effort to increase his or her ability to read and count. On the surface and on paper this move makes sense, but the fact of the matter is, we have taken away the home economic; wood shop; print shop; music; and art courses and the children are still not reading or counting any better. In fact, according to our state assessment test scores, they have become worse. Why? Because the social issues have increased.
For education to function properly, the parent, the child, and the teacher must all work to achieve success. If any one of these players are missing, the chance of achieving the greatest success begins to wane. Parents cannot expect the schools to do everything and the government and school districts cannot expect teachers to fulfill the role of policeman, counselor, parent, preacher, social worker, food and clothing provider (the list of hats educators are expected to wear keep growing everyday) disciplinarian and obtain adequate yearly progress (AYP).
We will need to be realistic and creatively teach in ways that meet the children where they are. When having this discussion with a staff member, she said then "I might as well say to Hell with the book," and my response to her was yes, say to Hell with the book if that is what is necessary to get your students to learn. I've written in a previous Critical Thinker that we have gone through several ages (agricultural, industrial, machine, technological, information) and we are still operating in the educational arena like we did in the agricultural age.
The combination of the social issues many of these students experience and the pressures placed on educators to achieve high standardized test scores is in my opinion killing the educational process. We must come up with something (and I am not talking about some program that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars purchased by school districts that only make the book or publishing companies richer) that will address both the social and educational issues these children so badly need. Maybe that something is just plain old fashioned LOVE and COMPASSION and not so much a test score. I would be willing to bet that if more love and compassion combined with some good old fashioned parenting were shown, we would begin to see our test scores go up. I am willing to bet that if we can get our children to love themselves and others, our test scores would go up, I am willing to bet that if we moved away from the same old lecture, textbook and blackboard approach that a child would not attempt to spell "Thurgood Marshall" with "3rdgood Marsher."
Oh for the beloved standardized state assessment score.........................

The Critical Thinker