Saturday, January 21, 2006

"Ain't It Awful Saturdays": Chapter 23 or so

Some blogs specialize in their area of authority — me, I just spout opinions. To paraphrase one of Thomas Merton’s poems, yes, thank you, I have an opinion for everything/Even though the nights are never dangerous. Heavens, I have opinions to burn. A blog I particularly like — and recommend, even if you have no children in school — is The Education Wonks.

I first met TEW when I joined The Watcher of Weasels Council last year. Their posts were usually short, succinct, and full of information I never saw anywhere else. Of course they don’t usually deal in jihadist issues, so I had no call to link to them on Gates, except when they won. But sometimes, win or lose, I’d comment anyway on a particularly hopeful or a shamefully egregious report the EW brought to our attention.

For example, back in June they did a brief expose of the shenanigans of the Las Vegas school administration. Those people work in splendor of a Las Vegas castle:

The fourth floor of the Clark County School District's new $14.5 million administrative building has features any executive would desire.

It has large offices, a dining room, [six] tiled showers, upscale furniture and decorations, and even remote-controlled curtains in one lounge area.

Superintendent Carlos Garcia allowed the news media to look inside the building for the first time Tuesday, and even he admitted the fourth floor of the four-story building was a potential public relations problem. But Garcia said it's an anomaly and that the purchase is justified.

"The fourth floor [with five showers] is a little bit controversial. It was designed for executive suites. I wish we didn't have the fourth floor, but it's here," Garcia said in the foyer of the 66,645-square-foot-building on Sahara Avenue between Edmond Street and Decatur Boulevard.
Of course, they took care of the children and teachers first, didn’t they? Those kids probably go to schools with marble halls and golden water fountains, right?

Dream on.
…many of Las Vegas's children attend classes in what some refer to as "portable" classrooms, and what others call "trailers."

Even though portables were designed for temporary use, in reality, they often become permanent fixtures at school sites around the country. At many campuses, (including the one where I teach) they have been in use for 20 years or more. Maintenance is often minimal, and many slowly deteriorate over the years. Most portables are small, and a visit to your local school will readily confirm that overcrowding is a serious problem.

Educrats like Garcia and countless others would do well to remember that they work for the parents, students, and taxpayers of their respective communities.

Garcia and his minions are ensconced in the lap of luxury while many of the community's children continue to be relegated (some might say condemned) to portable classrooms.

I think that a better administrative model would be for the administrators to work in portables, and for the students and teachers to be in the permanent buildings.
I’ve complained about ourschool system here, but never again. Our administrators are fiscally responsible and the children are well-housed in our schools. Not too long ago, the high school underwent major renovations and looks quite grand. The administration building is a modest affair across the street from the high school.

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But that’s not the only offense I’ve seen at Education Wonks. The one this past week took me by surprise. Do you know why you never hear the Martin Luther King speech all the way through — just a sentence here and there?

In "The Need to Share the Dream," the Wonks have a link to the WaPo story on the silence of Dr King on MLK Day — or any other day, for that matter:
All of King's speeches and papers are owned by his family, which has gone to court several times since the 1990s to protect its copyright; King obtained rights to his most famous speech a month after he gave it. Now, those who want to hear or use the speech in its entirety must buy a copy sanctioned by the King family, which receives the proceeds.
Some are of the opinion that the family was not left with much money and thus use this speech as a way to raise funds. I don’t find that angle credible at all, at least not now. Dr. King’s children are grown and one supposes they are making a living on their own. Meanwhile, the children most in need of hearing his speech are the least likely to do so:
Critics of the King family's decision not to put the speech in the public domain say the poorest children are the most deprived.

"The more elite the institution, the easier it is to pay the mandatory fee," said David J. Garrow, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and now a history professor at Cambridge University.

"So, to use a King phrase, 'the least of these,' I'll say that the least of these among schools and students are those who cannot afford the least access to his teachings," he said.
The decision to charge for a tape of this speech may have been a good one way back when. To continue to do so is just plain tacky. Sounds like they want it both ways: to have Dr. King in the American pantheon and to be paid for their efforts to place him there.

Beyond his human foibles, Dr. King had vision and he seized the opportunity to move things forward. Charging for his speech is just plain wrong.

The Education Wonks are one of the most interesting blogs around. Full of education and culture issues. Some of the features are heart-warming and positive, but for “Ain’t It Awful” Saturdays, they have enough material for years.


At 3:35 PM, Blogger Kirk Parker said...

In any decent copyright regemin, the speech would probably already have reverted to the public domain, anyway. Alas, we no longer have that, thanks mostly to the various Senators and Reps from Disney.

At 12:38 AM, Blogger A. Eteraz said...

on the whole i enjoyed your blog.

you should allow non-blogger people to comment though.

At 12:03 PM, Blogger Dymphna said...


On the whole I enjoyed your comment.

But how am I preventing people from commenting? If they don't want to register with blogger, they should still comment?

How, precisely? I'm a blogger, not a webpage designer.


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