NRA: “Guns Are More Important Than Children”

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I don’t understand the problem with the new gun legislation. I don’t understand the argument of “you can’t take my guns. If you ban certain kinds of guns you should ban cars too because cars kill people, too.” It’s idiotic thinking, it’s a flawed argument and frankly I’m sick of hearing it.

After the Newtown shooting I was down for the count. I couldn’t take another shooting, I couldn’t take living in a country where this happened and people’s first response was “get more guns!” I couldn’t. I fought on the side of stricter gun laws. I went through the crazed maze of people throwing nonsense at me and getting angry and name calling when I asked for facts and statistics to prove their argument. I guess this is one argument that will only be fought on the battlefield of emotion. I don’t know why this country is so against statistics and facts. I don’t know why we are so threatened by them. The minute you give a number or a fact someone comes at you with “well they got rid of 60 oz. sodas too!” That happened. That was an argument put to me, when I asked what that had to do with AR’s and AK’s the response was “I should have the right to choose a 60 oz. soda and I should have a right to choose an AK”. When did we get so entitled?

Everyone throws the Constitution around. I have a Constitutional right to bear arms! I have a Constitutional right to freedom of speech! What people forget is that Constitution was written when there was a real threat of the Government coming into your home and hurting you with their bare hands. It was written at a time when men needed guns in the house to protect their families from real tyranny and dangers. They didn’t have ADT security back then, their guns where their alarms. Oh, and that Constitution guaranteeing your freedom of speech was written when men didn’t say “fuck” in front of women and children out of respect. It was written in a different time to people that could handle those responsibilities. We have proven that we haven’t earned these rights and certainly cannot handle them. If you think I’m wrong let me present exhibit A:
Neil Heslin, the father of a 6-year-old boy who was slain in the …

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Feminism in the Classroom–Folly or Fantasy?

Schools in America are open to a tremendous amount of criticism.  Much of it is even deserved.  However, the increasingly tight control of curriculum based on political correctness is an area that is worthy of conversation.

It’s kind of an open secret in education that we sanitize the hell out of things that don’t portray us in the best light.  The Civil War was fought because those fine, noble northerners found the idea of slavery morally reprehensible (forget the economy).  Lewis Carroll had a fabulous imagination that really resonated with children (redact the pedophilia).  Our involvement in Vietnam was a success (I’m not really sure how we’re able to keep that whopper floating–probably by arguing that we’re not all a bunch of communists–but somehow the myth perpetuates).

Therefore, the idea of facing head-on a subject that will without question raise controversy and–oh, my stars!–make kids think is invigorating.

That Feminism falls under that umbrella, though … I’m not sure how I feel about that.

I recently attended a fantastic training on inquiry-based instruction and assessment in an English Language Arts classroom (a fancy way to say “good English teaching”).  The presenter, who teaches at an inner-city school in New York City, shared lots of great strategies, techniques, and resources.

What stood out the most to me, though, was a unit she shared focused around feminism. It was absolutely mind-blowing … everything from evaluating the degree of impact made by Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen to analyzing the philosophies of Mary Wollstonecraft to ..

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There’s Nothing Else Worth Writing About, Really

Friday, December 14th, 2012, was like any other morning. I got up and got ready for work. I turned on the news and heard that there had been a mass shooting at an elementary school and I froze when I saw that six people were injured. I went to work. I work at NBCUniversal, so news was coming in pretty steadily by this time. I listened as the body count climbed from six to eighteen, and eighteen to twenty, and twenty to twenty-six. I fought back tears when I heard that twenty of the casualties were children. I fought back tears again when I sat in a conference call and heard “Why aren’t we promoting on social? Cause of those kids? Come on!”

There was a mass of misinformation that day. No one could figure out if the shooter’s mother was involved at the school, if there was a second shooter, if there was a motive, etc. It didn’t matter, though. Nothing really mattered. I went home and, for the first time, cried over an American tragedy. I tried to do anything that might take my mind off of that Friday’s events, but everything took such effort. I just wanted to stay in bed. Nothing mattered. When I did venture out and I saw people walking I couldn’t fathom how they were doing it. Did they not know? Maybe they just don’t watch the news, because that’s the only explanation, right?

By the time Sunday came, we had all the information we were probably going to get. It was a single shooter—he used a Bushmaster assault rifle, and he put anywhere from three to eleven holes in the bodies of six- and seven-year-olds. Teachers told their students that they loved them so it would be the last thing they heard—not gun shots. She told them to wait for the good guys, and that they would be coming. Teachers formed human shields around children, and they read them stories and gave them lollipops. “We thought it would be our last snack,” one seven year old told a reporter. A 27-year-old teacher hid her students in cupboards and a closet then told the gunman that her “students [were] in the gym” before she, herself, was gunned down. Children spoke of how they heard the shooter banging on the locked closet door, screaming “Let me in!” One sweet six year old girl hid under the bodies of her fifteen classmates. When the police arrived, she ran to her mom and said, “Mommy, I’m okay but all my friends are dead.” One student offered, “I know karate! I’ll lead the way out.” The Principal and School Psychologist even charged the shooter. They charged him, but the rapid-fire weapon won out over their bravery. Parents gathered at the firehouse, waiting to embrace their children. They matched up children ages, five to ten, with their parents. What was left was twenty parents without their babies and that’s how they began identifying the bodies.

This past Monday, the funerals began. The bodies were finally identified (by photographs, because no parent should remember their child with eleven military-grade bulletholes in them) and released. Stories came out about Jack Pinto, a six-year-old boy whose favorite football player was Victor Cruz of the NY Giants. That night, Cruz dedicated a game to Jack and wrote his name on his gloves and cleats before heading to Newtown to see his family. Jack was buried in a replica Cruz jersey. Jessica Rekos, another six-year-old, loved horses. Her parents promised her that on her tenth birthday she would get a pony. For Christmas, Jessica asked for cowgirl boots and a cowgirl hat. Seven-year-old Daniel Barton wanted to be a fireman. At his funeral on Wednesday morning, New York firefighters were there, standing clad in dress blue uniforms, many with white gloves to honor Daniel.

Emilie Parker, another victim, loved drawing and carried her markers everywhere. Her father spoke to the press over the weekend. He said, “I am so lucky to be your dad,” present tense, which psychologies will tell you means he hasn’t accepted she’s gone—or in his past. He also said to the Lanza family, the family of the shooter that took his six-year-old little girl from him, “I can’t imagine how hard this experience must be for you, and I want you to know that our family and our love and our support goes out to you as well.”

So far we know that Nancy Lanza, the mother of the shooter Adam Lanza, was a good, kind, generous woman that vowed to be her son’s caretaker for life. She was a gun enthusiast and kept them in a gun locker in her basement. She didn’t work so she could monitor Adam, who had difficulties. She was in the process of having Adam committed at the time and this is being looked at as a possible motive for what Adam did. I mention Nancy Lanza because she, too, was a victim. I think the gutting number of twenty children ages six and seven makes us forget that seven adults died as well.

Naturally, this has sparked gun debates, healthcare debates, cultural debates, and parenting debates. But I don’t care. I don’t care about these debates. I don’t care anymore. I know this has happened fifteen times this year. I know something has to be done but I don’t care to debate it anymore. I …

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Happy Holidays: Christmas Cheer And Bitter Divides

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There is not a War On Christmas.

If there were, I would know. I would be at all of the strategy sessions.

Growing up, I was not bothered by all of the classroom festivities that accompanied the holiday season. I mean, what kindergarten student does not enjoy a break from classroom tedium to clumsily assemble gingerbread houses or to make tacky felt ornaments? I mean, my family set up a tree and lights and had presents—basically Christmas. More accurately described as Santamas, perhaps.

What I did not enjoy, particularly in elementary school (where it was extra abundant), was the default assumption that everyone celebrates Christmas. And feeling left out when other people knew songs that were not taught in music class but that classes were occasionally expected to sing towards the end of December. It was not a feeling of jealousy that, for other students, celebrating Christmas involved more than it did in my household. It was a resentment that I was excluded. That events were planned and that, even as an eight-year-old, I was very aware that the presence of myself and other students at my school who did not actually celebrate Christmas was mostly an afterthought. There was a token Hannukah song for any students who might be Jewish, and that was about it for non-Christians.

As an adult, I have no real desire to ruin anyone’s Christmas. What I want is for, in public spaces, as much inclusion as possible. While one could argue—and I would even agree—that having a decorated evergreen tree has almost become a secular symbol at this point (and, at any rate, at least decorating evergreen trees is not exclusively a Christian practice this time of year), a Nativity display on public property certainly is not. It is an exclusively Christian, religious display and it is not appropriate to display that on public land—certainly not on its own. I …

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