Thursday, June 3, 2010

On oil spills, disconnected Presidents, and Bloomfield

This is a longish rant meant mostly for me--
it will be as effective as screaming into a pillow,
and, I hope, just as comforting.




Last night I sat in on our Senior Awards Night, a lovely affair commemorating the deeds of our senior class. Over 90 awards were given, many of them specific to our town and our history.

The Ralph C. Diller Outstanding Choir Award, The Eric Segal Memorial Scholarship , The Raymond W. Hartman Outstanding Band Member Award...

Bloomfield has been around a long time--it's a proud working class town that still values effort over just about anything.

...The Edith M. Albinson Choral Award, The Margaret Sherlock Memorial Chemistry Scholarship, The Mary E. Boylan Egan Scholarship...

One award goes to a student with a "grade average of B-C, well rounded person in school, civic and youth activities." Another to a "student who has through perseverance and effort has maximized his potential."

...Suzan Hertzberg-Bohrer--Jason Pelusio Scholarship, Hilda R. Taffet Scho
larship,
Michael Castles Memorial Scholarship...


In 1849, Bloomfield joined the Free School Act, taxing its citizens to provide public education to its children. The Bloomfield Oakes Woolen Mill provided uniforms in the Civil War. A brownfield marks the early development of the atomic bomb in our neighborhood. Street signs carry the names of so many from town who died in wars past.

We've paid our dues.

...The Gay Gerber Memorial Scholarship, The George Daudelin Memorial Scholarship,
The Michael Cozzolongo Memorial Scholarship,
The Joseph A. Bongiorno Career Education Senior Awards...


For all the shouting coming from the Scarecrow in D.C., the folks in Bloomfield are still footing the bill for educating the children in their town. Anyone who has spent any real time in town knows someone who knows someone who knows someone--all of us are connected.

And so sometimes when I hear folks down in Louisiana expressing frustrations, I may not always think that they're comments are fair; on the other hand, I probably think to myself, these are folks who grew up fishing in these wetlands and seeing this as an integral part of who they are - and to see that messed up in this fashion would be infuriating.

A man who moved yanked his children from Illinois

No, Mr. President, folks who know the land under their feet, the water under their boats, do not see "this" as an integral part of who they are. It is, indeed, part of who they are.

Churlish parochialism gets lots of press. Farmers are hicks, clammers are slow, and commercial fisherman piss away all their money within hours of coming into port.

A real education, one worthy of producing citizens who the land enough to defend it to their deaths, must be parochial. If you do not love the earth beneath your feet, you cannot love this huge abstract thing called country.

I cannot know America any more than I can know the moon. I do know, however, the patch of land I tend in New Jersey. I know my clam bed as well as maybe a few dozen other people on this planet.

I will not fight for abstract, nonsensical causes. I will, however, defend a patch of Grassy Sound should someone try to take it.

The same week Mr. Obama made his inane statement, one that resists partisan classification, the Common Core State Standards Initiative released the final version of their standards, designed to make American children fit for the global workforce.

These standards provide appropriate benchmarks for all students, regardless of where they live, and allow states to more effectively help all students to succeed.

Steve Paine, West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools


I looked for the part about clamming--I think they missed it.

A kid growing up in Jersey needs to know about eel grass and horseshoe crabs; a kid growing up in Wyoming may need to learn a thing (or two) about grizzlies and elk. No child needs to learn how to be a private corporate clown. Public schools should be for the public good.If you want to raise a child who preys on others, there are plenty of private schools that will be glad to take your money.

That so few folks see the disconnect we are cultivating is infuriating.

I have no problem with some children "know[ing] and apply[ing] the Binomial Theorem for the expansion of (x + y)n in powers of x and y for a positive integer n, where x and y are any numbers, with coefficients determined for example by Pascal’s Triangle"--but I have a HUGE problem making that part of a core curriculum in any population where half the students are below average intelligence.

We have a decent town, with a lot of decent folks working hard to raise families, pay taxes, and, dare I say it, pursue happiness. You can live comfortably in Bloomfield even if (or maybe especially) you're not terribly ambitious.

If you cannot see the Bloomfield in me, or in my children, you have no business telling me how to raise them, no matter how much Bill Gates or Vartan Gregorian may need them. for their businesses.

Clamming is an honest business that requires a local education. Too bad we've gone done killed all the clams.

1 comment:

John Spencer said...

Wars will kill, oil will spill. We're gonna foot the bill from Capitol Hill. And still . . . we drill.

That was my Dr. Seuss moment of the day. I'll avoid the rhyme and point this out:

When the banks collapsed, I was quick to point out that it was, indeed, not my fault. This however, is partly my fault. My life is run on oil. Or coal. Or atoms splitting, leaving radioactive waste behind.

Oh, by the way, the Word Verification below is greenbattles. Nice.