What all parents should understand about “Common Core Standards”

I am only a teacher. I’ve only been a teacher for the past three decades. I, as you should be, are concerned with the implementation of “Common Core Standards” What gives me credibility is I was also concerned about the 2001 implementation of “No Child Left Behind”. We all know how that came out. I fear the new program will make a lot of money for the businesses of education and once again leave our students weakened and confused.

 

 

It is estimated that the program, “No Child Left Behind”, cost our nation $25 billion annually. Since I work in a school that was built before the 1930’s, and is in dire need of replacement at a cost citizens of my district simply can’t afford because they will be allotted no help by the state; spending $25 billion dollars a year on nothing makes me a bit ill.

 

 

Since most parents know little about this newest fix to public education let me attempt to answer the question, “What are the common core standards?” Simply put they are educational standards set as learning goals for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. It should sound good so far. These educational standards should help teachers ensure their student have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful. These standards should also help parents understand what is expected of their children.

 

 

The basic problem with this definition is that education chiefs and governors of 48 states came together to develop what they call the common core. I assume these chiefs of education believe what is important in the State of New Hampshire is the same as what is important in the state of Oklahoma. This confuses me because few people in Oklahoma are interested in marine science while few people in New Hampshire show little interest in the development of cactus. In other words, we are not all the same.

 

 

The implementation of “Common Core Standards” has already begun. Teachers across our state and nation are being instructed as to how the standards should be taught, the curriculum developed, and the materials used to support teachers as they help students reach the standards. This is supposedly being led entirely at the state and local levels but for the past two years, as an instructor, I’ve been inundated with national materials about how one should follow the standards. This, like the “No Child Left Behind” program will make a lot of money for a few people. Money will once again be extracted out of districts who, like mine, desperately need it and sent to education chiefs who own mega-publishing houses ready to send the “how-to” instructions of how to implement the “Common Core Standards:

 

The, “No Child Left Behind”, program cost our schools and neighborhoods massive amounts of tax dollars. The question is how much will the, “Common Core Standards” program cost? During the years 2000 – 2002, the NCLB program cost New Hampshire $224,803,072. This was an increase of $1022 per student. The NCLB program gave New Hampshire $102.00 per student. This information was from, “New Hampshire School Administration Association dated March 24, 2004.

 

The Common Core Standards program has been assessed through some western states. http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/state-costs-for-adopting-and-implementing-the-common-core-state-standards/. Concerning California, “Based on the state’s past experience, new curriculum frameworks and instructional materials could cost about $800 million for English and math combined. In addition, training teachers in both subjects could cost as much as $765 million, based on an assumption of $2,500 per teacher per subject and counting teachers both in self-contained classrooms and those that teach single subjects. An additional $20 million would be needed for training principals to help them in their work as instructional leaders (based on the amount that the state and the Gates Foundation appropriated in 2001–02 for initial training of administrators). Finally, developing tests based on new standards would add a relatively small amount to the total cost, with the exact sum depending on how quickly the new test questions were phased in and whether the state would retain the existing tests’ format, which currently contains almost entirely multiple-choice questions. Participation in an assessment consortium could also affect this cost. Thus, an estimate of the total cost of a more comprehensive retooling is about $1.6 billion over a few years.”

 

So, in other words, here we go again. I don’t understand why each state can’t put their resources into local schools run by the people who live in the town. We have the infrastructure in place with school boards, superintendents, principals, and guidance officials. Why does a local community have to send their resources off to some unknown administrative unit in order to educate their own children? Can you imagine how our schools could evolve if all that money stayed local. We wouldn’t have to worry about some cute titled national program to educate our children. We would only have to be concerned with our children and their futures.

 

Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine

Regret is an ugly and stupid word

Webster defines regret as: sorrow aroused by events beyond one’s control or an expression of sorrow. The problem I have with the term is it has to do with one’s past. This means there is not a damn thing one can do about it because it is done and over. Other than learning from it, why would anyone expend any energy obsessing over what could have been.

 

I checked multiple web sites concerning this problem of regret. To my surprise there were many. Then thinking back over what I could have regretted I came up with the following:

 

Staying in a bad relationship. The basic problem with this regret is everything changes and nothing stays the same. In other words, what may be a bad relationship now can evolve into something quite remarkable if it is not eliminated. In today’s society as soon as one feels difficulty it quickly eliminates it. This is the reason why divorce rates are forever increasing and marriage rates are going the other way. If one is trying to find the perfect relationship they will come to the understanding that nothing is perfect. Actually the only perfection is nothing (entropy). Sorry I had to throw in some chemistry.

 

Another common regret was being scared to try something new. I thought that waking up in the morning was trying something new. Why does trying something different have to be grandiose? Why can’t it be something like eating asparagus or taking a walk in a park or down a new beach? One doen’t have to regret they never started a corporation, jumping off a cliff, or even writing a book? Now that one could turn into a regret but as I stated before what is done is done.

 

Many people regret caring too much about what people think about you. Why should you? If someone doesn’t like you simply get away from that person. Why would anyone want to be surrounded by a person who doesn’t like you? There are many people in this world to choose from and I am sure there are many people who will like you. You also make the person who doesn’t like you win because their whole purpose is to aggravate and if you are annoyed by this person they basically won by making you regret.

 

Many people listed the concept of holding grudges as one of their biggest regrets. This is actually a dumb exercise. What is done is done and there is nothing on this planet that can change what happened in the past. When you hold a grudge all you are succeeding in doing is continuing what made you hold the grudge in the first place. Plus grudges have a tendency to evolve into revenge. If there were ever something to regret it would be the attempt to take that revenge back. Reality states that this is impossible to do.

 

Working too much is a regret most people believe is their greatest regret. The question is, what is work? Most everyone works and believe it or not most everyone enjoys what they do because they continue to do it. The worse situation is not being allowed to work. Then you roll into the concept of boredom and there is nothing worse than having nothing to do. I tell my students this a lot when they become stressed because of all the things they have to do. I tell them to think how they would be if they had nothing to do and how they would feel. They usually get this point.

 

Finally lets talk about stress. It is a known fact that stress will hurt you both physically and mentally. Stress never helps anything. In fact, it usually makes things worse. Also what you were stressed out from last year is probably totally different from what stresses you today. I believe the best way to beat stress is to think about past stresses and how they know longer exist. In reality what you were a year ago is probably different from what you are today and in a year from now you will again become a different person. To stress about things that will eventually change is simply foolish.

 

Webster defines regret as: sorrow aroused by events beyond one’s control or an expression of sorrow. The problem I have with the term is it has to do with one’s past. This means there is not a damn thing one can do about it. There is another definition of regret, “ a note politely refusing to accept an invitation. “ I am going to write myself a note stating that I will never regret anything.

 

Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine

Who should be accountable for our public schools?

Spring has finally sprung that ushers in everyone’s concepts of what our public schools should look like and who should be responsible for this appearance. Nobody will argue the fact the people across our nation consider the education of their children very important. Because of this, a large percentage of our tax dollars go to fund the schools of our communities. Looking back into our history it’s obvious this is not a new concept.

 

Today, many want to eliminate the concept of grades in order to help our students succeed. In other words, our education systems should eliminate the thought of giving grades and replace is with levels of competency based grading. Gone will be the concept of working hard to produce an A only to be replaced with the concept of having the student understand what the course is and what they need to learn in that course during the school year. Everyone will be the same because everyone will be told to learn the same thing; nothing more and nothing else with everyone succeeding and no one excelling. Schools along with their teachers and administrators are told to be held accountable for how well they teach the students. If the student doesn’t learn it must be the fault of the schools. Many in education call this enabling and promoting the concept the student feels entitled to their education instead of being responsible for it.

 

Gone are the times of our past when our nation led the world in the process of educating their children. Charles I. Hutchins was the York Supervisor of Schools during the school year ending February 21, 1893. Mr. Hutchins reports that, “As in years past, so in the present, the results have been varied. While some schools have shown a good degree of interest and enthusiasm and have made rapid progress, others have little more than held their own.” Reading through Mr. Hutchins report it is obvious he did not know how to mince his words. It is also obvious he was only concerned with the schools in his community and couldn’t care less about how well students in New Mexico were learning.

 

Mr. Hutchins did not like his students to be absent from school. He states this in his report by explaining that, “To my mind this irregular method of attending is the greatest evil with which our school system has to contend. Children on the slightest pretext, or without any excuse whatever are allowed to absent themselves from school at their own sweet-will.”

 

He goes on blame the parents for this absenteeism. I wonder how long our present superintendent of schools would last if he took Mr. Hutchins lead? ” A trifling snow, or a cold morning, is enough to keep children from school, though the day is generally passed in out-of-doors play, this enduring double the exposure they would have suffered on their way to and from school. Very few parents at the present day, do not own a team, and very few there are who could not, if so disposed, take their children in bad weather, to and from school and also help their less fortunate neighbors in the same way.” Back then both the parents and students were responsible for their own success.

 

Mr. Hutchins completes his condemnation of the parents who do not send their children to school by asking, “Why are parents so blind to the lasting interests of their children and why so unwilling to put forth any exertion to help them to an education?” As a teacher I ask myself this same question every day.

 

The supervisor of York’s schools in 1893, was also a defender of his teachers. He states that, “All of these things and some others go to swell the number of days and half days lost, and then the teacher is blamed because the child fails to make the progress in his studies that ought, under other circumstances, to be made.” He obviously understood the responsibility of a child’s education belongs to both parents and their children.

 

Mr. Hutchins goes on to explain that, “Where parents are interested in the welfare of the school, and manifest that interest, the teacher will as a rule, feel a greater interest and work harder for the welfare and advancement of the pupils. Nothing is more discouraging to a conscientious teacher, (and if possible none other should be employed), than the feeling that the parents are indifferent as to the conduct of the school, or about cooperating with the teacher.” Of course his admonishment of his teachers is also implied when he states, “It may however, be fair to the parent to assume that his indifference is more apparent than real. In that case a word to the wise is sufficient.”

 

Spring has finally sprung that ushers in everyone’s concepts of what our public schools should look like and who should be responsible for this appearance. If we, as a society, want to have our public schools be once again the envy of the world we have to stop looking for a magic bullet in the form of standard tests and competency grading systems and again focus on how our students and their parents are at the focal point of any success.

 

Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine

 

 

By destroying our own middle class we are following the history of failed great civilizations.

During my early years at an elementary school in Westbury, New York I made the mistake of asking my teacher when the United States would lose its power like every other nation in history lost theirs. I clearly remember the silence of my teacher and all of my peers. We had just won the Great War and were in the process of defeating a new evil called the Soviet Union when I had the audacity of asking when America, the greatest nation this world has ever seen, would fall into mediocrity.

 

For weeks I was sneered at by my friends and was ignored by most of my teachers. How dare I ask a question concerning my future and the future of everyone I have ever known? I then decided to make up for my mistake by taking every opportunity to display my love of country by drawing more American Flags that I could during every opportunity I had. Needless to say I made up for my curiosity concerning history and onward I roamed to my future. But, I never forgot my question even though none was brave enough to answer it.

 

It finally happened. The American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction. We are no longer the most affluent in the world. The middle class of The United States of America has received considerably smaller raises than other advanced industrialized nations. Middle class incomes in Canada are higher. The United States still has easily the world’s most prosperous major economy but most American families are paying a steep price for high and rising income inequality.

 

The struggles of the poor are even starker than those of the middle class. The poor in Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the Netherlands make significantly more than the poor of our own nation. Even though the United States has maintained its lead as the world’s richest nation, the rich are getting richer while those who are not so rich are becoming poorer. The average is the highest in the world but this distribution of wealth is literally imploding all of our futures.

 

Lets talk about some hard data. Being a chemistry teacher I am very comfortable working with numbers. In 2010, the median per capita income was $18,700, which means about $75,000, for a family of four after taxes. This is up 20% since 1980 but the problem is that this has virtually not changed since 2000, after inflation. Compared to other nations, the Netherlands, Canada, and Great Britain rose over 14% between 2000 and 2010. It is also an established fact that pay in several other European nations and Canada have risen faster since 2010, than it has in the United States.

 

Being a teacher of over three decades I am embarrassed to report the following: People of our nation between the ages of 55 and 65 have literacy, numeracy, and technology skills that are above average relative to the rest of the industrialized world. Those Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 rank well behind their counterparts in most of the industrialized world. Why do we continue to follow failed policies of standardized tests instead of concentrating on having our children be able to compete in, what is in fact, a globalized economy.

 

Companies in our nation have got to stop distributing a smaller share of their profits to the middle class and poor when compared to what they give to their top executives. These same top executives make substantially more money in the United States than in other nations throughout the world. This is made even worse by the fact that rich Americans pay lower taxes than the rich in may other nations and the US does not redistribute as much income to the poor. The inequality in disposable income is highest in our own nation.

 

So, why do we care? The comparison with the Roman Empire is frightening. The lower and middle classes were once the driving force in Rome’s economy. As Rome began its descent, the nation had become a nation of the haves and the have-nots and the rich and the poor.

Taxation was not equally administered. Parts of the Roman Empire were taxed while other parts were not. The rich aristocrats began to take over the rule of Rome, to become greedier.

Today, we also have the rich, the middle and lower classes. Taxation is not evenly distributed or fair as the middle class bears most of the burden of running the government and paying for it’s debts and other fiscal obligations. This will cause a sort of class war in America.

During my early years at an elementary school in Westbury, New York I made the mistake of asking my teacher when the United States would lose its power like every other nation in history lost theirs. I ask this same question some 50 years later in full knowledge that my colleagues will respond the same way they did in the past but I love my nation too much to remain silent.

Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine

 

What goes around has a tendency to come around

Join us now; we’re on a marathon.

We’re always dancing when the music plays.

Join us now; we’re on a marathon

Dancing, dancing through the nights and days.

Jacques Brell began his world famous lyrics with this description of lives of our past, present, and future. In his musical compilation he laughs and cries about our history and how we never are bothered about learning from our past. Another famous quotation comes from George Santayana. He wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

The United States is famous for forgetting the mistakes of its past. The classic modern example is the Viet Nam War that promised to remind all Americans that involving themselves in foreign adventures leads to disaster and too much death. I guess we forgot this because we ended up in two more wars that had the same consequences.

The world is proving to have little memory of its own history that led to World War II. The actors have changed but the plot remains the same.

On September 12, 1938, Hitler made a speech saying he would come to the assistance of the oppressed Sudeten Germans, and that he was constructing in the west the strongest defenses ever made by man.  If one exchanges the name Hitler with Putin and the areas of Sudetenland with Ukraine the concept of one part of our history plagiarizing another seems quite rational.

Hitler and now Putin demanded that the Sudetenland and now Crimea should be handed over to Germany and now Russia.  In the past the West made an agreement with Hitler that those areas containing more than 50% Germans should be handed back to Germany. I assume the world will be doing the same thing with Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.

Hitler wanted German troops to occupy the Sudetenland. If the Czechs did not agree with his terms by a specific date the German army would march across the borders. England and France accepted Hitler’s threats of war and now Europe and the United States seem to be accepting Putin’s terms and put pressure on Ukraine to sign their own death sentence.

In regards to our past Mussolini suggested that the four powers should get together and resolve the problem. The United Nations seems to be pushing for this same type of meeting. Hitler arranged the final meeting to be held in Munich.  Germany, Britain, France, and Italy were represented.  It is obvious Russia will be at the soon to be present meeting. Today in history I doubt if the new Slavic nations created after the fall of the Soviet Union will be invited. Without consulting the Czechs before the Great War, the four powers decided that the Sudetenland should be given to Germany.  Britain and France told the Czechs that if they did not agree they would have to fight the Germans themselves.  The question I have is will the Ukrainians be given this same ultimatum? Chamberlain of England and Daladier of France felt there was little they could do but to accept Hitler’s terms. It is again obvious The European Union and the United States will make a similar decision. For some odd reason they believe economic sanctions are more powerful than military threats. Hitler immediately broke the agreement by invading Czechoslovakia. By the time this essay is published it is a grave possibility Ukraine will be suffering through a similar fate.

Winston Churchill was appalled by the policy of appeasement at Munich. I doubt if there are any leaders of any nation in the West that will do the same today. Churchill stated, “I will begin by saying what everybody would like to ignore or forget but which nevertheless must be stated, namely, that we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat, and that France has suffered even more than we have . . . And do not suppose that this is the end.  This is only the beginning of the reckoning.  This foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigor, we arise again and make our stand for freedom as in the olden time.” [2]

The Munich Agreement was a huge success for Hitler who continued to have much more success, and made Hitler the master of Central Europe. It is obvious Putin’s Russia wants to achieve the same success.

Jacques Brell continued his condemnation and prediction on the folly of mankind by writing:

On Sundays the bulls get so bored

When they are asked to drop dead for us

The sword will plunge down and the mob will drool.

The blood will pour down and turn the sand to mud.

The moment of triumph when grocery clerks become Nero

The moment of triumph when the girls scream and shout

The name of their hero,

And when finally they fell

Did not the bulls’ dream of some hell

Where men and worn-out matadors still burn.

Or perhaps with their last breathes

Would not they pardon us their deaths

Knowing what we did at

Carthage, Waterloo, Verdun, Stalingrad, Iwo Jima, Hiroshima, Saigon, Bagdad, Kabul, Damascus, and now Kiev

 

Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine

 

 

How a local election mirrors the microcosm of society

Last week the people of Newmarket, New Hampshire voted on whether or not to build a new junior / senior high school. The building is now 89 years old and because of fire and safety issues a new school is mandated. The school now houses grades 6 through 12. The State of New Hampshire decided years ago to eliminate any aid to their towns in order to replace old schools. They did this because budgets would not allow any more deficit spending. In other words, the state like many other states decided it was more important to save money today in order to not allow their children to have to pick up the debt in their future.  The vote lost by a small margin but wasn’t near the necessary 60% in order to pass the bond that would allow the school to be built.

 

This concept mirrors many that are now plaguing the future of our society. Many in both state and federal governments feel it is important to stop any spending that would inflate the already inflated state and national debts. They want to balance their budgets today in order to not have deficits tomorrow. The question I have is what will be left for our children in a tomorrow that hasn’t taken care of its present?

 

For example our vast highway system that was built during the Eisenhower Administration after World War II is eroding to a point it will soon not be able to handle the traffic it was never meant to handle. By the way, a large deficit was created because of this construction but our past leaders knew it was important to employ the young men and women who returned from a war that saved all of our freedoms. Our bridges are no longer hinting they are ready to collapse because they are now collapsing killing innocent neighbors. In 2012, the I-35 Bridge in Minnesota did just that. Every time I drive over the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge between Portsmouth, NH and Kittery, Maine I say a little prayer as I view its deeply rusted and pitted structure.

 

Our gas mains are also feeling the effect of age. A few weeks ago in Harlem, New York at least six people were killed when an old water line collapsed into a gas line literally blowing up two buildings. It is said that most of the gas lines have been replaced in NYC but my primary question concerns the concept of “most”? Also how old are the water lines. Are we now in the midst of saving money for our present by hurting and even killing the people who no longer have a future? Sewer lines are another present problem that should be replaced. Why do our government officials insist we are not able to accomplish this because we don’t want to have our children carry the expenses of their parents? What will our children do if they have no means of discarding their own waste?

 

One of the greatest problems we have in our present world is our electrical and computer grid. If we continue to put off necessary updates to an integral part of our society that creates our life style how can we expect our children to have the same quality of life in their future? If the rest of the world continues to invest in their future while we continue to state we can’t afford the necessary expense it is obvious we are going to be left behind.

 

Now lets get back to the issue of education. For as long as I can remember my society always lead the world in innovation and technology. I was glued to my television with all of my peers with mouths opened watching as the heroes of our time circled the planet, went to the moon, and had visions of capturing the stars. Today our programs are being cut because our politicians state we can’t afford it. We can’t afford to pay for the future of our children’ dreams. In education we spend millions of dollars attempting to increase the motivation of our students. How the hell can one do that when they tell our children they can’t afford their future because of attempting to pay the debts of our today?  I, and many ask, without our future why would we bother to care about our present?

 

Last week the people of Newmarket, New Hampshire voted on whether or not to build a new junior / senior high school.  The vote failed, which means we all failed. I just pray we never stop trying to succeed.

 

Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine

Enabling our kids out of their future

Webster defines “enable” as to give ability, power, or means to make able”. At first you look at this definition and it seems to have few negative connotations. But, when you take away the individuals responsibility to enable themselves and replace it with someone else taking on this responsibility then this definition becomes negative and dangerous.
I’ve taught for over three decades. In this time I’ve worked with responsible and remarkably intelligent young men and women whose hard work and perseverance allowed them to attain their dreams. Something disturbing is happening to my students who happen to be your children. A few days ago I gave a class of students their semester final. As I was handing out the exam many of my students asked when there would be a make-up exam. I have to admit I was surprised by their question. I asked if they studied for their test and they told me this was unnecessary because they knew they would be allowed to re-take the test. I found out later that in many of their classes they were allowed to re-test as many times as necessary to pass the test and thus give the illusion of being proficient.
I believe, and many other veteran teachers agree we are enabling our students so they don’t have to be responsible for their own success. This situation has happened because education has become too data driven instead of student driven. With schools competing to see who the better institution is, increasing the percentage of proficient students who earn a degree is more important than training our students to succeed in their post-secondary lives.
National programs like “Common Core Standards” are diluting what we teach our students because of a belief that certain complicated parts of our curriculum are too sophisticated for our students to understand. Whole sections of curricula have been eliminated in hopes that the less we teach our students the more capable they will be to succeed. New tests have been developed to mirror this simplification hoping they can show success instead of preparing our students for their futures. It is common knowledge we are falling behind the rest of the global society in science and mathematics even though our test scores are increasing. The best analogy for this troubling situation is having the wolf evaluate the chicken house.
I’ve observed another evolving problem with enabling our students. They now feel a sense of entitlement. Going back to Webster, it defines entitle as: “a claim or right.” Many of my students have developed an idea that it is their right to be given specific grades and is not their responsibility to work for the knowledge that will help attain their dreams. They’ve been told to forget the concept there is a reason courses are called disciplines. It is simply the responsibility of the teacher or school to make the student proficient. I, and many like me, believe that if the student does not extend the effort they should not be given a proficient status.
Whole departments in our schools have been developed to make sure all students become proficient no matter what effort they put into their classes. Scholastically they are enabled by these new administrations but they are also socially enabled. Our children are very smart. If they don’t feel prepared for a specific evaluation or project they know they can use a social excuse for not participating. I am not saying that many of our children don’t need this help but the programs are beginning to overwhelm my students understanding that for every action there is a consequence. In other words, if they don’t expend the effort they will not be given the reward.
There is a lot of political pressure to demonstrate all our students are getting a proficient education. Across our nation it seems as though we are succeeding at this task but when you compare our students’ abilities to the rest of the world we are falling farther behind because the rest of the world’s proficiency is based on the student’s achievements and not the enablement by the institution and thus the feeling of entitlement by its students.
Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine

Censorship should be a four-letter word

            Webster defines censorship as, “to examine in order to take out things thought to be objectionable.”  The person or people that do this are called censors. These are officials who checks writing, movies, or even art to take out things thought by the censor as being objectionable.

 

The question here is what is the definition of objectionable.  Going back to my old tattered Webster Dictionary I discover that objectionable is defined as, “a reason for a feeling of disapproval. Being objectionable leads to the opposition of what is deemed objectionable.  My first question is by whom? This would have to be the censor who is defined as being, “the official who take things out that he deems to be objectionable.”

 

Most people dislike the concept of censorship but it is an integral part of our society. Recently one of the stars of “Duck Dynasty” made homophobic comments in an interview. By the way, I’ve never watched the show and have no idea as to why anyone would watch any type of reality show. Soon after the patriarch of the family that makes duck calls was suspended. His comments were not surprising because his image is one of a far right conservative with a Baptist base.

 

The question shouldn’t be what the comment was but did he have a right to express his views. Should he have been censored and ultimately censored from his show? I don’t agree with what he said but why should other people demand he stop discussing his beliefs. If it offends then the people it upsets should simply stop listening.

 

The written word is something else that should never be censored. There have been times in our history when nationalism overwhelmed patriotism by not allowing anyone to disagree with our national policies. These times then evolved into a time in our history when conservative groups where undermining our first amendment rights. Attitudes change with times. No one should be told how he or she could express himself or herself. No official should determine what is objectionable.

 

Recently I was part of a poetry slam at the University of New Hampshire. This was a group of talented poets who competed in front of young men and women to see whose prose was the most pertinent and enjoyable. The audience was asked to judge each poet on a “0” to “10 scale. Simone Beaubien, who is a nationally recognized slam master, explained that the most successful poet would be one who was both loved and hated by the audience. In other words, the poet would receive both a perfect “10” and a not so perfect “0” as scores. After the presentation there were some complaints that the poets went a bit too far. How can an expression of art go too far? If art is censored how can it still be considered art?

 

Music is an art form I rarely understand. Everyone has their likes and dislikes. Personally I enjoy the genre popular opera sung by Andrea Boccelli or Sarah Brightman. Since I can remember, their have been groups of censors demanding anything they found objectionable should be censored from Elvis Presley’s swinging hips to the Beatles shaggy hair cuts. Lyrics have been banned for using certain words and the artists who developed their own styles were said to be undermining the youth of our nation.  The best way to censor music would be to simply not listen to it.

 

The newest censorship has to do with education. The program entitled, “Common Core Standards”, tells the schools and the teachers what to teach. Of course, the program states it does not do this but the schools will be judged by how well their students do on standardized tests that are based on what the officials advised the teachers to teach. This is censorship with a bite; but most censorship is.

 

Webster defines censorship as, “to examine in order to take out things thought to be objectionable.”  The person or people that do this are called censors. These are officials who checks writing, movies, or even art to take out things thought by the censor as being objectionable.  If anything is going to be allowed to destroy our nation and society it will have nothing to do with art or any of its forms. It will have everything to do with censorship and those proud to call themselves censors.

 

Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine

 

 

As I look for my earlobe I see my students remarkable futures

The holidays are wonderful, exciting, enchanting, and can be quite depressing especially if one is young and uncertain of what they are. Teaching for the past four decades I’ve seen many young men and women suffer though this incapacity to see how wonderful their futures will be.

 

I try and explain they will see remarkable things and when I’m at Shady Acres looking for my ear lobes they will experience things that aren’t even in the imagination of anyone at the present time. I implore them to look at their cell phone. I doubt one could call it a cell phone anymore because in reality it is a high-powered computer that can give information about anything or anyone in this world. I ask if they remember what they used to use just five years ago. Most smile and give me a look that clearly reminds me the technology I’m talking about is now sitting in my right hand pocket.

 

Telephones will continue to evolve until they are small enough to be held as a wristwatch. I know readers who are now laughing because they know this technology already exists. But this cell will look exactly like a watch and will vibrate when someone is trying to reach you. There won’t be a keyboard because all you have to do is talk into the watch and it will change your sounds to words so texts will be delivered and then transferred back to words using the voice of who precipitated the message.  Emotions will also be felt by the watch warning the person who is trying to communicate a mood or feeling experienced by the wearer.

 

Eyeglasses will become the new computer screen. By a swish of the arms of the eyeglasses one will be able to look through the entire encyclopedia of our history. By tapping the side one will be able to hone in on what they are trying to discover or whom they are trying to find. Soon after one will not have to touch the glasses but simply move their eyes to become knowledgeable of everything.

 

Phones will not be the only remarkable technology they will experience.  Clothes will have the capacity to change color according to what fashion statement the wearer would like to make. Like the old mood rings of the 1960’s what one wears can relate to how one feels. If one is happy the oranges and the reds of the color spectrum will dominate while when one feels a bit down the blues and the purples will overwhelm all other colors.

 

Clothes will no longer be seasonal. When there is a temperature change the amount of air the fabrics of the future allow will determine the comfort of the person wearing the fabric. Like the changing colors the changing seasons will no longer necessitate a change in what one wears.

 

Gravity will no longer be a mystery. It will be understood as a simple warping of space. Space will no longer be considered perfection because there will be something more perfect than nothing. A new extension of total entropy will be replaced by something that will allow time to evolve from something to be measured into something that exists.

 

Travel to other dimensions will no longer be restricted by time because the dimensions will be found as close as your shadow. Far galaxies and other universes will become nothing more than a click in time.  Everyone will know where everyone else is because it will become genetic knowledge as to what people are, what people do, and where people are. We will all become the perfect community.

 

Aging will soon be a disease of our past. Understanding the concepts of DNA and Telomeres will allow the body to age to a point of maturity and no more. People will never look old even though they may grow old.

 

Teaching for the past four decades I’ve seen many young men and women suffer though an incapacity to see how wonderful their futures will be.  Using time to travel to the end of my life I am please with the knowledge the search for my ear lobe will show it is still my ear lobe.

 

Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine

 

The young have to remember they’re destined to get old

The largest problem the young have is they have no idea one day they will become old. I know this because there was a time not so long ago I was young. I had a full head of hair, my weight was high but kept up by some muscle structure, and my mind was clear to the point I knew I knew everything there was to know. I was also upset with the fact I had to take a portion of my earnings and give it to a government that passed things like social security and Medicare. I didn’t need those programs so why was I being asked to pay for them.

 

Well, I’m now old and I thank that damned government of ours for having the wisdom to help the people who needed the most help because they simply lived long enough to become old.

 

Our National Health Care Act, or more commonly knows as Obamacare is suffering through the concept by our young and healthy they will never grow old and why should they have to pay for something they don’t need. This brings to mind a favorite story I lived through that has nothing to do with health care. It has everything to do with education and community.

 

Back almost four decades ago I moved to a town that had yet to grow large and prosperous. Our town taxes paid for everything from the police department to our schools. You’ll notice I didn’t say fire department because at that time it was totally volunteer. Once a year we met in the high school’s gymnasium to decide what the school budget should be. Every year our taxes went up and because we were suffering though an economic collapse due to trickle down economics there were few in attendance that wanted or could afford to give the schools any more money.

 

I remember the arguments being heated. The families that had children in the school argued it was important we take care of our futures by supporting the schools. The families, whose children had gone through the school system, argued that enough was enough and as a community we could no longer afford any increase in the budget.

 

I sat there quietly with my wife knowing we were new to the town and until I paid into its coiffures for at least a couple of decades I had little right to argue any points that had to do with the town’s money. I do remember at the peak of the argument with multiple people waiting in line to say his or her pitch an older gentleman simply stood up. His photo could have been placed next to Webster’s definition of a “Mainer”. He didn’t bother to work his way to the microphone. He simply got out of his folded chair and started to talk. As soon as he did everyone else in the room listened. I don’t know what power he had but there were no complaints he basically cut in line.

 

He talked about a time decades before when the town paid for all of his seven kids education. Sure there were people there who had no children or whose children graduated from the schools. But, they didn’t complain because it was their time to take care of the new children of our community who were working to earn their time in their lives.  He then sat down and the budget passed.

 

The same thing is happening with our health care system. Sure there are older people who will use the new insurance system more than the younger people who are too busy and healthy to use it but there will be a time when as they grow older and weaker they will depend on people who are too young and busy to use it.

 

The largest problem the young have is they have no idea one day they will become old. I want to take the time to remind the young they are not invincible and what is will not always be. In other words, they will become old.

 

Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine