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

Replace the BS with Ed in our schools

The long lazy days of summer are once again coming to an end. These will be replaced by the shorter autumn months that change the color of our trees and yield the bounty we all worked hard for during the summer months. The end of summer also represents the beginning of a new school year for our children. Let’s do something important this year by replacing the BS with Ed in our schools.

To accomplish this, our schools need the help and efforts of three of the most important populations of our schools. First of all our teachers have to remember the reason and purpose of why they exist. They have to get away from the notion that success is equated by standardized tests and make sure the school is above some random scale created by people who spent little to no time in a classroom. We have to focus on our students individually who all have different needs and capacities. We have to instill a love of learning and the excitement of knowing that motivates our students to want to learn more. Teaching to a test or using a standardized template that eliminates the teacher’s ability to display the passion that made the teacher want to teach can’t achieve this. The point is our society is heterogeneous and can’t be grouped into being the same.

All administrators have to look at their schools as individual institutions that innovate and allow their teachers to take chances in order to succeed with their students. They have to also understand that what succeeds in Iowa may not succeed in New Hampshire. What flourishes in Portsmouth may die on the vine in Concord.
Standardization of education can’t succeed. This has been proven many times before. One just has to look at the last decade of the, “No Child Left Behind” program to understand this.

Administrators at all levels should never forget why they became teachers. They should take the time in their very busy day to teach one class. This would remind them of what teaching entails and how to best manage their teachers and students. Instead of burrowing through masses of data produced by some paper test they should take this time to remember what it is like to teach a class.

Other than students, parents are the most important part in the puzzle of education. They have to remember how important their children were before they sent them off to school. They are the experts in their child’s school and should never give up that power and responsibility to anyone no matter what the doyens say. The authorities and professionals look at the whole and forget this total is simply a sum of its parts. All parents have to protect their student’s right’s to be individuals and educated to the point at which their child’s dreams become realities.

Children think in terms of minutes instead of lifetimes. It is the obligation of the school to motivate these children into wanting to learn but the child also has to be responsible for their own education. The parents have to communicate with their children every day about what they are doing and learning at school. This is time consuming but always successful. As the child gets older this becomes more difficult because it now becomes more the child’s responsibility but it is imperative the parents still ask.

Students should ask their teachers to teach them more. I understand this sounds odd but if a student understands their is a reason studies are called disciplines they will carry this knowledge the rest of their lives. Get back to the days of asking why over and over again. Never let any professional give you an answer you don’t understand. Students should correct their teachers, make them dig deeper into information so the student will understand, and never believe everything that is taught has to be true. In my three decades teaching I’ve had the privilege of knowing many great teachers and administrators. The one entity they had in common was they yearned for the student to question what is being taught. This attitude is not disrespectful; it is wonderful.

The long lazy days of summer are once again coming to an end. The only way our future can once again become exciting is for the administrators, teachers, parents, and students to understand the future is directly connected to what they do and learn.

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

Remembering the good ole days of teaching

Having taught for over three decades it’s easy to reminisce about days gone by and how my profession was equated by the success of my students instead of the results of a standardized test few people thought important. Sitting in my old dilapidated desk chair that is now held together by rolls of duct tape and some boards I found lying on the side of my school I think about my students and how we climbed the mountain of knowledge together.
What first comes to mind was when my senior and junior students of Advanced Placement Chemistry ended their year by putting on a chemistry magic show for 6th grade students. You see I am still in a small community school that houses grades 6 – 12. I know there is little future for this type of institution because public education has become expensive and the only way to educate our young men and women will be through large regional institutions. This is a bit sad because I can honestly say I know pretty much every student in this school even though my classes are only filled with older students. I used to get a kick out of when a student evolved into my class and knew exactly who I was and what to expect. In other words, the small community school was truly a community.
Surrounding dozens of young children who sat on the floor were my students dressed in white lab coats excited about the prospect of creating both wonderment and motivation toward the magic of science. I begin the exercise by explaining to my future students that science isn’t magic but magic is definitely science. They listen but they want me to get out of the way so they can see what my students have prepared for them.
My first student asks for volunteers to show them how a simple powder can make their hands stay dry even though they push their fingers into a large beaker of water. At first only a few students volunteer but after they see how the water surrounds their hands but never touches them they all raise their hands in order to become a part of what they know is science but seems like magic.
My next two students who are destined to spend the next four years of their lives becoming the engineers they always wanted to be start their demonstration with a simple card trick that makes the younger students laugh. I just sit back and watch for at this point in the year I’ve evolved from being their teacher to becoming their audience. After the tricks that lights a black card on fire only to become a red card, ice is lit on fire even though everyone one of the children watching knows this can’t happen, and finally a demonstration of a Briggs reaction that many a professor has had a tough time successfully completing. The beaker is filled with a clear liquid that becomes amber and then turns blue and then goes clear and repeats this oscillation for many minutes. I watch the young students become mesmerized by the reaction and I see in their eyes that they want to become the students they are watching and become motivated that this will become a fact.
Rainbow flames are presented with colored bubbles that bounce and don’t break. In fact after a few moments into this presentation the bubbles are thrown into the mass like a beach ball at Fenway Park. Everyone is excited now. Even the teachers that brought the young students into my lab have their mouths opened in wonderment. In fact, looking toward the back of my room I see many other students of all ages with their faces pushed up against the glass that separates my room from the hallway wishing they could become part of this chemistry magic.
The demonstration that has evolved into a show now has luminescence appear between towels being squeezed together, colored foam being pushed outside a flask looking as though it became a volcano through the science that has now become magic. A round bottomed flask is reduced with sugar into becoming a Christmas tree decoration in which one of my students took it upon herself to wrap a wire around its neck and give it to one of the young observers. I can feel the pride emanating from the room by both my students and the students I may see in their futures.
The show ends an hour and a half later with a demonstration of blue ublick dancing on a large woofer speaker so it comes to life and dances while the audience and demonstrators dance with it and come to the realization that science is fun and that the more they learn the more fun it can be.
Having taught for over three decades it is easy to reminisce about days gone by and how my profession was equated by the success of my students instead of the results of a standardized test few people thought important. But, that was only yesterday and I can’t wait until tomorrow arrives.
Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine
You can contact Jim at: james.fabiano60@gmail.com

Fogs surround the future of public education

I am now sitting in front of sixteen young men and women who are being forced to take a test that mean little to them. In fact, I am informed it is a low priority test. They are told they have to take these standardized tests in order to equate the success of their education. Most of them realize the test is not for them but rather to quantitate how well their teachers teach and schools succeed.
All of the students sitting before me would rather be in class. They work diligently on the test but many are confused because what they are being asked was never taught to them because this specific test concentrates on subjects they haven’t seen since the 8th grade. Schools are scrambling to change their curricula in order to have their students succeed by teaching to a test. Anyone who understands what education is and how important it is to our children realizes that this strategy is destined to fail.
Looking back at the last decade of the strategies of “No Child Left Behind (NCLB)” it is obvious it drove us farther behind the rest of the world in the understanding of mathematics and science. Educators who insist that standardized tests are the means of improving our student’s success in comparison to the rest of the world are failing to understand the statistics that prove them wrong.
By the way the “NCLB” program has been eliminated or at least its value greatly reduced throughout our nation. It’s too bad it took us well over a decade to figure it out. The education establishment is now working on a new program entitled, “Common Core Standards” to save our children from being overwhelmed by students of most foreign nations. Every one clearly understands we live in a global society and successful competition is vital if we are to retain the living standards we enjoy today. Successful competition has nothing to do with standardized tests. It has everything to do with motivating our children toward wanting to become a part of a modern world that will truly be amazing.
In order to succeed we need teachers to teach to their students. Not to a test, written by people who were probably never in the classroom, but by teachers through diffusion having their students feel the excitement the teachers themselves feel about the magic of what they love to learn.

Schools have to equate their own success, not by a low priority standardized test but by how successful their students are when they leave the school. Few schools follow their students after they evolve from elementary to middle school, to high school, and then through post-secondary education. If their students do not do well in their lives then the school must change its strategies.

These statistics are disgusting and are getting worse. We can’t, as a society continue to pursue programs that are destined to fail. Personally I will lose this battle. I’ve been teaching for over three decades and have worked with and am working with remarkable and talented young men and women. There is nothing wrong with today’s students. There is everything wrong with the system that is more interested in the profitability of their industry then with the success of our children. By the way, a new pilot for standardized tests using common core standards has just been announced. It is called, “The Smarter Balanced Pilot Test, by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

Back on the carousel we go.
Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine
You can contact Jim at: james.fabiano60@gmail.com

It’s time for a garage sale of my mind

I went blind last week. Thank God, it was only for one week. I had a massive allergic reaction in my left eye that literally closed it. It was quite gross. The membrane behind the eye swelled to the point it covered the eye. To say I looked like an extra in some B-rated horror flick would be an understatement.

The problem wouldn’t have been so exaggerated if I were born with two working eyes. I was born with one. It never bothered me before because I didn’t know better. In fact, no one found out about my one blind eye until I was twelve years old. Back then people simply didn’t look for problems. I believe this is why there seems to be more problems now then we had in the past. People are just looking harder. Since there was little I could do without bumping into things I just hung around between doctor appointments and thought about all the clutter in my mind I should start getting rid of. Physiologically one only has a certain number of dendrites to hold information and once those are filled there is little room for anything new.

Plus, why should one be bothered by the past of which you can do nothing about. It is hard to handle the present in order to hope for the future. The past is something that is done and can never change. I smile when I think of one of my favorite expressions. I didn’t make it up or know who did but it is part of a memory I will never throw away. It states that the past is history, the future is a mystery, and there is a reason they call today a present.

Everyone loves a garage sale. It’s a time when we can get rid of all the junk we have accumulated over the past decade or six. It’s usually precipitated, either by a spouse demanding that all closets be emptied or the need to have a car actually fit in a garage. So, sitting in my new out-of-focus world I decided it was time to have my own mental garage sale.

Having my first bout with blindness I decided to get rid of a memory from my past. Not a memory, so much as a disability that had been with me my whole life. I was born with one eye not working. It worked a little but the shadows and blurred images I could see didn’t allow any depth perception or the excitement of playing a pirate with a black eye patch. I also had a tough time playing catcher on my little league baseball team. Since I was always the largest player on the team my coach who happened to be my father decided I would make a great catcher. Needless to say after I was almost knocked out two or three times off to my old position of third base I was sent.

I hid this disability for most of my childhood years. In fact, I thought it was normal for people to be able to see clearly out of one eye and not so clearly out of the other. Every time I went to the doctor he asked me how I was seeing. On a couple of occasions I told him I had a tough time seeing out of my right eye. Since both my older sisters had glasses the doctor assumed I wanted to be like them and was making up the story that my right eye didn’t work. I think my distrust of doctors started when I was very young.

I was finally found out when I was a freshman in high school. In fact, it was my fault they found out. After I made the football team I told my coach I had a difficult time seeing out of the right side of my helmet. Since my position was defensive lineman I was easy prey for anyone blocking from the right. The coach sent me to the nurse who finally sent me to an ophthalmologist who discovered I had little sight in my right eye. He also discovered it couldn’t be fixed and I would have to live with it. This was not a major problem because I had been living with it for the first 14 years of my life. But, because I had this type of physical disability I was told it was too dangerous for me to play sports. I was not only taken off the football team but also all the teams my high school offered. This devastated me to the point that I lost about 40 pounds and became convinced I was not as good as everyone else.

Looking out through the blurred vision of my now only eye I realized I had hung onto this useless memory for most of my life. Even though I had always tried to show that I could do anything I wanted I was still nagged by the fact I had one eye that didn’t work. On this day, the day I thought I lost my only good eye I decided to finally get rid of that thought and concentrate instead on the fact that I had an eye that will hopefully work well again. The ultimate garage sale had just released a part of my history I no longer wanted. In fact, the garage sale of my mind has just begun.

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