Week in, week out I read and edit stories, everything from police to municipal to county government to school boards, and everything in between.
Frequently I’m surprised, other times appalled, and too often amazed at elected officials’ actions and the public’s comments. Of all the various entities, school districts take the cake.
Over the course of 45 years, I’ve seen trends come and go, but I don’t think anything about which I’ve written heretofore compares to the recent rants over so-called pornographic reading material and the math with feelings movement.
While parents have railed about books such as “All Boys Aren’t Blue” and school boards have “studied” the problem, created work arounds for offended parents, they’ve all missed the most basic points.
Tens of thousands of people ran out to grab up a copy of that book so they could make allegedly-informed disapproving comments about its content. It won way too many honors, because well, it’s content – only a racist or homophobe wouldn’t vote for the book written by a black, queer man, and no one wants to be a racist or homophobe.
And all the while, the author, agent, publisher and all those involved in its production are grinning at the ongoing cha-ching of the cash registers with each sale.
Everyone who patted themself on the back for buying the book, being strong enough to wade through that miserable tripe, then supposedly bravely speak out against it is actually part of the problem, helping create the illusion it’s a wonderful best seller.
Admittedly, it’s disgusting, but I’ve read worse. I mean, I was the teen who read Xaviera Hollander’s “The Happy Hooker” when it released in the early 1970s. For that era, that was pornographic, seriously so. What I didn’t know before I read that book, I did by its tagline.
I’m not sure that’s the case for today’s youth reading “Blue” and other such books. They hear talk in the public schools and on the busses, probably even engage in the banter. They know about homosexuality, homophobia, abuse, bullying, racial tension, things that were not discussed by previous generations, well at least the generations of the old people such as me. It’s in the media all the time.
Sure we knew some people who liked people of the same gender, but no one talked about it; you just looked the other way and ignored what people did in the privacy of their own homes. Bullying was handled behind the school or the parked busses after school. In many ways, ours was a much more violent generation, taking care of business day-to-day on our own terms without all the touchy feely rules of modern education, where no one fails, everyone gets a prize, all the students must be happy, and no one has to learn to accept disappointment. These happy kids are the ones shooting up schools; school shootings weren’t a thing a couple generations ago.
But as far as “Blue,” I agree it should not see the light of day in a school or public library, ever. But not because it’s pornographic, which it is, purposefully so to get people to read it and rail against it.
The author wasn’t beaten up as a kid because he was queer or because he was black; he was a jerk. Period. But he twists his tale to make himself a victim, claiming it’s because he’s gay and black.
Even that, though, is not the reason it should be tossed in the dumpster.
It’s an extremely poorly written piece of trash, and should be tossed out with the rest of the refuse. Children, tiny tots to the oldest teens, should be exposed to well written works to build their understanding and use of language. “Blue” absolutely does not fall into that category.
Rather than worry about who may check out that book, parents should demand to know who jumped on the “we have to appear politically correct” bandwagon and bought the book for the library in the first place.
Just because it’s a best seller doesn’t mean it’s a well-written book. Stock those shelves with Pasternak, Twain, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, Hemingway, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Wordsworth and other of that ilk.
Along with learning language skills, math is another essential.
Week after week, I read about a certain school district leaning toward Reveal Math. I don’t know if it’s all touchy, feely as some claim, and frankly don’t care enough to spend my time investigating it, since I am sure it doesn’t stack up to other math programs, that based just on the reviews.
What I am sure of is that it’s cheap. Remember the adage, “You get what you pay for?” Does administration really want to go bottom of the barrel for the students?
Quite a number of years ago I did review math programs, a lot of them, and came to the conclusion Singapore Math was and still is top-notch – worldwide.
But schools here generally overlook it because it’s a K-8 program, so something different has to be found for high school. (Ask me, I’ll clue you in on a good series.”
Singapore Math provides such a solid foundation, transition is simple at its conclusion.
According to an educational website: “Singapore Math’s K-6 and 7-8 curricula is a mastery-based math curriculum that focuses on conceptual understanding. If there is a gold standard for math programs, Singapore Math is it. It teaches concepts as well as memorization and has a Common Core-aligned option. Pros: Many consider its strongest characteristics as its clear and multi-pronged presentation of concepts as well as its effective mix of drill, word problems, and mental calculation instruction. There are three versions, varying depending upon if you live in California, if you live in a Common Core State, or if you’re something else. Con: To some, it is too rigorous.
There are three versions if one would need something not as strenuous as the real deal Singapore Math, and more to the everyone needs a gold star program of learning.
And it is rigorous, especially the version used in Singapore, which is what I had imported for my last two children, the girls I homeschooled.
So, perhaps that district school board that plans to vote on the watered down, inexpensive math program Monday night may want to reconsider.
March has mud and the cherry blossoms which seems to hold their mysterious coming out timing to themselves. It has, usually, the last of the big snowstorms somewhere, if not here. And a lot more wind than summer time.
It also has seed catalogues, and for the impatient, plants to purchase in pots. Historian Jill Lepore, staff writer for the New Yorker magazine, reviewed a number of them, turning up a bean seed named for a Ferrari sports car, rhubarb that tastes like wine, and a “pickle perfect” cucumber. She seems to think that such promises are overstated.
Since moving to Gettysburg, I recall Marches so warm that I was ankle deep in the garden already. Other times when I was still scraping snow off underlying sidewalk ice. This is the month you never know what is going to happen, yanking us from spring fever to searching for another layer.
The fickleness of March’s reputation was sealed this week when a routine software update to my little laptop computer choked and could not restart. First time that ever happened. With a friend’s analysis, I learned that a reinstallation of windows was required. That went well enough, but every customized feature, every application of software, every memorized and conveniently automated process I had built into the little machine was gone. Since I back up everything important to the great cloud in the sky, nothing really vital was lost. But every well-worn pattern that made it easy and efficient – poof.
I went over the mountain on Wednesday night.
After covering the Gettysburg College women’s lacrosse team’s win over York, I sojourned to Shippensburg, where the men’s rugby team was scrimmaging the hosts under the lights.
I have made this trek many times. Even in winter, the sheer beauty of nature is inspiring. I traversed the pristine headwaters of the Conewago and ascended to the apex. On the way down, I enjoyed the startling views of the Appalachians far in the distance. I saw more deer (four) than vehicles (three) along the way. Thanks to daylight savings time, I was able to take it all in.
The rugby action, our first of the season, was encouraging. The lads open their season with a home tournament this Saturday. The pitch is directly across from the Adams County Historical Society’s new headquarters, which coincidentally is holding its grand opening the same day.
Check out the rugby or the impressive new edifice of which we should all be proud, or both. They need not by mutually exclusive.
Vanessa Pellechio Sanders
Friday, March 10 would have been my brother Vinny’s 30th birthday. My family wanted to do something incredible to honor and remember him, so we met his favorite World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) wrestler, the Undertaker.
Using Canva, I created a design for a T-shirt, incorporating different photos of Vinny where he wore the Undertaker’s designs over the years. My family showed the Undertaker the shirts, displaying Vinny as one of his biggest fans.
The Undertaker took his time signing our autograph, listening to Vinny’s story and tearing up with us. My parents selected a silver urn for Vinny, which resembled one the Undertaker would carry to his matches. They also had purple flowers for the funeral – the Undertaker’s signature color.
The Phenom (the Undertaker) has no idea how much he has meant to my family during our grief journeys. Meeting him and getting to hug him was indescribable.
As we were leaving the autograph area, I told him we had a photo op later and hopefully, we wouldn’t be as emotional for the picture. He said to “do what you gotta do.”
When we got up there for the photo hours later, he seemed to remember us and asked if I was alright before we took the photo.
I wish more than anything that Vinny could have been there with us to meet him. He was so kind, caring, and surpassed all expectations.
Vinny was pronounced dead on March 10, 2022 – his birthday. It has been a whole year without his smile, hugs, laugh, jokes, singing and everything.
It has been tough and doesn’t get any easier, but I always look for signs from him, whether it’s a song that comes on or a cardinal flying by.
I had two strange thoughts.
One concerned my thoughts themselves, which I generally experience as a stream of language punctuated infrequently by images, memories, or wordless intuitions. Very nearly all the time, a soundless voice is narrating or speculating. Undoubtedly, others have a different experience. I suppose there are as many different interior climates as there are people.
Anyway, this was the thought: “Wow, my internal monologue has stopped.”
It was true until I thought it.
The other thought was about the exterior world.
You can look out a window and see that it’s a windy day. Much of the environment is visibly in motion. Trees sway, stuff blows around on the ground, ripples appear in puddles, etc. You can see the wind affecting everything it’s strong enough to affect.
When it was so windy a couple of nights ago, I noticed the stars were twinkling more than usual. Twinkling is caused by movement in the atmosphere as it refracts starlight.
So, here’s the second strange thought.
In the case of stars, the wind was affecting the appearance of something without affecting the thing itself.
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