Current Events Haiku

Haiku Review

Shit show in Texas

Opinion is different from

Solid evidence

Speaking on that point

Transphobic remarks shouldn’t

Get large Netflix deals.

Anyway stay safe

Go find a vaccination

And wear your masks friends.

Current Events History

Why You Can Judge Historical Actors

On Monday, the nation celebrated what is now proclaimed as Indigenous Peoples day. Previously, it was called Columbus day. The name of this day has been the cause of quite a bit of controversy over the years, but while the name change is a good step forward, it doesn’t really do anything actionable for Indigenous People in the United States. Americans will continue to receive the day off whether they call it Columbus Day or Indigenous People day, and the worst kinds of these people will whine about the name change.

That whining is what I want to talk about today.

It is well documented that Columbus is the worst. He stumbled into what is modern day Bahamas by luck and/or accident. He wrote about how he planned to enslave the people he encountered, and he was so awful that he was brought home in disgrace and jailed. There’s no real argument that he was awful.

The argument comes in whether we can judge him for how shitty he was.

This is something that comes up a lot when people talk about history. I say something like “UGH, I HATE Columbus.” And, inevitably, some dude bro (probably Deuce) says “ok, but you can’t judge someone in history based on modern day values.” As though it was perfectly fine to rape, murder, exploit, and enslave people (it may surprise to you find out there were laws back then.)

You too, may have run into this problem when talking about history. This idea, that we can’t judge historical actors is usually a bad argument. It’s an attempt to shut down the conversation while still uplifting one of the “hero’s” of history that’s on the decline. Because here’s the thing, it’s true that we shouldn’t judge historical actors based on our modern day values (though there’s another argument about “progress” in there somewhere). However, we CAN judge historical actors based on how contemporaries judged them.

Take Columbus for example. I’ve already mentioned that the Spanish monarchs had him jailed for tyranny he was doing in the new colonies. But if we only talk about colonizers, then we are missing a large part of the story.

You see, we are missing the voices of the exploited.

The argument of “you can’t judge someone on modern day values” excludes the judgement of people who were colonized, enslaved, and exploited. It takes away their agency and their story. The Indigenous People of what became the Bahama’s weren’t like “Oh hi, yes, please! Take my land, take my labor, take my body!” NO, they resisted. They did not want Columbus to exploit them. Their voices matter, and the argument of “don’t judge” ensures that the voices of victims remain obscured.

Ok…So What?

People who were exploited, colonized, enslaved – all of them resisted. Their constant, daily resistance was a judgement against their exploiters. They judged Columbus, just as enslaved people judged their enslavers.

So, when someone is shitty in history, your first thought should not be “Yes, well he was shitty but…” *gestures* “It was the 1500’s” *shrug*. Your thought should be, “how did people resist this exploitation?” Because guaranteed, the people being exploited did not want to be exploited. They had agency, and they absolutely judged.

Part of growing up is complicating the stories you thought were true. That includes the people who were pitched to us as historical hero’s. We can and should judge them, and we do that by listening to the voices of the exploited. As a nation, and as a people, this is the only way we can “progress.”

Columbus was the WOOOOoooOOOORrrRSssST

Haiku Haiku Review

Haiku Review ( burn out edition)

Kids are stressing out

Teachers have no time to prep


When will we realize

That collective grief is real?


We aren’t the same as

Eighteen months ago. This is


Current Events History

Social Media is awful. What now?

It’s no surprise to find out that Facebook is complete trash. We’ve known that Facebook is complicit in lots of things, including election meddling. Now, we know that Facebook and Instagram are doing damage to teens 13+ and under 13. And, honestly, we all knew this anyway, because social media can really mess with us mentally.

But…what do we do about it?

It’s very difficult for me, as someone who is connected to so many people on the internet, to say something like “burn it down.” We know Facebook is shit, but places like Twitter or Tik Tok also come with a ton of problems. However, these apps, and the internet, connect us in ways we’ve never been connected before. Never has that been more apparent than the past 18 months as we’ve lived through the isolation of Covid.

Social media as the Triangular Trade

In class, I often bring up the the internet and social media as a sort of modern day Triangular Trade. If you don’t know, the Triangular Trade (you may have learned it as the Columbian Exchange, but fuck that guy) is the global exchange of people, plants, animals, goods, and diseases.

The triangular trade ushered in a new era, opening the world in a way it had never been before. People were suddenly connected to a world across the ocean. They talked about it, read about it, ate new foods, learned new information, and some moved there and became colonizers.

But contact also meant that 90% of indigenous people died. It meant that millions and millions of Africans were enslaved in the Americas. It meant that the people and the land was used, abused, and forever remade to shape a new vision of the world.

So, you know. Not great.

Ok…So What?

In the years after 1492, there were many people who wanted to make gobs of money by doing absolute shitty things. Why? Because it didn’t matter, they’d be rich, so they took advantage of an opportunity.

That’s kind of like Zuckerberg right now. Facebook is shitty – but so are a lot of internet companies and people. The internet is so new, and we are all still learning how to use – and abuse – it. So what can you do about it?

Focus on the kids

Look, we can’t hide the internet from kids, it’s here, and they are way better at internetting than we are. They have finsta’s (fake insta’s), they have Tik Tok, Facebook, and Snapchat (also terrible) and they will and do hide it from you. I know, because I’m a teacher, and they will straight up tell me that they hide social from their parents.

Adults must have hard conversations with kids. These conversations must center around teaching kids how to be good internet citizens – just like we should try to teach them how to be good global citizens. How do you do this? Well, you, as the adult, must be willing to set rules, and follow them. This is super difficult, but there are apps for that. My family has Disney Circle, which allows us to limit access to the internet on their devices and see what they are looking at. This provides them with autonomy, and it provides us with control. This isn’t the only option available though, so do your research and find what’s best for your family.

You should also speak to your kids, or kids in your life, frequently, about the internet. Don’t demand their phone and go through it. Instead, build a tech relationship with them. Discuss the pros and cons of the internet. The pro’s and cons of apps. Teach them how to Twitter, and lead by example.

Because, bottom line, tech is progressing at an unprecedented pace. As an average human, we don’t have the ability to stop shitty people from being awful. However, we can teach our children, and ourselves, how to be responsible on the internet. How to spot bad facts, how to look up valid sources. Essentially, we have to learn how to consume the internet without it consuming us.

Recently surfaced early photo of Christopher Columbus (colorized). Strange resemblance, right?

Education History Local Government

Systematically tackling the word “systemic.”

If you’ve been a part of the interwebz at all then you know that the way history is taught in k-12 schools is under attack. I’ve already created a few blog posts that discuss the attack on history and here I am again, singing another song. This time it’s a ballad.

School boards and/or state legislatures are attempting to ban certain language in a history classroom. This is an insidious move, because language matters, and the way we speak about the past matters. By attempting to ban specific language, Conservatives imply to their base that “systemic racism” and “equity” either doesn’t exist or are an attempt to make white people feel bad.

Do you teach CRT?

Before school started, a colleague straight up asked if I teach CRT. I asked them to define what they meant by CRT. This person said “well, like, do you teach about systemic racism?” and I said “yes, because racist systems have and do exist in history.” Then, I said “why don’t you define what you mean by the terms “systemic and racism'” They couldn’t define the terms.

This is a problem, because Conservatives are spreading fear about language to a base that doesn’t even understand the language being used.

So let’s break it down.

One word that makes every “banned” list is the word “systemic.” Of course, systemic simply means affecting all parts of a system, whatever that system may be. In a historical sense, it usually means the system of laws that define our nation.

And see, here’s the thing. We do have systemic racism built into the very fabric of our laws. This is true now, as well as historically. Banning the word only bans the history, which perpetuates bias and…wait for it…more systemic racism.

If you’re saying, yes, but what laws?! Well, that’s a long answer, but I’ll give you a run down. I wont even talk about the slave codes or the 3/5 compromise. Let’s talk about citizenship and the rights of citizens.

Dred Scott v Sanford stated that Black people in the United States (free or enslaved) were not citizens. It wasn’t until the Fourteenth Amendment that the Black community received citizenship (Indigenous peoples wouldn’t receive citizenship until 1924).

Ok ok ok, that was so long ago right? Well yes…but…we know that the Reconstruction Amendments didn’t fix racism, instead it was woven into laws in different ways. For example, Black men were segregated during war time until Vietnam. Often, this meant that Black families couldn’t benefit from the service acts that came after WWII.

Don’t get me started on the internment of Japanese Americans, or the “repatriation drives” of Mexican Americans during the depression.

These are just a smattering of real, impactful, lasting laws that were made by this country that directly impacted citizens. These laws weren’t based on birth, rather they were based on heritage and skin color.

So…they are examples of systemic racism!

OK…So What?

One thing that Conservatives don’t want to feel is guilt for the past. Another thing they don’t want is the education of demonstrable truths. You see, if teachers educate students in straight facts about the laws in our nation, then the students might grow up to tear those laws apart, resulting in a loss of privilege for Conservative politicians and their base (white liberals I’m eyeing a lot of you too).

The strategy to teach a Conservative history of the United States is not new. However, this is its current iteration. Just like book banning, the banning of language is an attempt to hamstring teachers from teaching about the darker parts of our American past. Here’s the problem with that attitude…we can’t continue to “progress” if we don’t change.

And there’s the crux of the matter. Change means the loss of power and priviledge. It also means discomfort and reckoning with actions of the past. Redlining was legal until 1968, and it still exists outside of the law through “standard practices.” This is not a long ago past, this is our present. Until we fix the laws that treat citizens unequally, we will never be a United country.

School board elections are as important as national elections

Education Local Government

“School Choice” Does Not Mean What You Think It Means.

On the outset, funding to send your child to a private school sounds pretty good. I think, as parents, we often want our children to get the “best” – the best schooling, the best experience, the best clothes…etc. So, it’s no surprise that when Arizona offered vouchers for private schools, many families jumped at the chance.

Except…it’s not what you think.

There’s a catch to the new voucher system. In a glaring move of passive aggression the students are only eligible for a voucher IF they are in a school with a mask mandate or quarantine procedures. This allows students to move to a private school that is not regulated the same as public schools, and in a big fuck you to the federal government, the Governor is using Covid Relief Funds to pay for the voucher system. Woof.

Ok…So What?

School choice advocates often use the voucher system as a way of pretending that they care about education. They say “everyone deserves a good education, so let’s give some people some money and send them to private schools!”

That’s a fallacy though, because private schools and vouchers are not equitable at all. It’s a way of defunding the public school system, by taking money reserved for public schools and pulling children out of them. Even now, public schools in wealthy areas receive better funding than those in lower income areas. Why? Schools are funded by property taxes. They are also funded based on the number of booties in seats.

School is not equitable (though it should be) and vouchers aren’t going to fix the problem.

On top of the fact that Arizona is making policy that directly impacts the health of the community, not to mention children, it’s likely that those students who take advantage of this particular voucher will be forced back to their normal public school when the funds run out. So, students are uprooted from their education not once but twice. They may miss important learning blocks that they need to carry with them from grade-to-grade, and for what? So that the Governor of Arizona can point his middle finger at the Federal Government.

So what can you do?

First, anytime there’s a voucher program on the ballot you should vote against it. Vouchers do not create equitable education, and they only assist a small minority of students. Also, the rules that apply to public education don’t apply to private education – so who knows where your money is going.

Second, anytime you can vote to expand funding to public schools – do it. Maybe you don’t have kids, maybe you don’t want kids. That’s fine, but look, whether you like it or not kids grow up and become your neighbors, voters, and people in the community. If you want an educated and well rounded community, invest in public schools.

Third, and here we are again, local voting is important. School boards, Mayors, City Councils, Governors, they all determine your child’s education and thus the fate of your city. Vote like the town depends on it.

Because it quite literally does.

Gaston definitely voted for vouchers. He hates education.

Climate Education History

Why History Teachers Should Teach Climate Justice

I have a lot of “soap boxes” in my life. One is that history is the most important subject to learn. Another is that we as individuals, communities, nation, and as a world, must make radical changes to save our planet.

Let’s talk about the intersection.

I teach American history to 7th and 8th graders. As part of the curriculum, we delve into the colonization of the Americas, the Triangular Trade, and the enslavement of Africans. My MA is in American history, with an emphasis on colonial enslavement, so these are always some of my favorite lessons to teach. It’s also where those seeds of climate justice can begin to be planted.

Most adults know, at some level, that the colonization of the Americas was a brutal process. 90% of indigenous Americans died as a result of disease and tens of millions of Africans were enslaved and brought to the Americas. However, what’s not often talked about is how brutal colonization was on the land as well.

Turned out, the Americas were perfect for growing cash crops (rice, tobacco, indigo, sugar, cotton, among others). With the indigenous population dying from disease and enslavement, Europeans had more access to fertile land. So what did they do?

They wrecked it.

Europeans forced their enslaved labor to cut down the forests, damed up the waterways, and burned the land, why? Those money making cash crops. They wanted gold and glory, and honestly they didn’t fucking care what it did to the people or the land – as long as they could live how they thought they should live. This goes for any colonizer, by the way. Don’t at me and tell me that the Quakers didn’t like slavery. I fucking know. They still took land and made it their own.

OK…So What?

Colonization is the brutal extraction of resources from the land and the people that live on the land. Which, really, is no different than what hundreds of companies are doing now. This is why history is important and this is why history teachers should intersect their lessons with lessons about climate injustice.

You see, if students understand the motivations of European Colonizers, they’ll also recognize the motivations of oil companies that try to put pipelines on sacred land. If students understand the remaking and reshaping of land for capitalistic purposes, they’ll understand the continued destruction of the Amazon Rainforest. If students understand the enslavement of humans for profit, they’ll understand the use of migrant labor for farming and other industries.

Look, the “other side” (by which I mean the conservatives who think I teach some random version of CRT) try to control what’s taught in history exactly so that effective change is not made. So that the profits continue to roll in – gold and glory and all that. Therefore, it becomes essential to teach real history. The truth. Not a garbled and whitewashed version of it.

History has the power to create radical change makers, and all you have to do is connect the dots from the past to the present.

Probably your sister’s boyfriend’s ancestor.
Education Local Government

Spite Post

This post pertains very specifically to local leadership, so unless you’re ready for ultimate pettiness move along now.

Ah, I see you’re all still here. Petty and spiteful like me. Good, good. Let’s begin.

I talk a lot about how local elections are incredibly important, and how they often impact your daily life and routine. In 2016 the city I live in decided to incorporate. Now. I want to be clear. I’m a very liberal person. I don’t mind higher taxes, especially if it means that the people in the city are being taken care of.

That is not what’s happening in my local government.

My city, Millcreek, decided to use funds to create a thriving city center. In this city center we are supposed to have an ice ribbon to live out our cutting edge fantasy, some mixed space housing, a park, and a new city hall – all bright and shiny. Whatever, of course our taxes are paying for it, but it’s supposed to up our home value. Right? RIGHT?!

So far the dream of this new city center has gone up in flames. No, literally, half of it burned down over the summer. The fire caused a million dollars in damage, and a ton of set backs. That day my family packed up because ash from the blaze was raining down on our houses and the fields around us. Whatever, more taxes I guess.

I’ve already been irritated every day as I drive past the burned out husk of what used to be the physical fruits of my tax dollars. Today, however, I learned that in this new city center, there’s a proposal to put in three HUGE digital signs, inside a place designed for pedestrians. These proposed signs will be anywhere from 26-35 feet tall. I’m like, 5 foot, so I don’t really have a good concept of what that means. But this article assures me that it’s too big for pedestrians – it’s meant for cars.

Ok…So What?

Well, other than how gauche the signs will look in the middle of our little city inside a place meant for people and not cars, there are a number of other problems. First, we really don’t have the road space to accommodate all this new development. The two streets the city center will lay on are 1-2 lane roads. I don’t even know where the parking will be…my street I guess? Underground? It’s unclear.

Second, our Mayor has a clear conflict of interest. The mayor has ties to Reagan Billboards which will supply the signs of unusual size. So, for my tax dollars I get ridiculously large signs, crowded streets, higher taxes and…what? I have to also pay to take myself and my kids to a fucking ice ribbon.

Seems like a scam to me. Here’s the thing, it’s supposed to be for the public, but it’s becoming clear that it was never for us. It’s so that businesses can make money off of us. A park would have been so much more useful. And free to enjoy.

So, anyway look. Local elections are really important. They affect your commute, your property value, and your wallet. Vote informed, vote often, and DO NOT vote for this guy.


Climate Education Haiku Review

Saturday Haiku Review

Activists for Earth

Are being killed at high rates.

While we turn blind eyes

Flooding will not stop

Unless we change our habits

Is that possible?

Mask-less kids roll by

Uh-oh, guess what? They have Covid

No one quarantines.

Education History

You Check On Us…

Actual note I received – minus the student’s name.

The above note is an actual note that I received from a student on Monday. It’s sweet, and heartwarming, and was more meaningful than I think the student knew.

Let me drop it into context.

I decided to discuss the events of September 11, 2001 with my classes. I put together a mindful presentation that was geared toward their age group. Interspersed through the lesson, I told the students where I was that day, how I felt at each event, and how I and my friends reacted. I was 19 at the time of the attacks.

And, occasionally, I got emotional. It was an emotional day, and it was difficult to relive it six times for six classes. A number of students were concerned and one of them wrote me this note – cute right?

The story could end there…but I have a point to make…

Being a teacher is difficult. I’ve talked before about all the hats we have to wear and all the things we have to juggle on any given day. One of the things teachers – especially new ones – struggle with is classroom management. And it’s hard…because it can’t be taught, it has to be learned.

Any textbook, admin, or teacher blog will tell you that relationships and connections with your students are the FIRST thing you can do to be an effective teacher and to nail your classroom management.

But what does the word “relationship” mean?

Without knowing it, my student defined “relationships” for us in this note. He said “You check on us so I want to check on you.”

Yes, I am a teacher that checks on their students, I ask them how their day is, I ask them who their friends are, I try to make sure that they are seen as individual humans with goals, and dreams and failings…not just as students in my classroom.

Ok…so what?

Relationship building is more than just “checking on” students. Effective classroom management and relationships comes when students feel safe in your classroom. They need to feel safe in who they are (including who they identify as). I teach middle school – it’s pretty difficult for students to feel comfortable..because…you know…middle school.

So, how do you do it? Well, students need to know what to expect at all times in the classroom. You’ll hear this referred to as “structure.” Books will say that you should lay out what classroom expectations are, show what you’re doing that day, but again…what does “structure” mean? It’s a nebulous word that could mean a lot of things to different people.

You can even have a full list of expectations, but if you don’t follow through they are trash. Additionally, if the consequences are too harsh for the transgression it’s trash…and they’ve lost trust in you.

What does “structure” and “safety” look like? Well, I have a very specific layout that we follow in my class everyday. The kids know what to do when they come in, and they know how to transition from activity to activity. My homework is predictable, and I’ve modeled it for them. They know, absolutely know, that they will have three questions of homework every day. They know how to answer the questions and they know how those questions are graded. I don’t throw them curveballs, I don’t give them surprises, and I don’t give them homework on the weekend

Now, you may be saying…but what about RIGOR?! You know, that word that every principal holds up as a shining beacon of light guiding you to testing season. Look: We have rigor in the classroom. Because when students feel safe, it means they feel safe to try, to go further out on a limb, to give a guess that goes deeper even if they are wildly incorrect.

Because ultimately, you’ve taught them that failing is a part of learning. You’ve taught the students when they fail in your class, you’re going to check on them, and pick them up and help them start again. They trust you to do that.

And then, when you’re struggling…they’ll check on you too.