Over the past two weeks, I’ve been reflecting on the nature of racism in America. Maybe you too have read a now-viral Twitter thread about comedian Dave Chappelle’s experience talking about racism in a comedy club in New York. It’s a good thread, and one that invites people into a necessary conversation. But a different part of the story jumped out at me: Mr. Chapelle described his interaction with a police officer, in Ohio, the place he and I call home. The officer who pulled him over recognized him immediately and let him off with a warning. That officer would later go on to shoot a man who was looking at a BB gun in a Walmart — while black. Mr. Chapelle is right. He shouldn’t have to be famous to survive an encounter with the police.
I have long believed that we as adults have no more important responsibility than to provide sound leadership, supervision, direction, and protection for our children; not just for our own, but for any who may be impacted by the things we do or say. I chose to become a teacher, because I had had the good fortune of being surrounded by teachers and coaches who viewed their roles as far more than distributors of academic or athletic knowledge. They were strong, principled leaders, who were mentors, role models, and caregivers for whoever was under their supervision. These people had changed my life for the better, and I wanted to do the same for other young people.
You’d think a pond in a field would be easy to find. Especially one whose location you’ve recently scrutinized via Google Maps’ satellite view.
Everything you need to know about my neighbors can be summed up in their daughter’s name for them: The Lawn Rangers. These people love taking care of their lawn. With two giant mowers so that each can share in the process, they mow, rake, sweep, feed, spray, and generally make the rest of us look bad. They cut on the diagonal. They hunt down every stray blade of grass that stubbornly escapes the whirring wide decks of their mowers. They trim. They mulch. Their lawn, of course, is gorgeous. It is at the receiving end of a lavish amount of attention and it shows. All this is just sour grapes because my lawn will never be featured in “Lawn Beautiful” or even “Lawn Adequate.” If there ever is a publication called “How Your Lawn Shouldn’t Look” mine will be their first cover story complete with “before” photos.
As if I didn’t have enough things going on these days to discourage me …
A lot of people are disappointed about the way the government has responded to the coronavirus pandemic. Others are disenchanted because they thought scientists knew everything and now it’s clear they’re often at least as confused as the rest of us. Still others are mad at the media because you have to blame somebody.
I had the opportunity to travel across the country recently and was intrigued by how much some things have changed — and how much others have stayed the same.
Will you take a minute to read this column and consider my position, while acknowledging that we each bring our histories to any issue and those issue are complex?
Among the many responsibilities school superintendents have, two of the most important are establishing expectations for their district and trying to ensure that newly hired employees meet those expectations. This includes not only principals and teachers, but specialists like speech language therapists, school psychologists, guidance counselors, classroom aides, secretaries, bus drivers, custodians, and anyone else who comprises a school staff.
If you ever decide to do some home remodeling — and I am not for one single solitary sane second recommending that you do — here is a little piece of advice that I have arrived at the hard way. Do not, I repeat, do not, under any circumstances, even if it means moving in with your in-laws or tenting it in your back yard or exploring the comforts of life on the streets, attempt to live in the actual home that is the site of the home remodeling.