The Broad is Back!

April 6, 2014

Poor Education Spells Death of Freedom

“The only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over the government.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

The longer I’m back in America, the more my heart is breaking.  When I came back almost seven years ago now, I was frankly shocked by the difference in the freshmen I started to teach. Their skills were worse; their knowledge base was worse; and their critical thinking skills were practically non-existent. I was teaching the same demographic I had taught before I left, so that wasn’t a factor.

 

The bulk of my teaching is at urban community colleges, but since I’ve been back I’ve taught at elite schools and middle ranked private and state schools as well.  The only differences I see are classroom skills levels, or in some cases, the ability to quickly adapt classroom skills.

 

 

I am slowly and surely becoming convinced that liberty is at stake here: my students’ as well as my country’s.  I have written about this before, so obviously this is pressing on me.  I don’t actually have time to write now.  I have one week left until spring break, and I have much to accomplish before then. But I think during that break I will take the time to work out some of my ideas on this blog.

 

 

But in the meantime, look to your children’s education. Look to your own education. Who is behind educational reform? If you say “government” or “the overly strong federal government” please look again.

 

 

Look to your sources of information about what’s going on in the United States. Look beyond the razzle dazzle of partisan politics, the rhetoric of Left and Right. Most of that is absolutely meaningless.

 

 

We the people, a hackneyed phrase, perhaps, but we the people have got to rise up and let our voices be heard. So many people try to argue that “they” are trying to make America a “godless country”. That will never happen, because right now, the mightiest god worshiped here in Mammon.

December 1, 2013

Fight the Ignorance: World AIDS Day 2013

Filed under: New Broads — by maggiec @ 10:17 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Nothing drives me crazier than willful ignorance, and one social issue I hear more willful ignorance about than just about any other area is AIDS and AIDS awareness.  I teach the very groups that are disproportionately impacted in the US–young Black and Hispanic men. To hear what they have to say about HIV status, AIDS and homosexuality boils my brain. Ignorance in this instance is not bliss. It can kill.

Perhaps it’s a defense mechanism. I’ve had too many students lose a parent or other close relative to AIDS (though one parent lost to AIDS is too many). It’s not like many don’t see the effects first hand in their neighborhoods. But while seeing my friends and loved ones ravished by the disease spurred me on to action, it seems to take them more into denial than anything else.

They aren’t the only ones I hear ignorance from, but they are the groups I spend the most time with day to day. They are the ones I’m invested in on so many levels.  But I say the same to all groups.

So we need to continue to educate, continue to have the uncomfortable conversations.  Maybe people will start to listen if only to shut us up.

And AIDS is not just a health problem here in the US. In fact, we get off relatively lightly due to our wealth and public health education. But worldwide, 700 babies are born HIV+ a day, mostly in developing nations where this status is too often a death sentence. For me, this is unacceptable.  Through efforts, this number is going down every year, but not quickly enough.

While I support the fight of organizations like (RED), I also continue to educate folks here.  It wasn’t easy the first time I talked about protection with a group of students.

The first time I did it, World AIDS Day 1989, I closed my classroom door, told the students what day it was, said, “Whatever you say stays in the room. Any questions?” I was overwhelmed by questions, fears, ignorance. But it was one of the best classes I ever had, and I still remember that class as clearly as if it were yesterday.  I would do the same thing in every class, eventually using Magic Johnson’s film Time Out, every year until 1998. By then, there was plenty of information available to students elsewhere, so I would just announce the day at the beginning of class and see if anything grew out of that.

And what do I still tell people?

  1. Know your status. It’s a simple test. Don’t be afraid or ashamed. Knowing is always better than not knowing. Early detection can change your outcome.
  2. Limit your number of sexual partners.  The more is not at all the merrier in some instances.
  3. Know your partner’s status and sexual history (discussion is key–if you can’t have an open discussion with someone, it’s probably best not to be having sex yet)
  4. Use latex condoms to help fight the spread of the HIV virus (and all the other nasty STDs that are rampant, as well) Use them for every contact, and learn how to use them correctly. Use only water based lubricant.
  5. Avoid having sex while drunk or high (you can see where this one is problematic)
  6. Don’t share needles or other drug equipment
  7. And don’t judge people for their HIV status, their lifestyle, their choices.  People make poor choices sometimes (like sharing needles or having sex with strangers), but that doesn’t make them bad people.

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