Category Archives: education news

No debate on Holocaust

The dust-up that erupted the other day over that North Texas public educator/nitwit who suggested that teachers ought to provide “opposing views” on the Holocaust has brought to mind this thought: Just who out there actually espouses any doubt over what occurred during World War II?

I know the answer: It’s the right-wing crackpot wing of the great divide.

Gina Peddy is a director of curriculum for the Carroll Independent School District. She was overheard telling teachers that they need to provide instruction that includes those who might question whether the Holocaust actually happened.

Well … it did. It happened. Adolf Hitler and his Nazi henchmen sought to eliminate Jews from Europe. They killed as many as 7 million Jews during World War II.

There is no legitimate “opposing view” to the historical fact of what occurred.

Peddy’s employers at Carroll ISD were quick to disavow what was overheard in that teachers’ meeting. I don’t know what they’re going to do about Peddy and whether she should stay employed by the district. That is their call; my own view is that she needs to go.

As for any serious denial of what transpired at Hitler’s grimy hands, there isn’t any to be discussed.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Teachers deserve our honor and respect

My wife and I live one block from an elementary school in Princeton, Texas and each day when we take our stroll through the ‘hood, we see evidence of great things happening with the children who go there each day.

I want to salute the men and women who serve those children, their parents and, yes, the rest of us who don’t have kids attending that particular school or even in the school district where we live. What I witness often are teachers interacting joyfully with their students, who interact with equal amounts of joy with the teachers.

I know it’s a little thing. Then again, it’s not so little, particularly if the child gets too little joy when he or she goes home at the end of the day.

Some years ago I took a turn as a substitute teacher in Amarillo, where my wife and I lived before we relocated to Princeton. It was an eye-opening experience for me. I learned one thing about myself right away from that stint: I am not wired to teach children. 

More to the point is that I am not wired to take the abuse that kids dish out to subs who fill in for the regular teachers. Yes, I got a form of abuse from those kids. They were high schoolers. I won’t tell you which high school; just know that it was one of the public HS’s in Amarillo.

I am not casting aspersions on a particular generation of children, or on the community where we lived, or on the school system. It’s just the way it is and the way it has always been since the beginning of recorded human history. Kids look for ways to game the system in their favor. Their “victims” are their elders. I did some of it myself when I was that age.

My experience as a substitute teacher filled me with admiration for those who choose that profession. I also am amazed at those full-time substitute teachers who answer the call to report for work wherever the school district needs them.

The good ones are among the most special human beings I can imagine.

I salute you.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Why the no-mask mandate?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am willing to admit that there are a lot of things in this cold, cruel world I do not  understand.

One of those things is the nutty notion that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has embraced by declaring that only he can tell local governments how to react to the surge in infection from the COVID pandemic and its associated variants.

Abbott issued an executive order that bans school districts and other governmental jurisdictions from issuing mandates requiring masks indoors.

Several large independent public school districts — starting with Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and Houston — have defied the governor. They have ordered everyone in their buildings to mask up. To which I say, “Good for you!”

My 8-year-old granddaughter started school today in Allen. The Allen Independent School District hasn’t followed the lead set by its bigger district neighbors in Dallas and Fort Worth. The kids aren’t being told they must wear masks while sitting in class, or walking into the cafeteria, or goofing off with their friends in the hall.

I have to ask: What in the name of preventive measures is Abbott thinking when he issues those no-can-do orders to local jurisdictions?

I used to talk occasionally to Gov. Abbott when he was a mere Texas Supreme Court justice and later state attorney general. He ran for governor the first time after I left the daily journalism world, so I haven’t had a ringside seat to watch his morphing from a reasonable Republican into some sort of cultist who follows the example set by the 45th POTUS.

I am left merely to shake my head in disbelief and amazement that he has put our children’s health in peril — and that includes my precious granddaughter — by telling school systems they are forbidden from taking measures they believe will save lives.

Greg Abbott is acting like a madman!

DISD boss plays it right

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The limb on which I will climb may be about to splinter and break, but I’ll venture out there anyway.

Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, in issuing his mask-wearing order for all students, teachers, staff and visitors to the public school system, is playing a sound political hand.

He is defying an order from Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott that prohibits local officials such as Hinojosa from issuing such directives. Hinojosa appears to be ignoring that edict from Austin, even though we are fighting a surge in infections from the Delta variant spawned by that damn pandemic.

Why? Because the voting constituency he serves — the parents of the students and the teachers who work in DISD — are likely to oppose Gov. Abbott’s ham-handed approach to telling school districts what they can and cannot do.

Were the superintendent in charge of a district parked in the middle of a rock-ribbed Republican-leaning county, such as, oh, Collin County (where I live), he might not have the guts to do what he did today in issuing the order in a district that sits primarily inside Dallas County (which by the way voted overwhelmingly for President Biden in the 2020 presidential election); Dallas County also voted by large margins for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

Do you get my drift here?

Thus, it is with sadness that I will probably have to wait forever for other school district chieftains to follow Superintendent Hinojosa’s lead in demonstrating courage in our national fight against the COVID pandemic.

Student gets diploma after breaking the rules

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Ever Lopez has his high school diploma.

He got it today after a weekend story raised a ruckus over the North Carolina high school’s decision to keep the diploma from going to the student who violated a dress code policy during the commencement ceremony.

The story grew some wings. From my standpoint, Lopez made a mistake and he should have been sanctioned by the school.

Lopez sought to walk across a commencement stage at Asheboro, N.C., wearing a Mexican flag draped over his graduation gown. He wanted to express his pride in his heritage, as he and his parents emigrated to the United States from Mexico. Fine … except for this little thing: School policy prohibits students from covering their gowns in that manner.

Lopez could have honored his birth nation with a emblem plastered on his mortar board; Asheboro school district policy allows that. Lopez, though, sought to take it a step further.

Student gets diploma after controversy erupts over wearing Mexican flag at graduation – ABC News (go.com)

He walked across the stage, reached for his diploma but an assistant principal pulled it back.

Lopez and his parents have demanded an apology from the school district. Mom and Dad want to get to the bottom of the kerfuffle. My question is this: What the heck for?

The kid flouted a longstanding school district policy that didn’t have anything to do with the Mexican flag. It had everything to do with a policy that required all the graduating students to present a  uniform appearance during their commencement ceremony.

Why is that so difficult to understand?

Well, it’s not difficult. Ever Lopez sought to make some sort of statement. Maybe he just wanted to defy authority.

Memo to Ever Lopez: That kind of strategy ain’t gonna work when he launches his career in whatever field of employment he chooses. Someone sets the rules; you follow them or you’re out.

GOP can’t face truth?

(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The TV cameras didn’t allow us to watch the members of the U.S. Senate jury that heard the arguments presented by the House of Reps’ managers prosecuting the case against Donald J. Trump.

The managers wrapped up their presentation today in the second impeachment trial of Trump, who is accused of inciting an insurrection. It occurred on Jan. 6. The mob stormed Capitol Hill seeking to prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election results.

Some reporting from the Senate, though, takes me back to something I witnessed in early 2019 in Amarillo, while covering a school board meeting. I’ll get to that in a second.

The Senate reporting tells us how Republican senators looked away from the hideous video of the riot presented by the House managers. They were seen doodling on note pads, leaving the Senate altogether, looking away, not paying attention to what senators were asked to watch. Why is that? They appear to be hiding from the reality of the ghastly insurrection for which Donald Trump stands accused of inciting.

In January 2019, my wife and I traveled back to Amarillo — where we lived for 23 years — to visit our son. The Amarillo public school district’s board was meeting one night. The board had just received a resignation letter from a high school girls volleyball coach, Kori Clements, who accused one of the school trustees of bullying her and of interfering in her coaching decisions. The trustee’s daughter played on the high school team and she believed the coach wasn’t giving her little darlin’ enough playing time.

The school board had a public hearing one evening. Residents were invited to speak to the board about the coach’s resignation, which caused quite an uproar in the community.

Every one of the residents who spoke to the board scolded them for the way the coach was treated. They admonished the trustee in question — Renee McCown, who has since resigned — for her conduct in pressuring the coach, forcing her to resign from a vaunted high school athletic program.

Where am I going with this? McCown never looked up from whatever she was looking at while her bosses — the taxpayers — were scolding her; nor did her board colleagues. They all should have looked them in the eye. I thought at the time it was a disgraceful display of arrogance. And I said so.

Trustees should have looked at those who scolded them | High Plains Blogger

The same sort of arrogance played out in the Senate as GOP senators didn’t bother to look at the horror that an ex-president wrought with his inciteful rhetoric.

Bill takes aim at in-state tuition

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A couple of North Texas freshmen legislators don’t like the idea of allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities.

I believe they are mistaken if they think the state is going to reap a reward by making it difficult for young Texas residents to achieve higher education degrees.

State Reps. Bryan Slaton of Royse City and Jeff Cason of Bedford — both Republicans — have proposed a bill that would allow colleges to determine a student’s residence and decide whether they qualify for in-state tuition.

I will interject that two other Texas Republican politicians of considerable note — Govs. George W. Bush and Rick Perry — endorsed the idea of allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition. Why? Because both of them recognized the value that college educations bring to the state, even when some of its residents lack the necessary immigration documents.

Bush, Perry are right about in-state tuition issue | High Plains Blogger

I don’t know what Gov. Greg Abbott would do with a bill if it reaches his desk. I am wishing he would veto it.

This legislation falls into the “heartless” category of lawmaking. It seeks to target Texas residents who are seeking to improve their circumstance by attending higher education institutions. Given that they do reside in Texas, they have — in my humble estimation — earned the right to attend these schools as Texas residents.

The Texas Tribune reported: “Texans’ tax dollars should not be used to reward and encourage illegal immigration to our state and nation,” Cason said in a statement.

Texas lawmakers want to block in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants | The Texas Tribune

Maybe I am slow on the uptake, but I am having a bit of difficulty understanding how allowing these students to pay in-state tuition constitutes a Texas taxpayer subsidy, or how it encourages “illegal immigration to our state and nation.”

President Biden already has restored the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program for those undocumented immigrants who were brought here by their parents. Many of those DACA recipients are enrolled in Texas public colleges and universities. They might be deemed unable to continue their education if Slaton and Cason’s bill becomes law.

This law deserves the fate that a 2019 effort met. It failed to come out of the House Higher Education Committee. I hope this notion withers and dies, too.

An ed secretary with knowledge of public schools!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Imagine that, if you dare.

President-elect Joe Biden has presented to the nation a nominee for education secretary with actual knowledge, experience and appreciation for public education. Let this soak in for a moment.

Connecticut education commissioner Miguel Cardona is Biden’s pick to lead the U.S. Department of Education. Cardona would replace Betsy DeVos, who — to be charitable — knows nothing about the public school system she was nominated to lead in 2017.

Betsy DeVos for ed secretary? No way! | High Plains Blogger

DeVos was a do-nothing education secretary who was educated herself in private schools, who sent her own children to private schools and who has been a champion of the movement to take public money out of our public school system and directing it to private schools.

Cardona at the very least has hands-on experience as a public school student, as a public school educator and as head of a statewide public education system.

I welcome this nomination.

Still stewing over the ‘Dr. Biden’ dust-up

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I admit to being a bit miffed over an essay that appeared in the Wall Street Journal that takes Jill Biden to task for her generous use of the honorific term “Dr.” in front of her name.

The author of the piece refers to her as “Jill” and “Kiddo,” the latter term I cannot imagine him ever using while referring to a man. But the future first lady was fair game, I suppose, for the writer and for the editors of what I consider to be one of America’s great newspapers.

I watched Biden and her husband, the president-elect, last night on “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert. Colbert asked her about the controversy and she brought up the “Kiddo” comment with something of a pained expression on her face. She didn’t belabor the content of the op-ed column, other than to take offense at the sexist nature of the criticism.

She kept her day job as an educator while serving as second lady during Joe Biden’s vice presidency and hinted that she will do so again once she becomes the nation’s first lady. Jill Biden once said that teaching young people isn’t just what she does, it is “who I am.”

She is well-educated, having earned a doctorate in education from the University of Delaware. Suffice to say, moreover, that she is far from the first doctorate-level academician to use the “Dr.” term in front of his or her name.

If she wants to call herself “Dr. Biden,” well … that’s OK with me.

School board betrays its constituents

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A North Texas public school board of trustees that is charged with setting policy for educating public school students has just failed an exam that truly doesn’t pass the so-called “smell test.”

The Lancaster Independent School District board is offering an abject lesson on how not to conduct public business. Other local governing boards need to listen up and pay close attention.

The Lancaster ISD board offered Superintendent Elijah Granger a new five-year contract worth $1.6 million and then bought him out five days later. That’s not the worst of it.

Oh, no. The worst is that the board, which bought him out with a 4-3 vote, isn’t disclosing the details of the maneuver. The three trustees don’t know the details. Nor does the public. No one knows how much money the public school district is shelling out to buy Granger’s contract.

I emphasize the word “public” because the public deserves to know the details, not to mention the three board members who dissented from the buyout vote.

As the Dallas Morning News said in an editorial published Wednesday, “There is no other way to look at this than a betrayal of parents, taxpayers and the trustees who were shut out from access to relevant information.”

One of the dissenting trustees, Marion Hamilton, sought to see the separation agreement, but was denied. That is outrageous!

School board members have declined to discuss the details of the buyout. There hasn’t been an explanation of why they voted essentially to fire the superintendent … not to mention explain why it would buy him out so soon after agreeing to the expensive contract. What in the world did he do from the contract signing and the separation? The public needs to know the details.

There’s a serious lesson to be learned here. I would hope all school districts, city councils or other governing bodies entrusted with the power to hire and fire government administrators would take notice of the clusterfu** being played out in Lancaster, Texas.

This ain’t good, folks. You have failed a key test of leadership … and to think you still set policy that establishes the education of public school students.

Shameful.