I do believe that many people now understand that reading is fundamental. Learning how to break down words in order to pronounce them correctly is so very basic. Carver’s premier high school English teacher, Ms. B.T. Webb, drilled all of this into your head. You were not going to get by her staunch insistence that you speak well and pronounce words as they were meant to be pronounced; pause when there was a comma; and have some inflection in your voice when reading aloud.
Ms. Webb is surely spinning in her grave if she can see or hear the current occupant of the White House read the teleprompter. There is no voice modulation. It is flat, hollow and dull. Words are mispronounced and sentences are continuously repeated. It is tortuous to witness as you hope that some important information will be revealed. It does not help that he did not write the words, nor does he believe what he is reading in the latest changes in his rhetoric about the coronavirus and the upcoming convention.
I am a huge proponent of education. Kindergarten through 12th grade provides the foundation for things yet to come in a young person’s life. Teachers live on in the lives of those whom they taught during those years. I know computers and their offspring have produced a different kind of learning. I respond by saying that reading, writing and mathematics still form a necessary basis for whatever choice a young person makes for a lifetime career.
A good, decent, basic education doesn’t mean preparation for a four-year college experience. I see great value in the trades. When your automobile refused to cooperate, you did not seek out a doctor or a lawyer. When your air conditioning refused to let you be comfortable in the Southern heat, I doubt that my law degree could help you. What if your plumbing decided that it did not care if your home was flooded, or that you could not access the water that you pay dearly for?
I could give you a litany of those things that you know that you have experienced. I am not the only one; these things stay in my mind because two different people who came to my rescue talked to me about how tradespeople seem to be given no respect for what they do. One was Caucasian and the other was African American. They were smart, thoughtful men.
Educators, elected officials and parents are faced with some difficult choices. Choosing a trade does not forego the need for a basic, good education. You must be able to communicate well. I have to be able to read the bill that you leave me.
There is a school crisis, virtual or in person. It is one of the worst decisions that anyone would have to make. Teachers, school employees and children all have the right to be safe. During this pandemic, what happens in a school does not stay there. It is carried to the rest of the family. The coronavirus does not discriminate when it comes to finding a host.
The debate over returning to school or working on the job site or at home, closing businesses, job losses, overruns on the health care industry and fear over the future rages on. However angry or frustrated you become, place the blame where it belongs. The United States would not be in this hideous position if in January or February of this year, action had been taken based upon science and the great disease specialist that America has. If this disease had not been tagged a “Democratic hoax” or “fake news,” and literally ignored for months, we would be ahead of the curve.
With the demand to open schools and the economy at any cost, where do the administration proponents of this concept send their children to school? Most are in upscale private schools, or the parents can afford private tutoring. Education is critical. With short cutting of words in tests and other communications, many people (not just children) cannot spell, nor can they read. What happened to reading labs? A 6-year-old child should already know how to read upon entering first grade. Suffice it to say that my contemporaries could read when we started first grade. Ms. Ethel Mae’s Kindergarten ensured that we could read, write and spell. That was our Head Start program.
The sad part about all of the “fully open the schools,” “fully open the economy” and “send federal troops without a plan to major cities,” they are born of an attempt to bolster ratings in the polls. No feel for anybody or anything, just a need for a rating increase. Let’s appeal to the worst in our base.
One month ago, a large, no-mask rally was demanded. There was no call for social distancing. Why the change? Just face the truth.
Elaine Harris Spearman, Esq., is president of the Etowah County (Gadsden) branch of the NAACP.