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Charlottesville: How Did We Get Here?

Posted by on in Leadership
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HOw did we get

Charlottesville

God Bless America, Land of Difference

Bigotry, hate, violence, is it possible to find common ground for real dialogue when the country feels like it has gone mad at the moment?

Violence did indeed break out at today’s White Nationalist Protest. Not surprising after the disgusting images I saw on Twitter last evening, late into the night, ahead of news media. It was inevitable. I followed Twitter threads until 2 a.m., in disbelief.

As of this missive, nineteen injured, one deceased. A state of emergency, currently called by the Governor Of Virginia and city officials, bringing in National Guard. Am I imagining this? 2017?

Chants, including “Blood and Soil.” Jews will not replace us. You will not replace us.” Repugnant. We cannot allow this. Snaking lines of tiki torches, vile signs, violence. Displaced anger. I wish Dr. King was here to lead us out of the darkness and into the light.

Started over removal of a Confederate Statue, or so we thought, free speech at odds with common sense emotions not leading to unmitigated violence. Does the right to protest immediately guarantee horrendous clashes among protestors and counter protestors, protected by law? What happened to the greater good of race relations espoused and modeled by Dr. King, Ghandi and many other great leaders?

There comes a time when we must all take a stand for what’s right and true. That time is now. I see no point in reviewing all that happened last night or today. By now, you have caught up one way or another.

And the history we witnessed is not pretty. And it’s not fake news. People injured and killed, Americans raging at other in the night and in the day. No hoods, faces openly staring back at us, Americans, brothers and sisters, no more.

Years from now, of all the despicable rhetoric spewed recently, whether on social media, or elsewhere, in real time, will we ask “how in the world did they let it happen?” Sounds familiar, just like what happened in Germany, maybe?

Our heads are spinning from the constant bombardment of negativity in a time we preach love, mindfulness, being a Joyful leader in our schoolrooms. We write and model positive mindsets, no bullying and getting along with one another as a major needed skill for success in future, ever changing careers.

We teach grit, resilience, never giving up. That there is no failure, only feedback and we make mid-course corrections at any time, as needed.

Well that time is now, and I don’t mean just about schools. Look at any Twitter page and the majority are filled with positivity, happy children learning in varied classrooms, with great fervor, not wanting school days to end. That school is a party, the best celebration in town.

And hungry children are fed, clothed and cared for by each school community, with cultures supporting building capacity.

Never fully funded, schools do an amazing job preparing their kids with the sense of belonging, caring for each other, understanding differences make us special.

Our nation is a nation of immigrants. My family originally came from Latvia, Russia and Germany. And yes, I had family who died at Auschwitz. So let’s just say I, too have experienced the victimization of mind blowing, ignorant, coarse hatred because of my religion at various times in my life. “Funny, you don’t look Jewish.”

My mother warned me against marrying a Christian man of German descent, yet despite his mother, a real work, who lived to 94, we had a blissful marriage, never dwelling on our differences, only similarities.

When I was in high school I went to a Jewish school, well at least mostly, where the Jewish kids went. For high school prom we could not attend one of the big hotels because Jews were not allowed. In college I could not get into any sorority other than the Jewish one.

My husband William was raised Christian but we never had any issues raising our four children. My point is, hating anyone who is Jewish by birth, by differences of any sort, we miss what being an American is.

We are a melting pot. You should sit at our extended family table. Everyone came from somewhere else originally. We look different, talk differently, have different beliefs, but hate can’t be a trait we espouse as a nation.  

What in the world is going on? Where did all this hate come from? Was I on another planet? What are the implications for educators, on the nation’s frontlines with children every day? What kind of curriculum do we teach at every grade level to counter the extreme hate currently evidenced, truly out of our control and purview.

How do we discuss and explain on #CelebrateMonday the series of events on a college campus’ sacred ground, the importance of a long past symbol, the Civil war maybe happening again, to an extent. Oh, my.

One day we hear about Russia dismissing our ambassadors, with Russia, Korea, Venezuela swirling in the background.

The wall, rounding up immigrants, transgender military ban etc. not just hovering but actively dismantling our American way of life every single day, one way or another.

We see afterschool and nutrition programs being cut, and attack on our exemplary public school system, teachers leaving the profession due to lack of respect, constant useless testing and simple burn out.  Amazing administrators and teachers do remarkable work under constant Reptilian threat. Unacceptable. I laud our profession.

As a nation, we’re decoyed by intense, cray cray subject matter guaranteed to garner our interest, watching our nation’s holy grails chipped away, maybe book burning next. Children of poverty are expected to excel with grit; teachers are creating miracles each day.

Teachers and communities step in, support and fund the unfunded. Class sizes matter. Teachers need adequate supplies and capability to teach without interference. And don’t start me on De Vos.

I flipped news on recently one night and saw a story about our Ambassadors in Cuba slammed by mystery audio waves affecting their brains. Are we in an Orwellian alter universe right now? Have we turned into the movie Idiocracy by no fault of our own?

How did it happen? You tell me. I just watched and listened. I wrote about Henry’s Story In “Hometown Inclusion Hero”, I talked about “Title IX”, wrote about bullies and suspensions in “Butter Battle”.  And best of all, “Everybody Cooks Rice.” It was not enough. I commit to step up to the plate.

Even shared my concern about our Supreme Court and transgender kids’ toilets. But I am clueless tonight how to fix this mess and need your help.

It’s great to write and focus on the positive, but it’s time to stand up and shout out. “No More.”

 I never dreamed I would be writing such a personal blog post tonight. How do I dare not? How do I sleep later, a restful sleep with visions of torches lined up on a college campus, holders yelling “Blood and Soil!” Please look this up in Wikipedia. Nazi references are clearly there. How terrifying.  

America. Now. Not the 30’s again. “And then they came for me.”

I implore Twitter leaders to stand up and speak out against what happened the past two days. It must not happen again. It cannot.

Thank you, BAM for providing this platform for us to brainstorm our best response as a united group of educators, stakeholders in our nations’ well being and returning civility to the collegial conversation, ending anger and violence we witness.

Spewing hate and discord is certainly not what we have been modeling and teaching in our schools.

There are no disabilities, only capabilities. What religion does it matter as long as we believe in something other than a world of hate? Love is where the action is. Loving one another, cherishing, our differences which bind us as one people.

Emma Lazarus gave us the gift of love when she penned “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses Yearning To be Free. “ I thought we all believed that.  Guess not. Way worse stuff going on than I wanted to admit.

Last night I had been watching The Great British Baking show, laughing at the fact I don’t bake. Decided to go up and read for awhile, opened mac. There it was, report after report of unexpected violence on a college campus, not sure whether this was about the Confederacy, KKK, fake news, or what the heck, could this possibly be America in 2017?

No media outlets had picked up this blazing story of guys carrying tiki torches, (how tacky), chanting “Blood and Soil”, cursing Jews, immigrants, people of color, anyone different than white.

Did Make America Great Again really mean Making America White again? For goodness sakes, what about Rosa Parks, Dr. King, all our heroes and sheroes who sacrificed so much for our country.

Our differences make us unique, stabilize us, offer a plethora of beautiful opportunities to learn, share and grow as one people. We are not divided. We are one.

I am not taking sides or making political statements tonight. I simply want to share my sorrow at the turn of events in our country, coming not slowly, but rapidly.

I would prefer to be writing a sweet, frothy back to school post, which is what I had intended. Instead I find myself sleep deprived, deeply confused, shocked to the core witnessing the heinous acts as unmitigated anger manifested in violence.

How can we, as people of good conscience not stand up and speak out? I would like to see each and every teacher, administrator Twitter chat this week select the topic of #Charlottesville. With our #PLN standing behind us, as a collective force we have power to turn this around. Schools filled with love counter hate. More than ever, we are all leaders, including parents and our local communities.

We must immediatlely contact our representatives who seem to be clueless or spineless at the moment, not all, of course. Thank you to the courageous politicians who represent our interests, political party not mattering, adherence to basic common decency and humanity is what counts.

A time for unity necessitates every single person, every American to denounce this untoward, cowardly, demeaning, threatening behavior whether on a college campus, in a school or the larger community.

Churches, mosques, synagogues are a great place to start, book clubs, online study groups, our counselors, superintendents, school boards, in short, everybody in our collaborative communities must be involved with fervor and genuine commitment. This cowardly behavior is not going to extinction by ignoring it. No way.

Hope. It is always about hope. It cannot happen again. Not here. Not now. It is time for a united, collective vision not just of excellence, but man’s humanity to man, or whatever gender designation we choose in our free country.

As educators we must all speak out, loudly and clearly with sure and steady voices. We must ensure safe and orderly school environments, cultures of love, forgiveness, empathy and belief in a better world for all.

Leaving footprints on your reading hearts, Rita

God Bless America.

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Modeling the art and craft of teaching reading for 46 years, Mrs. Wirtz taught language arts, speech and reading at all levels preschool-adult, including penal. She served as Pre-school and K-6 Principal. Rita was also a Curriculum Consultant, ESEA, Title I Program Evaluator and literacy trainer. At the university level she taught school administration in the Bilingual Cohort at CSUS and National University, Sacto. Mrs. Wirtz also taught all reading courses for Chapman University for many years in Sacramento and Placerville, Ca., and mentored student teachers. On the national level she was a well known motivational Keynote Speaker and Seminar Leader. Most importantly, Rita walked the talk, teaching with teachers in more than 500 K-12 and special needs classrooms. Rita authored books, publications and Pre- YouTube, videos were filmed by San Diego County Office of Education. Calif. ASCD authored companion book guides, and Calif. school districts correlated her basic skills instruction with State Standards. Mrs. Wirtz' newest book is Reading Champs! Teaching Reading Made Easy, a review of the basic building blocks of English and Reading. Rita is currently teaching in a multi-age, fully incuded preschool, ages 2-8. Find Mrs. Wirtz on Twitter @RitaWirtz, Facebook and website- www.ritawirtz.com.

  • Guest
    Janice Williams Sunday, 13 August 2017

    Beautifully written Rita. You are right, teachers can make a big difference in the moral molding of future generations. Janice W.

  • Rita Wirtz |  @RitaWirtz
    Rita Wirtz | @RitaWirtz Monday, 14 August 2017

    Thank you, Janice.

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