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Last Week the Education World Changed, But...

Posted by on in UNward!
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BuckleUP

Wow! It wasn't a Dream. Betsy DeVos and US Secretary of Education are now synonyms.

When DeVos closed her first staff meeting at the Department of Education, she ended with a very Trumpian phrase - “Be bold, think big...”

Can you feel it?  The gale force winds of change have started to blow. It looks like we're all about to live through a blizzard of historic events. 

To um, "celebrate" we've geared up to document this unprecedented pivot for our grandchildren, future anthropologists, and life forms on other planets who are wondering what the hell is going on down here?

We begin with a new channel…

TrumpED:

TrumpED is a new show that will follow the twists and turns of being an educator during the big, bold, Trump/DeVos Administration. 

As you know, the President started changing the education narrative long before he had the power to change the drapes in the Oval Office. Will Trump and DeVos bring the disruptive change to our education system that some fear and others want? Or will education prove to be the one undisruptable sector of American culture?

We were looking for clues during her maiden voyage with the DOE team she will lead.  Would they greet her with polite golf claps, an enthusiastic welcome, or petrified silence?  I watched the live stream while writing this piece and DeVos actually got a standing ovation.  Well, it was a standup meeting, so every group applause became a standing O. But, the clapping that followed her final comments was very robust. So either the staff was just thrilled that the photo op was over, or they truly appreciated her comments. (See it here

What we know for sure is that educators from Washington D.C. to Washington state were watching for hints about which way this plane is headed, how fast it’s moving, and whether Betsy DeVos has the chops to fly this beast.

Whatever the flight plan, we’ll be along for the ride, covering the trip from take-off to touch down on TrumpED. So join us weekly to hear Patrick Riccards, other BAM Radio hosts, educators, administrators, and random strangers share their thoughts on the practical impact of the Trump Devos led Department of Education.

ESL:  Education as a Second Language

EdWords’ bloggers like Sean Thom, Oskar Cymerman, Jon Harper, and Neil Gupta have already begun to share their courageous interpretations about the road ahead.  We ‘re looking forward to more of their riveting reflections and words of encouragement.

On a personal note… I avoid blogging unless I can fool myself into believing I really have something to add to the discussion. But over the last three weeks, I've drafted (but not published) more that 56 blog posts. That’s more than I’ve even considered writing in last three years. What’s going on here?

For reasons we've yet to figure out, President Trump and Betsy DeVos seem to speak a version of education that requires translation, commentary and massive doses of sedatives to comprehend.

Deciphering the vocabulary, grammar and syntax of this new education language is so traumatic that it’s impacting our collective mental health. Whether you are hopeful about the new leadership or despise them— are from a blue state or a red state--we’re all being driven to a state of insanity.

According to a recent Market Watch story, visits to therapists are up 150% and people who were already seeing shrinks are extending their stays.  We’re all emotionally hung up on politics, says Nancy Molitor, a professor of psychology at Northwestern. Nancy goes on to say that she’s never seen anything like this.  “The uncertainty and change, protests, animosity on social media, it’s all creating an uptick in anxiety,” says Beverly Hills psychologist Fran Walfish.

So it turns out that I’m blogging more frequently for a very good cause. ‘Cause writing about this insanity is less expensive than therapy, and more cathartic than setting my hair on fire and howling at the moon.

Which brings us to the only rational conclusion.

Find the Funny or Die

I’ve been thinking deeply about how to manage the debilitating doses of gut-wrenching dissonance that have become part of our daily lives.   I’m convinced that the only way to survive the division and derision is through levity.

The rationale is simple.  Yes, we’re facing serious times and serious challenges, but none of this matters if you’re dead.  So please speak out, stand up, and push back when necessary. Take our education challenges seriously, but keep it in perspective.

Need some help?  Take a tip from “no drama” Obama. Few people have a deeper understanding of what’s at stake than the man who proposed and secured the biggest financial commitment to education in the history of our nation. 

He’s invested just like we are. He wants to see a better world for the next generation just like we do. But as many of us spent the day digging a deeper divide between us, he was wind surfing in the Caribbean, rocking a smile from ear to ear.

Moral of the story? The flight ahead may be turbulent.  You may hate the cramped seats, despise the rude guy sitting next to you, and feel trapped in this spot for the next four hours.  But remember, this too will pass and pass much easier, if we maintain our sense of humor and find ways to enjoy the ride.

So Buckle Up!

Ladies and gentlemen, Captain DeVos has turned on the Fasten Seat Belt sign. Please make sure your belt is fastened low and tightly around your waist. If you haven’t already done so, please stow any baggage you carried on from the divisive senate confirmation hearings securely under the seat in front of you.

In the "unlikely" event of an emergency, it's even more unlikely that an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. Your best bet is to immediately turn to whichever media you’ve confirmed are totally unbiased.  They will tell you exactly where to go and what to do. 

In the interim, stay calm, keep breathing, stay hopeful!

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I'm the executive producer of BAM Radio Network, which means I get to eat, sleep and drink education talk radio. Over the last 10 years, I've been a fly on the wall in over 4,500 discussions between some of the most thoughtful, passionate and fascinating educators in the nation. On these pages I share the most important lessons I've learned from them, along with an occasional rogue insight of my own. BACKGROUND: I am a 25-year veteran of the media. Over those two-and-a-half decades, I had the opportunity to author four books; write for The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Times; and spent three years as a popular radio talk show host on KIEV in Los Angeles. I worked for seven years as an "on air" political commentator and co-hosted the Emmy Award-winning program Life and Times on PBS television. I eventually moved on to become a business reporter at KTLA in Hollywood. Owing to some great mentors, some good timing and perhaps a shortage of available talent, I managed to pick up five Emmy nominations and one Emmy Award along the way. Oh by the way, I went to Harvard. Well … actually, I was invited to speak there once, but I really learned a lot from the experience. :)

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Guest Monday, 22 May 2017