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H2O Man

(74,036 posts)
Sat Aug 20, 2022, 04:12 PM Aug 2022

Public Schools & Hurricanes

"A closed mind, like a closed room, soon becomes stuffy."
-- Rubin "Hurricane" Carter

I watched an interview with a social studies teacher from Florida. Obviously, there is an effort to white wash American history, from the giddy-up to the present. Republicans say that they don't want to make any students "feel uncomfortable."

I found myself going back in time, a half-century ago, when I was in my first year of high school. Some of my friends still laugh about how I organized a sit-in, that got the participation of 90% of all grades, for an open lunch. Since we had a fairly liberal school administration, we ended up getting a 45-minute lunch time, where we could leave school.

But what I am best remembered for was introducing my class to the case of my friend Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. My class would be, at that time, the largest to graduate from our rural, upstate school. So soon, there were about 130 students and one teacher communicating with Rubin through letters and cassette tapes.

Believe it or not -- but I swear it is true -- not all parents of 10th graders approved of their white children communicating with black inmate who had been convicted of a racist triple murder. There is also the possibility that some parents did not trust my judgement. It all started in 6th grade, when I read a John Lennon poem in my English class. But that's another story.

The teacher was soon told that the Carter connection needed to end. He understood the consequences of each of his options. We continued, and he got fired. He immediately got a job at another area school, and years later began selling wind mills for individual properties.

Rubin felt bad that this teacher was fired. Up until the end of his life, Rubin would ask me about different students that had communicated with him back then. This included a kid who told Rubin that, as he was convicted, he must be guilty, and belonged in prison. I remember Rubin responding that he respected the kid's not going along with the crowd, and encouraging him to study the legal case before making any decision.

Rubin encouraged all of our class to question everything a teacher or text book claimed to be true. One of the examples he gave to illustrate this was "Columbus discovered America." He said that this was clearly known to not be true, yet it was still being taught in schools. He said that most teachers actually appreciate when students ask questions, and that the responsibility for the best education falls upon students, teachers, and administrators.

A few years back, a young teacher at my old school called me. He had watched me debate the representatives from a large local industry about a series of toxic waste dumps they graced our area with. He asked another teacher about me, and that person noted that I had connected Carter with the school decades before. This guy taught an AP class, and asked me if I would come in to talk to his class about the Hurricane's case?

Of course, I did. I had told Rubin about it, and he was excited. He knew how important a really good education is, and like myself, understood that rigid minds were attacking public schools in various parts of the United States. We talked about this for hours. Rubin again recommended asking questions, thinking for one's self, and to "dare to dream!"

We should all be supporting public schools and teachers who teach the truth about America, both good and bad.

17 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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Public Schools & Hurricanes (Original Post) H2O Man Aug 2022 OP
KnR Hekate Aug 2022 #1
Thank you! H2O Man Aug 2022 #5
What's happening in the schools Saoirse9 Aug 2022 #2
I think it H2O Man Aug 2022 #6
Wait until after the midterms Saoirse9 Aug 2022 #13
Great post, as always Easterncedar Aug 2022 #3
Thanks! H2O Man Aug 2022 #7
Children have so much untapped potential Martin Eden Aug 2022 #4
Very good! H2O Man Aug 2022 #8
It's easy to despair these days Martin Eden Aug 2022 #15
Clearly those were pre CRT days malaise Aug 2022 #9
I remember that H2O Man Aug 2022 #10
Here's the thing Waterman malaise Aug 2022 #11
True. H2O Man Aug 2022 #12
The funny thing is that the Slobfather knew and knows malaise Aug 2022 #14
I've got an old copy of Lennon's poetry around here somewhere. panader0 Aug 2022 #16
I read one H2O Man Aug 2022 #17


(3,710 posts)
2. What's happening in the schools
Sat Aug 20, 2022, 05:56 PM
Aug 2022

especially here in Florida, is frightening.

I have to believe that if we win back the Senate we can remedy some of it but I am not even sure of that.

I can’t bear to think about it. I work at a religious school and thankfully we’re not subject to the new rules desatan has laid down. If anything he’s finding ways to get more money to schools like ours and he’s taking that money from public schools. Our school is expensive. Our robust sports program attracts talented athletes who hope to find a way out of poverty through sports scholarships. Many of our parents really struggle to make tuition even with multiple state and school scholarships.

But the kids in public schools have it so much worse.

I am old but if I wasn’t I would be leaving this place. It’s heartbreaking.

H2O Man

(74,036 posts)
6. I think it
Sun Aug 21, 2022, 12:37 PM
Aug 2022

is important that good people run for seats on school boards. I did a couple of terms, and it really isn't fun. Most community members really don't know how a BOE functions. But it is very important to do.

I'm half-way tempted to work as a substitute teacher again. I used to enjoy that. Most of the students did, too.


(2,549 posts)
3. Great post, as always
Sun Aug 21, 2022, 03:14 AM
Aug 2022

I do admire and appreciate your perspective. I wonder how you came to be such a “woke” youngster?

H2O Man

(74,036 posts)
7. Thanks!
Sun Aug 21, 2022, 12:43 PM
Aug 2022

I think being the youngest of five siblings played a role. Growing up in the 1960s and '70s, too. And boxing. I was good enough to be featured in a boxing magazine when I was 13. And a 13-year old boy isn't always noted for clear thinking! (grin) The first fight I had watched with my father & brothers featured Rubin Carter. He went to prison a few years after that. When I read some articles on his case, I thought he was innocent. So I was the first kid that wrote him. I said I would get him out of prison, and he could manage my career in the ring!

Martin Eden

(12,958 posts)
4. Children have so much untapped potential
Sun Aug 21, 2022, 08:16 AM
Aug 2022

All they need is a little tap to spark their young minds into thinking outside the narrow minded box all too often constructed by adults who never learned to think for themselves or are using our education system as a propaganda tool to further their own political ambitions.

I think the greatest failure of our society is the untapped potential of the youth of our nation. It is a grave disservice to them and to the future course of history.

What the great Frederick Douglass said in 1855 still holds true: It's easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.

(to that I would add women)

Peace, H2O Man, and thank you again for what you bring to our DU community.

H2O Man

(74,036 posts)
8. Very good!
Sun Aug 21, 2022, 12:47 PM
Aug 2022

Douglass was a brilliant human being. Expose students to his writings, and they will see the world differently.

I agree about the untapped potential of youth. There is no leader that will "save" us today .... but there are younger generations that have the very real potential to make things much better.


(270,945 posts)
9. Clearly those were pre CRT days
Sun Aug 21, 2022, 12:52 PM
Aug 2022

We should all be supporting public schools and teachers who teach the truth about America, both good and bad.

H2O Man

(74,036 posts)
10. I remember that
Sun Aug 21, 2022, 01:44 PM
Aug 2022

a lot of people weren't comfortable talking about "race" in mixed company. Of course, in the rural, upstate community I lived in -- more accurately, just outside the edge of -- there were not a lot of non-white people. But most, though definitely not all, learned that it was not only okay, but actually a good thing. Learning about the differing American experiences adds to our appreciation of our ability to work together to make a better world.

In more recent times, there are many more non-white families in our area. From simply attending school sports between different communities, I can say for certain that teaching about race relations is necessary. We hear too many ignorant parents say the stupidest things about kids playing sports, based upon the color of their skin.


(270,945 posts)
11. Here's the thing Waterman
Sun Aug 21, 2022, 02:00 PM
Aug 2022

Obama won and shattered all their myths about the superiority of any race. Rather than give all opportunities, they’d prefer a return to slavery and white supremacy. There must be no race relations, no honest discussions about the past and no questions about the goodness of evil men and women.

H2O Man

(74,036 posts)
12. True.
Sun Aug 21, 2022, 02:06 PM
Aug 2022

Trump is but one example of the hatred that they felt towards President Obama. The attempts to discredit him were extreme and pathetic -- he couldn't have earned his degree, etc, etc. President Obama's communication skills scared them.


(270,945 posts)
14. The funny thing is that the Slobfather knew and knows
Sun Aug 21, 2022, 02:14 PM
Aug 2022

that Obama is his intellectual superior and is also decidedly more made for TV than Slobby, so he set out to ‘otherize’ him. Slobby also knows that Obama has a sense of humor and he dared to make fun of Slobby. The Slobfather is racist to the core, but he is also very insecure.


(25,816 posts)
16. I've got an old copy of Lennon's poetry around here somewhere.
Sun Aug 21, 2022, 02:40 PM
Aug 2022

'In His Own Write'. I too got it in high school (class of 68) and enjoyed his oddball sense of humor,
or humour. So I was curious which poem you read 'No Flies on Frank' maybe? lol.

H2O Man

(74,036 posts)
17. I read one
Sun Aug 21, 2022, 03:26 PM
Aug 2022

that he wrote when he was 17. It was only published in Hunter Davies' book, as I recall.

I remember a time when everyone
I loved hated me
because I hated them so what
So what so fucking what
I remember a time when belly
buttons were knee high
when only shitting was dirty
and everything else clean & beautiful
I can't remember anything
without a sadness
So deep that it hardly
becomes known to me
So deep that its tears leave me a spectator
of my own STUPIDITY
And so I go rambling
on with a hey nonny
nonny nonny no

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