Mom’s tree topper

In the fuzzy foreground you can see one of my Mother’s paper mache, Christmas, tree toppers. Just after my college years she started making very popular Christmas tree ornaments for the little boutique, Harpies Bazaar, she was a part owner of in Mankato. My parents are in a picture on the wall behind the little Christmas scene I just put up in my attic office. Its a little artificial tree full of and surrounded by my Mother’s ornaments, the ones that don’t fit downstairs. Some of my earliest memories of Mom were of her teaching my fourth grade classmates how to make paper mache puppets. The teacher’s husband even made a small puppet theater and I remember getting laughs from my classmates by adlibbing for the puppets while I was behind its curtain.

I bought the faux tree when Mom was in dementia care and decorated it each year until her death. She died just before Christmas 2015 and I got to her room in time to begin singing a family Christmas favorite,”Good King Wenceslas.” She breathed her last breath before the first stanza was finished.

Sorry, gotta go. I have a funeral to attend. Its for one of the fellows at my church who always loved to give razz about my snow sculptures before they were completed.

Chopsticks

Yesterday I completed my 67th orbit of the Sun. We took our grandsons to hunt down a suitable Christmas tree outside of town along the Homestead Road. We found one that was unable to elude our hand saw. Its a very pretty and prickly blue spruce. Ornaments will have to be put on with gloves.

Other than the last post from six days ago I’ve ignored the blog even while watching hallucinogenic headlines flash by my face every time I look at New York Times in my cell phone. I’ve spent my time decorating for Christmas and putting jigsaw puzzles together. Why should I post about the lotus eaters in Alabama who are telling Judge Moore that they “do believe in fairies,” they “do believe in fairies”? Which reminds me of a more uplifting fable told to me at church two Sunday’s ago as though it was true.

You can read it here. It turns out not to be true. Its about the famed pianist Paderewski sitting at the side of a small child in the concert hall to support him as a haughty crowd harasses the child. The virtuoso gives the audience a well deserved reproof. If there is anything I can take from the story’s fiction it is this: Even if the story is not true – it should be.

Then there is the story of 2016 which has bled into 2017 and is about to leak over into 2018. It is all too true and of course that means “fake.”

I just heard NPR interviewing a woman who began talking about the dismemberment of babies as she was challenged on the candidacy of Judge Roy Moore.

Penny Young Nance is the President of Concern Women for America. I was busy writing this so I missed most of her interview during which she challenged the interviewer as much as he challenged her. If I have to choose my truth I’ll stick with Paderewski playing chopsticks in preference to abortion TRUMPING sexual predation. For my news I’ll stick with the New York Tabloids:

The Deep Southification of the Republican Party

As I transition away from the School Board I’m finding that national affairs is taking over the job of waking me from sound sleep in the middle of the night.

I woke from a dream about a perilous journey being carried across the skies in a jerryrigged balloon and began stewing about one aspect of the Republican tax bill – its attack on state and local tax deductions.

The attack is really on blue states with their more generous treatment of the poor. The high taxes required to pay for better schools, Medicaid and environmental care can currently be deducted from Federal taxes. The Republicans, who have been taken over by the ethos of the Dixiecrats, want to put all the states on the same low tax footing of Mississippi and Alabama.

Democrats are counting on such a change causing an electoral rebellion when it comes to pass. I hope they are right but the Republicans are bending over backward to postpone the pain until after the 2018 elections. They are counting on our strengthening economy to lesson the pain even as they grovel at feet of Trump’s base by throwing their belated support behind a likely child molester in the Alabama Senate race.

The real test will be 2020 the year of the next Census and subsequent reapportionment of Congressional Districts. Republicans owned that process in 2010 and their many Republican controlled state governments went on to tear to design voting laws that hearkened back to the good old days of southern white supremacy when it was a rare black person who was permitted to exercise his or her right to vote without being lynched.

If the Republicans get their way child molesters will be able to hide behind the Ten Commandments. That’s a small price to pay for limited government.

Minnesota School Boards in Concert

I just snapped this picture of all my monthly school board books (meeting agendas and accompanying documents) from 2014 through 2017. As you can see I ran out of room in my file cabinet after two years and piled the last two year’s worth on top of my file cabinet. I had twice as many, eight years worth, after I retired from the Board in 2004.

When I retired then I tore out all the minutes of each meeting and tossed the rest. Two file drawers were freed up. This time I’ll only get one empty drawer but that space is badly needed as I begin to focus on researching and writing some books. Besides, if I wanted to look through these old books they are located (for the time being) in the Business office. That could change. Our Administration is hellbent to go paperless and digitize all of the District’s docs. There is a move to give all Board members “Chrome books,” an electronic tablet, starting after the new school board is seated to put an end to paper. I won’t miss the new regime. I’m a happy forest eater.

Although I don’t often go back through old board books I did this morning because I’m not leaving the Board a happy camper. I attended a state School Board meeting on Saturday to decide what issues the MSBA (Minn School Board Assn) will lobby the legislature for. The meetings are the “Delegate Assembly” and I was one of the duly elected delegates from District 27 composed of a dozen districts near Duluth. My seatmate on the Board, Rosie Loeffler-Kemp, was also elected.

The MSBA Legislative Assembly began seventy years ago to decide on a platform to push in the legislature. I attended them regularly for the first eight years I was on the School Board. Resolutions are traditionally brought to to the Assembly by individual school boards but occasionally they are brought by board members with an axe to grind without their Board’s support. Such was the case three years ago when Art Johnston and I introduced a resolution to kill the state law that lets a school board expel a board member the majority doesn’t like. We didn’t win that argument.

For most of the last twenty years our School Board (other than me) have paid scant attention to the Delegate Assembly. So, you can imagine my surprise to find that four of the 16 proposals considered by the Delegate Assembly came from the Duluth School Board. Of these four the MSBA leadership opposed three of them including one that seemed intent on causing a civil war between Independent School District’s and Minnesota’s 150 or so Charter Schools.

BE IT RESOLVED, THAT MSBA URGES THE LEGISLATURE TO REMOVE THE OBLIGATION OF LOCAL DISTRICTS TO COVER SPECIAL EDUCATION FUNDING GAPS FOR CHARTER SCHOOLS.

Rosie Loeffler-Kemp was hot for this resolution but it died for lack of a second. Rosie did speak up at the microphone for one of the Duluth resolutions which asked that the fee to file for the school board be raised from 2 dollars to $20. To my delight, several school board members argued eloquently that such a change seemed anti-democratic after Rosie argued that the proposal would keep riffraff from filing for public office and thus making school board elections unpleasant. Rosie likes to keep things simple. Its been rumored that she attended a recent elementary school PTA meeting and explained that in the future she expected our School Board meetings would only last an hour from now on. (no more three and four hour meetings). The rumor further suggested that Rosie was confident that the School Board would begin being more supportive of the school administration. This should be a comfort to our Superintendent who could barely contain his excitement the day following the School Board election.

Comp ed

I’ve been sent an email reminding me to return my school board member’s visitor pass and parking permit, sure signs of my lame duck status. I’m not completely finished. I just got to a Double Tree Motel in Minneapolis to participate in the MSBA Delegate Assembly tomorrow. That’s where school board reps will determine what the state school board association lobbies the legislature for.

I’ll share one last email sent to the Duluth School board with equal parts complaint and thank you:

November 30, 2017

School Board Members

To school board members Annie Harala, David Kirby and Rosie Loeffleer-Kemp again you express your preference to only supporting the needs of East High School students. Your vote does not surprise me, but you should be ashamed that you do not equally represent all of Duluth’s High School students. Parents and grandparents of students throughout Duluth are at a loss as to there your priority regarding students is. It is too obvious who you deem worthy of your concern. As a resident and tax payers I want all students equally represented throughout the Duluth school system .

The difference in attendance between the two high schools has been a major issue which you have not resolved. But [you] continue to use this funding to resolve problems at East’s because of its enrollment numbers. If you refuse to resolve or are unable to resolve the attendance issue please remove yourself from the position of a responsible school board member, we need members who want all students to have equal advantages and giving all schools equal footing can resolve most of our current issues and distrust.

All the concerns regarding changing the use of this funding seem to be based [on] one school, large class sizes, teachers affected, loss of counselors. These concerns are already losses for Denfeld students. Denfeld has class size increases but the loss of subject availability has been the worst for educational opportunities. Time to open your eyes and see the city as a whole unit not just who can be assisted the easiest. Denfeld is in crisis mode and you don’t seem to care.

This funding has a purpose but is not used for that purpose. Denfeld students do not deserve only 80% of its allocation while East receives almost 400%, really, you feel good in knowing you have treated all students fairly. I see the scale of justice for all students very off balance. And to quote John Krumm on the issue from the Duluth News Tribune. The west side was “paying for part of our cake.”

I hope you do not believe your are pulling the wool over the eyes of residents of Duluth, for you are not. But you should be ashamed for not stopping the injustice of it all. Our students deserve better representation than you give them.

And to school board members Alanna Oswald, Art Johnson and Harry Welty thank you for trying to address the injustice you see going on with our current school board. And for school board member Nora Sandstad, it was too bad you could not of stayed and showed us what side of justice you were on.

Sincerely
Xxxxx
DuuthMN 55808

I replied:

Harry Welty
1:15 PM (5 minutes ago)

to xxxxxxx,

Please make your concerns known to the new school board members who will take office in January. They will be part of the votes in June which will decide the next budget and whether Compensatory Education funding is spent as the legislature intended it to be.

Harry