Friday, March 31, 2017

National Interscholastic Swim & Dive Coaches Association Academic All-American Team

I'd like to congratulate the following athletes Olivia Groth, Alexa Helm, Maya Knutson, Madeline Peak, Pearl Puzak, Keiran Peers, James Pfister and August Peterson on being named to the National Interscholastic Swim & Dive Coaches Association Academic All-American Team.

Over 342,786 students are involved in aquatics at the high school level in over 15,623 programs for boys’ and girls’. Approximately 2% of these students are recognized as high school All American’s.  I extend to my most sincere congratulations and best wishes for their continued success. 

Also a special thanks and congrats to Boys assistant coach Bill Centner.  Bill will be recognized by the MN Swim Coaches Association at the All-State Banquet as an Assistant Coach of the Year.  Bill has dedicated many hours to our swimming and diving family.

Bill started out as a volunteer in our program while his two sons began swimming.  His effort, enthusiasm, and passion for our team evolved into Bill taking a paid assistant job and staying after his boys had graduated.  He has energy on a daily basis and his three questions to the boys make our program better and better each and every year.   

Swimmingly, Chris Aarseth

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Laker Gymnast Henry Meeker Signed Letter of Intent to the U of Minnesota

Southwest Laker senior Henry Meeker sign letter of intent to become a Golden Gopher Gymnast. 

Ryan Lamberty
P. 612.668.3035
C. 612.244.4155
Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Calling all Parents, Families and Community Members Of Southwest

Calling all Parents, Families and Community Members
Now is a great Opportunity with tons of Possibilities

Southwest High School is continuing to strive to be an excellent educational program offering a superior educational experience for children.  The goal is provide the Options and Opportunities that meet the needs, interests and demands of the individual (your child), the community, a global society and achieve future success.

The one-size-fits-all approach works for many and has for many years.  The manufacturing, factory style of schooling made sense in an age of mass production and repetition.   In the age of individualism and just-in-time decisions and inventories learning and what it means to be learned has dynamically changed.  Young people exploring adulthood need options and opportunities.  How do I know what I know?  How do I know what I do not know?  How can I discover what I need when I don't know what the future will demand?  How do I bring to reality what I really know?

A strong academic foundation is necessary.  A common tread of understanding is important to a society/community.  Learning the rules and regulations of interaction and living is vital.  More is demanded by an ever accelerating set of conditions.  Creativity, life-long learning, adaptability, collaboration, communication and flexibility are some of the skills that have always been important but will be the life and death of companies and individuals.

If any of this interests you, please volunteer to be part of an exciting adventure of bringing the future into today's educational programming.  Southwest will continue to follow the International Baccalaureate academic philosophy.  Southwest will continue to promote higher learning and attending college and professional learning institutions.  Southwest will continue to believe that the Arts of a vital ingredient for the success of the individual to the highest levels.  Southwest will continue to be a strong academic community, public high school.

Volunteer to participate in one of several committees (and task forces) that are striving for continued and sustainable excellence.  Call our Volunteer Coordinator, Janice Peterson - 612 668 3072 - or email me - for additional information.

Congratulations SW Film Makers!


The following students and movies are being screened in Nextwave, the youth filmmaking competition for the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival Sunday April 23rd 12:15pm at St. Anthony on Main.


Head Below Water
Lucy Bowman
Black and Blue

Simon Tolman, Jasper Lazor, Amir Sharif

Saturday, March 25, 2017

April Houston, Athena Award Winner

Congratulations to Southwest senior volleyball player April Houston,  The 2017 Minneapolis Athena Award winner.

The Athena Awards was founded because we believed the recognition was long overdue. Beginning in 1972, we hoped to correct that oversight and prepared a plan to encourage and recognize young women athletes. We sought advice and guidance from Dorothy McInyre and Giffy
O'Dell, Director of Athletics, Minneapolis Public Schools.

Athena, a goddess of Greek mythology, was chosen as the symbol of the outstanding young women athlete award. Athena was brave, chaste and dauntless. Each year athletic events were held in her honor.

As one of the twelve Olympian deities in Greek Mythology, Athena was the child of the brain of Zeus and became known as the goddess of wisdom. She encouraged law and order and presided over agricultural inventions. Brave, chaste, dauntless, she is the essence of all that is noble. She was born in armor to signify that her purity and virtue were unassailable. Majestic in appearance, she carried her aegis and a golden staff which possessed the gifts of dignity and youth.

Athena created the olive tree and the City of Athens was named in her honor as the deity who had given mankind a gift of plenty and a symbol of peace. In design, Athenian coins frequently used the owl, which is the wisest of birds and sacred to Athena.

Athena's most celebrated temple was the Parthenon, her principle festival the Panathenaea, which was celebrated each year in July. The festival lasted three days and included both city and country people. It began with a torch race, followed by athletic competitions. Prizes were olive wreaths, in honor of Athena.

Thus, the Athena Awards Committee as a part of the Women's Division of the Chamber, was formed with 40 members. The first Awards Luncheon was held on February 7, 1973, at the Minneapolis Athletic Club to honor the outstanding senior women athlete from each of the Minneapolis city and suburban high schools for the athletic achievements.

Southwest & Edison MYP Personal Projects

Southwest High School 10th-graders Ben Peterson, Hema Patel and Mark Pekala (from left to right)
show off their personal projects they created as part of the school's Middle Years Programme. 
Photo by Nate Gotlieb

Training for a marathon, building an electric guitar and choreographing a musical don’t have a lot in common — unless you’re a 10th-grader at Southwest High School.

The three activities were among those students chose this year for their personal projects, a required component of the school’s International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme.

The students picked a topic of their choice, researched it and create a product or an outcome, such as hosting an event or starting a club. The experience has helped students explore their own identities and develop skills in research, communication and self-management, according to Holli Hoffman, Southwest’s MYP Coordinator.

“Every year the projects are so unique, which is a reflection of the students,” she said. “It just depends on the angle the students want to take.”

Read complete article from the Southwest Journal:

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What Parents Need to Know About the ‘Eraser Challenge’

A viral Facebook post is calling attention to a dangerous game being played at schools around the country. The social media account of East Iredell Middle School in Statesville, North Carolina recently published a photo of a burn on a child’s arm—the result of the “eraser challenge,” the caption states.
“Kids are rubbing an eraser across their skin while having to do or say something,” the post continues. “It's causing serious burns and we've seen several cases of this at EIMS.”
School-age children burning themselves with erasers may be nothing new; several commenters on the post recall engaging in similar antics when they were younger. But thanks to the challenge’s spread on social media, as Today reported, it’s getting new attention and reaching a wider audience of vulnerable kids.
According to Today, one version of the dare involves children reciting the alphabet while rubbing the skin on their arm with an eraser. The goal is to not drop out first—even if the rubbing motion leads to burns and open wounds. “Social media is filled with videos of kids and teens filming themselves doing the challenge and wincing in pain,” the morning show reported.
Why, exactly, would kids want to harm themselves in this way? It seems like a combination of showing off and peer pressure, says Joelle Simpson, M.D., an emergency medicine and trauma physician at Children’s National Health System. Dr. Simpson hasn't treated any patients with eraser burns herself, but she has heard about the phenomenon.
“Peer pressure is no longer contained within the school yard, but it’s expanding into the virtual world of social media,” says Dr. Simpson. “Kids are always trying to up the ante when it comes to challenges like this, so it’s important for parents to be aware of what their children are engaging in.”
And while eraser burns may sound goofy, they’re nothing to laugh at. Like any other burn—from fire or another form of friction—they can be painful and lead to permanent scarring.
They can also be dangerous. “The skin is one of the largest components of the immune system; it’s our largest organ,” says Dr. Simpson. “And when you practice this challenge, it can compromise that barrier and leave you susceptible to catching an infection.” The risk is especially high for children who already have weakened immune systems because of other health conditions, she adds.
And serious issues have been reported: In 2015, KHSL-TV reported that a high-school student in California contracted toxic shock syndrome from a strep infection after doing the challenge.
If a parent does notice these types of burns on their children’s arms, Dr. Simpson recommends washing the area with soap and water, applying an antibiotic ointment like Neosporin, and following up with a doctor if it doesn’t start to heal in a few days.
Of course, this sort of injury isn’t necessarily something a child will go to their parents about willingly. “It’s always on the parent to be vigilant and engage in talking to a child about any unusual scars or marks they might notice,” says Dr. Simpson. “Parents shouldn’t ignore things like this; being upfront and having an open conversation about what happened, and why this happened, can help families avoid similar problems in the future.”
This article originally appeared on

College Search for Junior and Families 7 pm in Commons

Tonight, Tuesday, March 21,  the counselors and the College and Career Center  

Staff are hosting parent/student information sessions focusing on the COLLEGE SEARCH. 

We are revisiting College Search I from 6:30 to 7:00 and presenting College Search II at 7:00 P.M. 

These will be taking place in the lunchroom commons area. 

The target audience is Juniors and their families, but all students are welcome.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Tickets Going Fast - Sweet Charity - Wonderful Southwest Musical - Reserve Your Seat

SW Theatre Presents the Spotlight Musical "Sweet Charity" 
- Tickets on sale now!

This beloved musical comedy written by Neil Simon was originally directed and choreographed for Broadway by Bob Fosse, who brought to life Charity Hope Valentine, an unlucky-in-love dance hall hostess. Follow her misadventures along with a colorful cast of characters in this amazing musical! 

Excellently directed by Margaret Berg, Colleen Callahan, Bryan Fisher and Reid Wixson.

March 16-18, 7 pm
March 19, 2 pm

March 23-25, 7 pm
March 26, 2 pm

For tickets and information: 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

MCA Test Scores To Test Our of Remedial Courses


10th and 11 Grade MCA scores can be used to test out of remedial courses at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities starting in 2018-19
MDE has just provided notice that starting in 2018-19, students who are at or above the identified scores outlined below are expected to be able to successfully complete credit-bearing coursework without the need for remediation. Students with scores above the ranges indicated below must not be required to take remedial, non-credit courses in the corresponding subject area at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. As MCA scores will start being used in this way in 2018-19, current juniors and sophomores who are taking the MCAs this year will be able to take advantage of this new policy.

Intended Course of Enrollment (or equivalent)
Enrollment in Developmental Course Unless Additional Information Indicates Otherwise
Need More Information on Readiness
Enrollment in College Level Course
College Algebra
1151 and below
1158 and above
1145 and below
1148 and above
Other mathematics
1145 and below
1150 and above
Reading Intensive
1041 and below
1047 and above

Southwest Requests Your Support Through Amazon Smile

College Search & Selective College Admissions Presentation: Tues 3/21 7pm in the Commons/Lunchroom

Juniors and families, 

You're invited to next Tuesday's College Search & Selective College Admissions presentation by the SWHS Counseling department. This presentation will focus on secondary factors for admission (essay, letters of recommendation, activities), selective college admissions, and a behind-the-scenes look a the admissions process. The presentation will begin at 7:00pm in the Commons/Lunchroom on Tuesday, March 21st. 

This presentation is the 2nd part of our 2-part College Search curriculum with juniors and families. The first College Search presentation, "Starting the College Search" took place at the Passport College Workshops on October 1, 2016.

If you'd like to review that information, the presentation is attached. "Starting the College Search" and other October 1 presentations can also be found at the SWHS Counseling Archived Presentations link here: 

Counselors/Coordinators will present highlights from "Starting the College Search" presentation at 6:30pm on Tuesday, March 21st in the Commons/Lunchroom prior to the main presentation for anyone who missed or would like a reminder of October's presentation.
In this presentation and the presentation for Seniors and families coming up this fall, we will reference Naviance, our online-based software program to assist students with post-secondary planning including college seach, college lists, college applications, career interests and exploration, scholarships and more.

Parent/Guardians: If you have not already registered for the parent/guardian account in Naviance, please keep an eye out for an email with your specific, individual registration code and instructions for getting started on Naviance. These emails should be sent within the upcoming week, prior to next Tuesday's presentation. 

We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday, March 21st! 

Your SWHS Counselors and CCC Coordinators

Sweet Charity Open Thursday March 16 Order Your Tickets

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

State Champions Southwest Nordic Ski Team Recognized by Board of Education

Southwest Nordic  Ski Team 
State Champions

Doing the Right Thing - Math Champions

"It takes less time to do a thing right than to explain why you did it wrong" - Longfellow

That quote, with the phrase Integrity at Southwest, is on a poster in the IB office. The Southwest Math Team displayed integrity yesterday. 

Southwest earned their eleventh consecutive division title this year, along with their eleventh consecutive invitation to the State Tournament. Nine students represented the school. Mikal Nelson and I acted as guides and chaperones. Joey Doyle, Arthur Goldman, Mitchell Hockenberry, Henry Meeker, Mark Pekala, Simon Rothman, Rachel Springer, Isadora White, and Claire Weil each completed two individual events and participated in the team event. Arthur had the high score for the team, correctly answering seven of his eight questions. 

After all the events were completed and the points tallied, our team waited for the awards to be presented. Based on our season performance, we were competing in the Beta Class (second group of 14 teams at the tournament out of 42 invited teams). 

We were awarded third place! Medals were presented! A trophy was awarded!

But something didn't seem right. The score they called for our team was two points too many. After a quick consultation, we determined that we actually earned 80 points and we really finished in fourth place. 

The kids were awesome. They neatly boxed up their medals, and turned in their trophy. I heard phrases like, "it's the right thing to do". There was no whining or complaining. It was an Oscars-like moment. Another team was given the award that they earned. 

Mik and I are proud of our team! Even if they don't have a trophy to show for their efforts. 

David MvMayer  & Mikel Nelson
Southwest Math Team Coaches

Monday, March 13, 2017

Slippery Streets and Sidewallks - Be Careful Coming to School -- School OPEN

The streets and sidewalks throughout the neighborhood are slippery.  The street in general have been plowed and are in decent shape for cars.  However, they are slippery and are especially slippery at intersections.   Be careful at cross walks and watch for walkers.

The hill on 47th will continue to be slippery and should be avoided.  That is between Abbott and Beard.  It has been treated but car traffic makes it more icy and traffic will be slow coming up that hill.

The best student drop off is on the 46th Street side of the school or at the circle on Beard on the north side of the school.

Be careful and have a safe day.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Boys & Girls Club Summer Programming

Sweet Charity Tickets Available NOW

SW Theatre Presents the Spotlight Musical "Sweet Charity" 
Tickets on Sale Feb. 18!

Hey Big Spender! Follow the misadventures of Charity Hope Valentine- and her associates at the Fandango Ballroom- as she sings, dances, laughs and cries her way through comical situations in the hope of finding true love. 

Music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Dorothy Fields, book by Neil Simon. Directed by Margaret Berg, Colleen Callahan-Russell, Bryan Fisher and Reid Wixson.

March 16-18, 7 pm; March 19, 2 pm
March 23-25, 7 pm; March 26, 2 pm
March 16: Name Your Price at the door
March 17: Alumni Night

For tickets and information: 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

How to Help Your Underachieving Teenager

Feeling frustrated by your underachieving teenager? Here’s what to try next.
By Rebecca Meiser
Linny Smith* has graduate degrees in both social work and education. So she assumed, naturally, that whatever problems her own two children encountered in the classroom—whether emotionally or academically—she’d be able to help them. When her 14-year-old son, who continually measured in the highest echelons of IQ tests, first started getting Bs and Cs, she knew just what to do: She helped him make test guides. And talked about the importance of establishing daily study habits. And gave examples of how important grades were to his future.
But to Ginny’s utter frustration, none of these things seemed to resonate with her underachieving teenager. “He’s unmotivated by grades. He doesn’t feel an incentive to get the highest scores. He just doesn’t see the value in it,” she says.
It’s not that Ginny needed her son to get straight A’s. It was the fact that he didn’t seem to care about what results he got at all. He was underachieving, which is a very different phenomenon than a child simply not performing well at school.

How to Help an Underachieving Teenager

“Underachievement refers to young people who are performing more poorly in school than one would expect on the basis of their test scores or other indices of basic mental abilities,” explains Robert McCall, co-director of the Office of Child Development at the University of Pittsburgh. “Poor achievement is when a child performs modestly or poorly, but at a level one might expect of that child’s abilities and circumstances.” Underachievement, on the other hand, “can be a child who gets C’s and B’s when he or she is capable of getting A’s, or gets C’s and D’s when capable of getting B’s.”
When it comes to underachievement, the disparity between capability and results can really get under the skin of a parent. If only Suzie would just apply herself, they think. Yet a lot of times when teenagers underperform, it has more to do with fear, than with laziness, experts say.

1. Understand Why They’re Underachieving

“They worry they won’t be smart enough—and so they start using words like ‘boring’ to describe their academic work,” says Dr. Sylvia Rimm, director of the Family Achievement Clinic in Cleveland and author of the book Why Bright Kids Get Poor Grades. “But ‘boring’ doesn’t really mean boring at all. It means I’m scared to make an effort because maybe even if I make an effort I still might not do well.”
Many underperformers were, in fact, once over- or average achievers; they were likely accustomed to not having to work too hard to do well in school. But as the academics got harder in middle school (or high school), they never developed the tools to deal with it. “They define smart as easy, so if work is hard, they think they must be stupid,” Rimm says.

2. Praise and Demand Effort

Checking out—or feigning indifference to schoolwork — gives the underachievers an easy out for not meeting their own or others’ expectations. As a parent, then, one of the best things you can do to help your underachieving teenager get over these fears is to spend more time complimenting him on his efforts rather than his results.
“Give your teenager the message that we expect you to be a hard worker and do your best. And if they do their best, you’ll be satisfied with the grades,” Rimm says.

3. No Excuses

It’s important also not to make excuses for your teen. When a child is more of an outside-the-box thinker, it can be easy to label him as a “creative type”—giving your teen tacit permission to bow out of work and assignments. And conversely, it also “gives your child the message that they always have to think and act differently or creatively—thus putting pressure on them not to conform even when it’s appropriate,” Rimm says.

4. Set Realistic Goals

If you are concerned that changes in grades might be related to an underlying undiagnosed issue like ADHD, talk to your child’s doctor. But once you’ve ruled out any medical issues —and tried to get your child extra support — you might have to do the hardest thing of all: Swallow your ego and accept that your teen just does not have the same goals as you. “Our rule now is that our son can’t get C’s for the grading period,” says Smith, who admits to struggling daily with these revised expectations.
And at the same time, she admits that she can’t help but admire her son a bit for his attitude. “I think in some ways the attitude he has will serve him more on this planet than the monkey who just jumps through hoops,” she says. “My friends remind me that if I talked to any mom of a Silicon Valley executive about how their child was in school, I’d probably hear similar stories.”
*Not her real name
Rebecca Meiser is a freelance writer in Cleveland, Ohio, and frequent contributor to Your Teen.

IB Appreciation Night At the April 23rd Minnesota United FC Soccer Game.

For Tickets Contact:

Welcome to Minnesota Concert March 7 featuring Southwest Vocal Teacher Hannah Stanke

Southwest Choral Assistant Director Hannah Stanke is performing this evening for the opening concert Of the American Choral Directors Association 2017 National Conference.

The Welcome ot Minnesota with Garrison Keillor opens at 7:30 at the Convention Center and Free to the public (they are expecting about 15,000 people).

Stanke is singing a solo set with The Singers; Minnesota Choral Artists (a professional choir based here in Minneapolis that she has been with for 8 years) on the first half of the concert.

In the second half of the concert tonight (March 7)  Stanke is singing in the Mass choir which is The Singers and VocalEssence combined with the Metropolitan Symphony for Dominck Argento's Te Deum- a larger-than-life piece!

The Conference opens with Welcome to Minnesota tonight, March 7 at 7:30 in the Convention Center.  The official conference is from the 8th through the 11th.  There are daily performance in numerous venues through the city.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Southwest Math Team Going To State Tournament

Southwest Math Team Going To State Tournament

Congratulations to all of the students on the Southwest Math Team! They won all five of their divisional meets this year. The team has officially earned their eleventh consecutive division title! 

Nine of the top students from the team will be representing Southwest at the annual State Tournament for the Minnesota State High School Math League, held at South St. Paul High School on March 13th. 

Individually, Rachel Springer finished with second place honors in the division and Mark Pekala finished with third place honors in the division.

Mr. McMayer and Mr. Nelson are very proud of what the students have accomplished this year. Go Anglers!

PSEO Information Session March 6 and 7

PSEO Information Sessions:   Are you interested in learning more about Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO)? 

Join us at a brief session to get an overview of the PSEO process, for whom PSEO is a good fit, the pros/cons of doing PSEO, etc. 

Additional information can be found on the counseling website, including a list of frequently asked questions

Counselors expect that students will attend an information prior to making an appointment to discuss options.  

March 6, from 3:15-3:45 and March 7, from 7:30-8:00

Southwest Baseball Fundraiser 6-9 pm March 4

Fundraiser for Southwest Baseball: 3rd Annual Southwest Baseball Beer Tasting, Buffet, and Auction. 

Saturday March 4. Town Hall Brewery, 1430 Washington Ave, Mpls, from 6-9, buffet from 6-8. 

(please note: this is an event for 21+). 

To buy tickets, visit

Organized and sponsered by the Southwest Baseball Booster Organization.

Have We Lost Sight of the Promise of Public Schools?

Have We Lost Sight of the Promise of Public Schools?

In the days leading up to and after Betsy DeVos’s confirmation as secretary of education, a hashtag spread across Twitter: #publicschoolproud. Parents and teachers tweeted photos of their kids studying, performing, eating lunch together. People of all races tweeted about how public schools changed them, saved them, helped them succeed. The hashtag and storytelling was a rebuttal to DeVos, who called traditional public schools a “dead end” and who bankrolled efforts to pass reforms in Michigan, her home state, that would funnel public funds in the form of vouchers into religious and privately operated schools and encouraged the proliferation of for-profit charter schools. The tweets railed against DeVos’s labeling of public schools as an industry that needed to adopt the free-market principles of competition and choice. #Publicschoolproud was seen as an effort to show that public schools still mattered.
But the enthusiastic defense obscured a larger truth: We began moving away from the “public” in public education a long time ago. In fact, treating public schools like a business these days is largely a matter of fact in many places. Parents have pushed for school-choice policies that encourage shopping for public schools that they hope will give their children an advantage and for the expansion of charter schools that are run by private organizations with public funds. Large numbers of public schools have selective admissions policies that keep most kids out. And parents pay top dollar to buy into neighborhoods zoned to “good” public schools that can be as exclusive as private ones. The glaring reality is, whether we are talking about schools or other institutions, it seems as if we have forgotten what “public” really means.
The word derives from the Latin word publicus, meaning “of the people.” This concept — that the government belongs to the people and the government should provide for the good of the people — was foundational to the world’s nascent democracies. Where once citizens paid taxes to the monarchy in the hope that it would serve the public too, in democracies they paid taxes directly for infrastructure and institutions that benefited society as a whole. The tax dollars of ancient Athenians and Romans built roads and aqueducts, but they also provided free meals to widows whose husbands died in war. “Public” stood not just for how something was financed — with the tax dollars of citizens — but for a communal ownership of institutions and for a society that privileged the common good over individual advancement.
Early on, it was this investment in public institutions that set America apart from other countries. Public hospitals ensured that even the indigent received good medical care — health problems for some could turn into epidemics for us all. Public parks gave access to the great outdoors not just to the wealthy who could retreat to their country estates but to the masses in the nation’s cities. Every state invested in public universities. Public schools became widespread in the 1800s, not to provide an advantage for particular individuals but with the understanding that shuffling the wealthy and working class together (though not black Americans and other racial minorities) would create a common sense of citizenship and national identity, that it would tie together the fates of the haves and the have-nots and that doing so benefited the nation. A sense of the public good was a unifying force because it meant that the rich and the poor, the powerful and the meek, shared the spoils — as well as the burdens — of this messy democracy.
We began moving away from the ‘public’ in public education a long time ago.
Achieving this has never been an easy feat. The tension between individual striving and the common good, between the beliefs that strong government protects and provides for its citizens and that big government leads to tyranny, has always existed in this country. As a result, support for public institutions and expansive government has ebbed and flowed. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in response to the Great Depression, ushered through the biggest expansion of federal programs in our nation’s history, he did so because he thought that government regulation was necessary to empower common people against corporations and banks but also that government should provide certain protections for its citizens. Under the New Deal, we got Social Security and unemployment insurance. Federal housing projects — public housing — meant quality dwellings for the nation’s working people. Federal works projects employed millions of out-of-work Americans and brought infrastructure to communities that had not been able to pay for it on their own.

At the same time, the New Deal stoked the ire of a small-government, antiregulation minority, who began to push back, though it would take some decades before their views became mainstream. They promoted free-market principles, deregulation and the privatization of functions normally handled by the government and sought to define all things — like the benefits of education — strictly in terms of their economic value.
Nonetheless, Roosevelt’s government expansion was widely supported, and Americans elected him to an unprecedented four terms as president. But the broad support of public programs and institutions hinged on a narrow definition of who that public was: white Americans. To get his New Deal passed, Roosevelt compromised with white Southerners in Congress, and much of the legislation either explicitly or implicitly discriminated against black citizens, denying them many of its benefits.
As the civil rights movement gained ground in the 1950s and 1960s, however, a series of court rulings and new laws ensured that black Americans now had the same legal rights to public schools, libraries, parks and swimming pools as white Americans. But as black Americans became part of the public, white Americans began to pull away. Instead of sharing their public pools with black residents — whose tax dollars had also paid for them — white Americans founded private clubs (often with public funds) or withdrew behind their fences where they dug their own pools. Public housing was once seen as a community good that drew presidents for photo ops. But after federal housing policies helped white Americans buy their own homes in the suburbs, black Americans, who could not get government-subsidized mortgages, languished in public housing, which became stigmatized. Where once public transportation showed a city’s forward progress, white communities began to fight its expansion, fearing it would give unwanted people access to their enclaves.
As black Americans became part of the public, white Americans began to pull away.
And white Americans began to withdraw from public schools or move away from school districts with large numbers of black children once the courts started mandating desegregation. Some communities shuttered public schools altogether rather than allow black children to share publicly funded schools with white children. The very voucher movement that is at the heart of DeVos’s educational ideas was born of white opposition to school desegregation as state and local governments offered white children vouchers to pay for private schools — known as segregation academies — that sprouted across the South after the Supreme Court struck down school segregation in 1954.
“What had been enjoyed as a public thing by white citizens became a place of forced encounter with other people from whom they wanted to be separate,” Bonnie Honig, a professor of political science and modern culture and media at Brown University and author of the forthcoming book “Public Things: Democracy in Disrepair,” told me. “The attractiveness of private schools and other forms of privatization are not just driven by economization but by the desire to control the community with which you interact.”
Even when they fail, the guiding values of public institutions, of the public good, are equality and justice. The guiding value of the free market is profit. The for-profit charters DeVos helped expand have not provided an appreciably better education for Detroit’s children, yet they’ve continued to expand because they are profitable — or as Tom Watkins, Michigan’s former education superintendent, said, “In a number of cases, people are making a boatload of money, and the kids aren’t getting educated.”
Democracy works only if those who have the money or the power to opt out of public things choose instead to opt in for the common good. It’s called a social contract, and we’ve seen what happens in cities where the social contract is broken: White residents vote against tax hikes to fund schools where they don’t send their children, parks go untended and libraries shutter because affluent people feel no obligation to help pay for things they don’t need. “The existence of public things — to meet each other, to fight about, to pay for together, to enjoy, to complain about — this is absolutely indispensable to democratic life,” Honig says.
If there is hope for a renewal of our belief in public institutions and a common good, it may reside in the public schools. Nine of 10 children attend one, a rate of participation that few, if any, other public bodies can claim, and schools, as segregated as many are, remain one of the few institutions where Americans of different classes and races mix. The vast multiracial, socioeconomically diverse defense of public schools that DeVos set off may show that we have not yet given up on the ideals of the public — and on ourselves.
Nikole Hannah-Jones is a staff writer for the magazine.
from New York Time Magazine - February 26, 2017

Thursday, March 2, 2017

March 2 Read Across America -- Read a Book - Read a Book to a Child

NEA's Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of beloved children's author Dr. Seuss.

The Beginning
In May 1997, a small reading task force at NEA came up with a big idea. "Let's create a day to celebrate reading," the group decided. "We hold pep rallies to get kids excited about football. We assemble to remember that Character Counts. Why don't we do something to get kids excited about reading? We'll call it 'NEA's Read Across America' and we'll celebrate it on Dr. Seuss's birthday." And so was born on March 2, 1998, the largest celebration of reading this country has ever seen.

The Purpose of Read Across America

Motivating children to read is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers. Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school