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January 7, 2004     Sentinel Tribune
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January 7, 2004

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SENTINEL TRIBUNE View00_9__int Wednesday, January 7, 2004 BETWEEN THE By Tom Merchant Sentinel Tribune LINES Cold enough for you? I don't know how many times I have heard or said that phrase. If I had a nickel for every time I would be quite affluent Maybe I should retitle this column, got Cliches? This is what you get when you don't know quite where you are heading. By now it should be obvious that I really don't have a clue. It is a whole lot easier to write when you have a specific subject in mind. Except for the Packers win- ning their playoff game, it was really relaxing watching the playoffs without having to suffer the agony of yet another playoff loss by the Vikes. Of course we all know with just a couple of good draft picks this team could go all the way to the Super Bowl -- Righfl Yeah and I might win the lottery too. Speaking about the lottery -- I was thinking if only resi- dents of Westbrook or Walnut Grove or even Dovray were the only ones with tickets, your odds of winning still wouldn't be that good. Then if you multiply that by 100,000 or a million it really gets bleak. The Vikings would probably have a better chance of winning a Super Bowl. It could happen! Back to the cold -- I guess we really can't complain because it is supposed to start moderating some what today. Of course when did we ever get accurate predictions from a weather man? Of course there is one good thing about the cold, the ice is much safer for ice fishing and snowmobiling. Of course for me it is way to cold to do either one of those activities. I once heard former Minnesota Twins player Dan Gladden talking about Ice fish- ing. He said "1 don't ice fish because I can't drink that much beer." The good news is that the days are getting longer and if we get through this month with- out a lot of bad weather, we should have it made. I heard the long range forecast is for warmer than normal tempera- tures. Don't forget what I said about weather men. Have a great Week The next education cash COW: Early Childhood Education By Warren Grantham Executive Director MN Education League I get a little nervous when the very people who are responsible for the mess we have in our current education system hammer the mes- sage that they need to bring kids into the education system even ear- lier. They want to do it through Early Childhood Family Education so that they can make a difference in how the kids arrive at the K-12 doorstep. This makes me nervous because we have proof of the dam- age that they can do in 13 years. Do they really think that adding two or three is going to make that big a difference in the outcomes? My interest in this has a lot to do with the fact that a few cons ago, I was one of those failing kids. When we talk about failing schools and the kids that are not making it, we are talking mainly about black kids and African American young- sters primarily in grades 3 to 12, who are now in the process of being written off (left behind) in favor of black kids, ages 3 to 5 mainly because of the money that will come to the districts to expand the Early Childhood Family Education programs. Minnesota's education bureaucrats have spent scores of billions of dollars on K-12 educa- tion in the past decade. Nevertheless, we now have to hang our head in shame because we have the distinction of being the worst state in the nation in the racial divide in K-12 education. Even the black kids that manage to somehow graduate end up four full years behind their white counterparts in math and reading skills. How can we justify such dismal results? This is a matter of justice. It is a civil rights issue in search of a champi- on. Moreover, until this system serves its current clients better, how can you possibly justify expanding it? The educrats are not the only ones to blame for the continuing dismal results, however. There are many "in the communities of color who by their silence are complicit in this wholesale destruction of a generation. Black leaders ought to be outraged. It is very worrisome that they will initiate a march on city hall in defense of a convicted criminal because of some alleged police brutality, but they will not walk a city block, to a failing high school to highlight the injustices being perpetrated on our most innocent and vulnerable daily. Each day that these kids are forced to stay in these failing schools is another day that their futures are bing stolen from them. The so- called community leaders choose to sit idly by while the minds of these kids are plundered. Such complici- ty in destroying the futures of these kids is unacceptable. Whether they consciously or unconsciously partic- ipate in this immoral act does not matter. The results are the same: it ensures that these leaders will have plenty of criminals to defend down on the steps of city hall. When the education system fails, especially little black boys, there is another system right there waiting to welcome them in. Prison labor is productive and it does not require a high school diploma. It does not require the ability to read or write and it seems that this pres- ent education system is preparing them very well to fit into that sys- tem. I implore you to visit any inner city .school where there are large numbers of black kids, before you decide to bring even younger kids into this system. It is a system that turns out inferiorly educated black kids and to simply say that the school system needs to be involved earlier is doing nothing more than blaming the parents for what the education system consid- ers inferior parenting. No matter how you look at it, this racial divide in education is inherently racist. I will concede J A N UA R I 4 II AI Bart... 00Stories from the Batt Cave" The Watch I wanted a watch. I had watched for years as my father wound his watch each evening with that peculiar action of his thumb and index finger. I was barely able to tell time, but the sounds produced by the give and take winding intrigued me. I had wanted a watch and a jackknife, but my father had been given a new Barlow knife for Father's Day and he had given me his old knife. I loved that old knife with its blades worn thin by sharpening. I wasn't really dressed unless that old knife was nestled in my pants pocket. I had an old pocket watch that went into my pants pocket opposite the one carrying the knife. The two items gave me balance. The pocket watch was wonderful and kept good time, but I wanted a wrist- watch like my father had. I hinted that a watch is what I wanted for Christmas. They were subtle hints, a classy way to request a gift, I thought. Then I began to worry that I might not get my wristwatch, so I began to whine., / realized that I had not really been that good of a boy and I panicked. I began to beg. I checked under the Christmas tree on a daily basis, picking up presents with my name on them and shaking them. I didn't really know what sound a wristwatch in a package would make, but none fit my imagined description. I came into Christmas Day with less than my usual enthusiasm. Oh, I was still excited about family coming, the good food and the presents that I would be receiving, but I was feeling a little melancholy because it appeared that I would not be receiving what I really wanted, a wristwatch. When all the chores had been done, the food devoured and all the stories told, it was time to open the presents. It was my job to pull the gifts from under the tree and pass them to the intended parson. As I distributed the gifts, I made a wonderful dis- covery. There was a small package with my name on it that looked like it could easily house a wrist- watch. It was from my father. When we all had our gifts, we went around the room and each person opened one gift, That was so we could all ooh and aah as we got a look at the wondrous gifts. It was a big decision for me as to whether I s open the package that possibly contained the first or last. I decided to allow the sus and open it last. I opened my first gift, ril wrapping paper into bits in the process. of woolen socks. I blurted out that the what I wanted. It was a permissible lie in be nice. I watched my father open his gift socks. He opened his gift slowly and his Barlow knife to slice through any tape. to myself that I would have to open my way. When it again became my turn, I could not wait any longer to open the gift hoped held my wristwatch. Nor could I ly and neatly with my knife. I shredded the covering the package. It was a wristwatch. I didn't get my watch a minute too soon. I thanked my father profusely. I thought telling him that I would do my chores from now on, but I didn't want to get carded The watch was a Hamilton. It had a tangular shape with a tiny second hand that in its own circle at the bottom of the watch had d beveled crystal and of course, tery. I had heard of battery-powered had never seen one..It had a metal could be twisted without breaking. In return twisting, the band would pinch skin and hair out by the roots that attempted to grow youthful wdsL It was a wonderful watch. I even wore it just in case I would need to know the time A few months after getting the shoved by a cow that we were moving from in a barn to another. When I threw my keep from falling, I smashed my watch into The watch never recovered. I have never forgotten that watch. I will always remember the wonderful when I received it. AI Batt 2003 71622 325 St. Hartland, MN 56042 :fi that the past racial damage to a couple of generations of black kids has been unintentional. However, now that we know that black kids who graduate from high school do so a full four years behind their white counterparts in math and reading abilities, we have moved from unintentional racism to delib- erate racism when we demand that these kids stay in this system. To introduce even younger, more impressionable minds to this failed system is immoral. It should be very clear for all to see that the education bureau- crats are interested in Early Childhood Family Education for only one reason the dollars that it brings to the system, not for the children, as they loudly chant. / I Sentinel Tribune Thomas Merchant Roxy Soil Wayne Rue Junette Merchant Nancy Goring Joan Spielman (ISSN 875O-3905) Managing Editor Ad Layout & Office Manager Advertising Sales Westbrook Office & Production Production Production Carolyn Van Loh "assignment reporter Teri Herder Walnut Grove news correspondent Published every Wednesday at Westbrook, Minnesota 56183 Periodicals Postage Paid at Westbrook, Minnesota 56183 SUBSCRIPTION PRICE FOR THE SENTINEL TRIBUNE WILL BE: In the following counties: Cottonwood, Redwood, Lyon, Murray and Nobles $25.00 Per Year - $17.00 6 Months (includes Peach). Elsewhere in Minnesota $29.00 per year. Out of the State $34.00 per year. 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