Fickle finger of fate points to good luckHave you tended to believe most of the comments by conservatives in our society? I received another one this morning from a Republican friend who felt I should read one written by Bill Cosby.
By: Bernie Hughes, Superior Telegram
Have you tended to believe most of the comments by conservatives in our society? I received another one this morning from a Republican friend who felt I should read one written by Bill Cosby.
In a nutshell, as a black, Cosby chastises fellow blacks that have come to depend on government aid rather than doing the hard work necessary for success as he has done. He made the case that they hadn’t made the effort he had.
I grew up working. Luckily, in retrospect, I have learned to appreciate my good luck. My mother was one of 15 children in a very poor family. She only had a third grade education and worked as a regular farm hand so her only child was in class every school day. I didn’t appreciate my good luck then, or later, after World War II when the government financed G.I. Bill paid for my education. I was still patting myself on the back.
Years later, when I served as a small school superintendent in Montana, I seriously began to appreciate the good luck that I had had. Many students weren’t ghetto poor but there were poverty cases. How did I learn? I discovered what the elementary teachers did for the youngsters coming from poor homes in our school district. I discovered closets full of children’s gear, shoes, overshoes, dresses, pants and more. These teachers knew family needs and initiated this effort so kids wouldn’t be trudging home without proper weather gear.
Later, in a larger district and small primary elementary school, a first grade teacher requested a projector for her room. We denied her request because we already had three in that building for nine teachers. One day, visiting her room, I noted her using a new projector and realized she had purchased it as a two-year degree teacher receiving a very small income. Her developed materials for her class could be implemented and utilized more readily when needed.
From then on, I more carefully examined budget requests because that projector wasn’t the only material that very low wage teachers purchased on their own. This tale of my deeper understanding was repeated many times during my 20 years in Montana education.
Later as a professor of education at UW-Superior, I visited a Milwaukee student teacher and received a look at ghettos. Poverty has a greater impact when the class sizes are larger, and the materials and equipment dollars are fewer. The lives that many of them had, I wouldn’t have wished on enemies. I realized another of the many lucky breaks I received in life.
As a school administrator having received my professional training at the University of Minnesota and Washington State University, I had heard about state equalization funding — great sounding concept. It helps a good deal, but it is only partial equalization. Taxes throughout our nation are viewed negatively. Those of us who understand politics know how financial decisions are made. People with money have a number of ways to control spending. If you have any doubt about my comments, check the amount per pupil spent in wealthy districts as compared to poor districts. Fair shake for the students? Not really, not when you consider we’re a wealthy nation that spends more on weaponry and questionable wars than most all developed nations combined.
Let’s close with a look at luck even if you were one of those self-made individuals who personally achieved every morsel of your personal achievements:
• Not all children are born with equal genes. (We’ll leave color out although we know that isn’t only a redneck problem)
• Not all are born with equal ability or educated parents.
• Not all parents, that are of good ability, tend to parenting.
• Not all receive equal education.
• Equal employment opportunities aren’t equal in various occupations.
• All employees don’t receive equal treatment. Most bosses try to be fair, but likeability can be a bit like a bouncing ball.
Hopefully that short list will remind you of other factors in that old saying, “flaunting the fickle finger of fate.” I learned along the way my good luck.
How about you?
Bernie Hughes, Ed.D, is a retired educator who resides in Superior. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.