Category Archives: activism

Enough. Just enough.

This is a list of the worst school shootings that have happened in the USA. How many more of them need to happen before we change things? Thanks to the Daily Mail UK.


1. Virginia Tech – 32 dead plus the shooter, 16 April 2007, Blacksburg, Virginia

Student Seung Hui Cho, 23, killed two stuidents in a dorm and then went through building of classrooms armed with two handguns, shooting at random before killing himself.

2. University of Texas – 16 dead plus shooter, 1 August 1966, Austin, Texas

Former Marine sniper Charles Whitman, 25, armed with an arsenal of weapons shot victims from the observation deck of the campus tower.

3. Columbine High School – 13 dead plus two shooters, 20 April 1999, Littleton, Colorado

Students Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, opened fire outside the school killing students and one teacher before shooting themselves in the library.

4. Red Lake High School – 9 dead plus shooter, 21 March 2005, Red Lake, Minnesota

Jeffrey Weise, 17, goes on a shooting spree at Red Lake High School killing nine people, including his grandfather, before shooting himself.

5. University of Iowa – five dead plus shooter, 1 November 1991, University of Iowa

Gang Lu, 27, a graduate student from China killed five with a .38-caliber revolver. He was apparently angry because his doctoral dissertation had not been nominated for an academic award.

6. Amish schoolhouse massacre – six dead plus shooter, 2 October 2, 2006, Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania

Charles Carl Roberts IV, 32, executes five girls aged 7 to 13 before killing himself in a small Amish schoolhouse

7. Jonesboro, Arkansas – five dead, 24 March 1998, Jonesboro, Arkansas

Mitchell Johnson, 10, and Andrew Golden, 8, took seven guns to school and pulled the fire alarm and shot students as they headed for the exits. Four died plus a teacher. The pair were sent to a juvenile detention center and released in 2005.

8. Cleveland Elementary School – five dead plus shooter, 17 January 1989, in Stockton, California

Patrick Edward Purdy entered a schoolyard and opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle at Cleveland Elementary School. Five children died and 30 others were wounded including one teacher. He then shot himself.

9. University of Arizona – three dead plus shooter, 28 October 2002, University of Arizona

Robert Flores, 40, a nursing student shot an instructor in her office before entering a classroom and killing two more teachers before committing suicide.

10. Kent State University – four dead, 4 May 1970, Kent State University in Ohio

National Guard troops killed four students who took part in anti-war protests on the campus of Kent State University in Ohio.

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Inspirational Quote Manifesto.

I said this. Then it got turned into a graphic. I love it.

I am a huge fan of reading artistic inspiration by Julia Cameron, poetic inspiration by Rumi, watching the Ira Glass video over and over again, and digging every little thing about excellence ever quoted by Aristotle. Finding the right inspirational words can be the match to my inner creative rocket fuel.

I’m also a big fan of online social networks. You can see from my sidebar that I splash around Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr on a regular basis. I love being part of several conversations at once, and my virtual community is important to me. It’s like being at the center table of an exciting, clever, international lunchroom. You never know who is going to chime in with what kind of thoughts or accidentally laugh so hard he squirts milk out his nose. I love it.

But sometimes the conversation gets really boring. Lately it seems like there are 8,345,987 zillion different inspirational quotes by people both famous and not famous floating around the ether on little colored boxes just like the one above. I see different versions of “Just do it!” and “Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not great!” and “Love is awesome!” and “Having your heart broken kinda sucks, doesn’t it?” and “Get out there and be winner!” and on and on and on.

I can very much appreciate how useful it is to quote someone else’s words when you’re in a situation where you need a kick in the proverbial pants. I have posted and cross posted my fair share of words that make me feel better over the last few years. They can create an intention for the day, share with friends how you’re feeling, let someone know that you need a boost, start a conversation. . . All good stuff.

But I’m seeing so many quote-ables and inspiration-als and hypergraphic-ed motivation-als that their original purpose has become diluted. I’ve got some serious inspiration burnout, and that makes me sad.

There is way more gossip, snark, depressing news, and cat video watching on the internet than there is authentic and meaningful conversation about daily life. That’s mostly because daily life for a middle class American is not fireworks or disaster – it just kinda is. Both our splashy media addiction and our desire for a good adrenaline rush have convinced us that isn’t enough. Perhaps we’re all rooting around like truffle hunters for something that will bring more meaning and excitement to Tuesday afternoon drudgery. Perhaps a famous person’s words emblazoned on a pretty color make us feel a bit more alive. Perhaps linking to a quote honors the incomplete reflection that hovers in the back of each of our minds and expresses one more layer of frustration and existential loneliness. . .

Whatever the reason, there’s no point to getting carried away. So please, friends of the internet: If you’ve got a quote to share, great – but use them more judiciously. Restrict yourself to two per week. Then, the rest of the time, when you have big, frustrating, existentially lonely, excited, scared, wondering, or explosive thoughts hovering in the back of your mind, use your own words. It feels a whole lot better.

Grappling with bystander responsibility: an essay

Do you remember high school? What about the fights that broke out in the lunch room? Remember how chaotic and stressful the school environment felt after seeing one? Yeah. I wrote about that.

My student Belinda got into a fight last year. It wasn’t a prissy, slappy, name-calling fight, either. It was a reality television-worthy, punch- throwing, eye-bruising fight that didn’t end until Belinda’s opponent had ripped the weave out of her hair and waved it around in front of the student spectators…

Read more of this essay at the Teaching Tolerance website. Teaching Tolerance is a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. A place to find thought-provoking news, conversation and support for those who care about diversity, equal opportunity and respect for differences in schools. Check them out!

Problems, solutions, etcetera . . .

Fag. Queer. Homo. Whore. Bitch. Slut. Retard.

Today at school, we had a presentation and Q/A from Jamie Nabozny, subject of the film Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case that Made History. In this 40 minute documentary, produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center (and Teaching Tolerance Magazine, who should totally hire me to be one of their bloggers), we learn the story of the constant homophobic harassment, physical assault, and torment that Jamie endured through his middle school and high school years in Ashland, Wisconsin. We showed this movie to (almost) all of the students at our school last week, and held peer-led discussion sessions afterward, to give them a chance to process and react. I didn’t get to facilitate one of those groups, due to some attendance issues, but apparently they went really well. And they prepared students for Jamie’s appearance at South High today.

Bullied is a great movie, and Jamie is an even better speaker. We have a large capacity auditorium – about 600 seats or so. We have to divide the school into three groups to get everyone through a presentation in a day, and I brought my students down for the third talk. Usually that means a sluggish presenter and kids who are too hungry to pay attention to anything, but that didn’t happen. He started off asking kids to raise their hands if they’d heard anyone called any of the following words in the last week: Fag. Queer. Homo. Whore. Bitch. Slut. Dumbass. Retard. Almost every hand went up for every word. And then, he asked how many students thought that everyone at our school showed up feeling safe every day. Five hands went up out of 600.

Woah. I’d never have guessed it was that bad. Given, I have a zero-tolerance policy for hate in my classroom, so the kids know enough to keep my classroom harassment-free. I don’t hear those words coming from them, but the hallways and lunchroom and bus are out of my range. I knew these kids – my kids – weren’t lying, and as Jamie told a bit of his story (for review, if anyone missed it) and went through how important it is to be aware of how much words can harm someone, there was near total silence in our school auditorium.

Silence. In a room full of 600+ hungry teenagers who would rather be wolfing down bags of flaming hot crunchy treats and plastic containers of apple juice, there was no fidgeting or side conversation or grabassery. It was magnificent. And incredibly sad – because I understood at that moment that my students may sometimes feel safe in my classroom where my big voice sticks up for everyone, but the kind of harassment and bullying that I may have believed didn’t exist there is more than occasional. It’s common.

I’ve had a handful of conversations with my friend Butch about bullying and how the worst part of being a victim in hostile situations is not being attacked by an aggressor. The worst part is knowing that there are spectators on the sidelines not doing anything to help you or stop the abuse. I spent the better part of my day post-auditorium talking with students about how important it is to say something when words are getting thrown at someone – because often, that prevents the fists. I’d like to say that the “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem” speech flew out of my mouth like a glittery ribbon of wisdom and joy. I’d like to say that all of my students heard me and we’re going to have a kumbaya potluck of hummus and chamomile tea out in the quad later this month – as soon as the snow stops. But mostly, I left the day feeling uncomfortable and sad that I can’t protect them from this unacceptable reality, and that I want to do a better job showing them that speaking up is the courageous thing to do.

So thank you, Jamie Nabozny and thank you, Teaching Tolerance for a brain and heart rattling day and for reminding me that just because I can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there. And thank you for making me just uncomfortable enough to do something different in my classes tomorrow.

don’t let collective bargaining die.

I don’t have the habit of bringing any sort of political debate into my blog space, but I’m absolutely appalled at what’s going on in Wisconsin right now. If you haven’t heard yet, here is a really great summary article by Mother Jones. Basically, WI Governor Scott Walker is trying to get rid of the collective bargaining rights of all of the state’s union workers — you know, people like teachers and nurses and most skilled blue collar workers who bust their tails at their jobs every day. Continue reading don’t let collective bargaining die.