Sharon Mohy wrote me a heartfelt email Thursday. It said she was from Libya. It seems her late father – Dr. Paraizad Hohy, was killed in a “faithful (sic) morning attack” by terrorists but before he was slain he deposited “US $7,200,000 million” in her name in a bank in Burkina Faso. She wants me to become her trustee (her father’s strict instructions) and – very quickly – needs my full address, my full name, my private phone number, my ID (plus a photograph) and my occupation so she can get going on this urgent request pronto.
Much to my chagrin I was attending a meeting of the Hamilton County Department Of Education’s Transition team at the time so I was unable to reply.
I listened as the transition team talked excitedly with Supt. Bryan Johnson about leadership, teacher recruitment and retention, and a new public relations push to “legitimize the brand.” Just by happenstance, another anonymous email arrived shortly after the US $7,200,000 million deal.
It was all about teacher recruitment and retention! This is what it said:
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“After being interviewed by the school administration, the prospective teacher said: "Let me see if I've got this right? You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning.
“You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually-transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self-esteem and personal pride.
“You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how to register to vote, balance a check book, and apply for a job. You want me to check their heads for lice, recognize signs of antisocial behavior, and ensure that they all pass their final exams.
“You also want me to provide them with an equal education regardless of their handicap and communicate regularly with their parents in English, Arabic or any other language, by letter, telephone, newsletter, and report card.
"You want me to do all this with a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a bulletin board, a few books, a big smile, and a starting salary that qualifies me for ‘New Start.’
“You want me to do all this, and then you tell me......I CAN NOT wear a necklace with a little cross, mention God, or say "Merry Christmas" because someone might take offense?
"Well, you know what you can do with your job … We all should have the same rights, whatever your religion.
“This should be posted in every school in America and all countries. Think about it! If Muslims can pray anywhere, why are Christians banned from praying in public and from erecting religious displays on their holy days? What happened to our National Day of Prayer?
“Muslims are allowed to block off major streets, in all American States and pray in the middle of the street! And it's a monthly ritual! Tell me, again, whose country is this? Ours or the Muslims?
“I was asked to send this on if I agree, or delete if I don't. It is said that 86% of Americans believe in God. Therefore, I have a very hard time understanding why there is such a problem in having 'God' in our education system or the Lord's Prayer said in our government, schools or public meetings. I believe it's time we stand up for what we believe!
“Please have the intestinal fortitude to pass this one along to everyone in your address book. Support America!”
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I get that the urgent letter from the millionaire babe is a scam. But the letter from the prospective new teacher isn’t quite such rabble and you and I know it. I’m all about living in harmony with other religions but what this says about our unquenchable demands on our teachers, making them remove the cross from their necklaces, and snuffing God out of the education process might be something for the HCDE Transition Team to bounce around.
If the new transition team is really serious about education, it should approach the problems nobody talks about yet every one of us recognize. One idea Thursday was to quit devoting every minute to problems; take time to celebrate the good that goes on in every school. What a great concept!
The transition team can make a big difference in our future if its very members will realize the way that they themselves have always done things is a big reason HCDE became stagnant. Supt. Johnson must lead some to a place known as “outside the box.” Until that happens, the same tired horses are going to finish where the same tired horses have for the past 15 years … last in the race.
Now is the time to be bold.