Category Archives: news

A Teacher’s Take on the Cheating Scandal

I know that wealth equals privilege.  I know that students whose parents are wealthy will get into college more easily since they can afford tutors, SAT prep, personal trainers, you name it.

That is part of the reason why I love working in an urban school where over 70% of my  students are on the free and reduced lunch program.   I strive to help these students to build the tools that they need to make themselves college and career ready.

I love it when the spring arrives and my seniors begin to receive their acceptance letters.  I also love it when former students contact me to thank me for preparing them for their college English courses, or to tell me about their interesting travel abroad experiences.

This week I am particularly excited because a student I taught as a junior last year has been accepted to Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, and now MIT.  This is the student success story that the world loves to hear.  This student is incredibly intelligent, but simultaneously humble.  He is simply a phenomenal human being despite his modest upbringing and I am so happy to have gotten to know him last year.

I have other students who have graduated from Tufts and MIT who are now enrolled in grad school and others who are making the world a better place through their careers.  Teachers are sometimes under-appreciated, but every time I hear from one of these students, I know that I am making a difference.

I have a letter that I give to my students on the first day of school that allows me to introduce myself to them and then I ask them to write a letter back to me as their first assignment of the year.  The last line of my letter reads as follows:

This year, I seek to teach you not only the components of writing, but also a course in ethics, because ultimately, your grades means nothing if you cannot look yourself in the mirror and be proud of the person you see.”

How fitting that sentence is in light of the recent college admissions cheating scandal.

Today, some of my students were saying how they know that it’s wrong to cheat, but they also know that they would probably do anything they could in order to get their future children into a good college.  They asked if I would do the same.

Now, granted, I’m not a parent, but I really don’t believe that I would.  I don’t want to raise privileged children who simply ask and receive; I want them to know the importance of hard work.  They should get rejected from some colleges they apply to because we all need some degree of failure in order to grow.

These celebrity parents are raising entitled children and no matter how much money I earn, that is not what I want for my kids.

Some people think it’s almost a waste to even fight the recent scandal, saying how there will always be parents who cheat (especially those who have the financial means to do so).  They mention how it’s always been known that some families make massive donations to Ivy League schools with the hopes that their children will then be accepted.

But here’s the thing: I don’t care about the fact that some cheaters aren’t caught.  Sure, there will always be cheaters, but that doesn’t mean we give up. We can’t just wallow in the fact that people will always cheat; rather, we must keep trying our best to eliminate as much of it as possible.

Every college placement that was filled by a student who cheated or whose parent cheated is a spot that a deserving student was unable to attain.

I teach some of those deserving students who are rejected because their family has no high standing in society.  Most of my students have parents who have never attended college, some of whom have never even finished high school.  Many of my students have parents who are not fluent in the English language.  These parents cannot fight for their children as much as they might like to because of language barriers.

These students grew up without tutoring and SAT prep courses.  They had parents who often could not help them with their homework. Many of them came home to empty houses after school, since their parents were working long hours trying to make ends meet.

These are the students who know that hard work pays off.  These students who were able to succeed in high school and enter college are one of my greatest sources of joy as a teacher.

I understand that some of them are upset with the recent scandal (I am upset myself).  They have every right to be angry, but I just keep reminding them that ethics and character still matter.  Students who got into college as a result of a scam don’t understand the value of hard work.  They have no idea what it means to struggle through the daily obstacles of life.  My students do, and I believe that because of that, they will be more prepared for the world they enter upon graduation because they know that everything in life will not simply be handed to them.

My students will be able to live with the confidence that anything they achieve is truly a result of their own perseverance.  They will be able to look themselves in the mirror every day and be proud of the person they see looking back at them.

It may sound naive, but that has to count for something.  I recently read a book entitled The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead by David Callahan.  He examines cheating in all aspects, from lawyers who lie about their billable hours, to pharmaceutical companies knowingly promoting drugs with major side effects, to plagiarism, to athletes who use performance-enhancing drugs.

What happens is that we see other people getting ahead as a result of cheating and this causes us to justify our own cheating.  He’s cheating, so it’s only fair if I do, too. This leads to a perpetual cycle of cheating, and there is no clear solution.

I try my best to avoid cheating, although Callahan makes it clear how we have all done this from time to time, even in minor ways.  Ever downloaded music illegally?  Gotten extra change and kept it rather than returning it to the cashier? Embellished a resume?  Failed to report under-the-table income?  Re-used a stamp that wasn’t cancelled?

We’re all guilty at times.  But the only way I can see a change happening is by maintaining a high degree of ethics and morals myself.  My students know that I strive to be an overall good person.  I try to instill ethical behavior into them as frequently as possible.  We have conversations about honesty and integrity and they see my disappointment when I catch them plagiarizing.

If my students see many of their parents, teachers, and peers acting in an ethical manner, they will follow suit.  But if they see all of us lying, stealing and cheating our way into success, they will mimic that behavior.

I don’t have the answers, but I do know that character counts, even today when it sometimes seems like all hope is lost.  Because of my faith, I know that my ultimate goal of Heaven will only be fulfilled if I maintain an upright character.  It doesn’t matter how much power people achieve through false means here on earth; that will not help them to inherit the kingdom of God.  And even for those who do not believe in God, they can consider the idea that what goes around comes around.

So I will continue to be proud of the woman I see in the mirror because I know the hard work that was necessary to get to the place I am in today.  I know that I did not get any college admissions, degrees, jobs, or awards as a result of any cheating or fraud.  I do not have to fear the embarrassment and shame that would occur if I had deep dark secrets that I didn’t want to get released.

 

 

 

 

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How Do I Live in a Country that Allows Infanticide?

I recently wrote a couple of blogs about New York’s new abortion laws (see: Abortion is Not a Celebration and Full Text of the Reproductive Health Act).

But now, our politicians are voting on whether living, breathing human babies have the right to life.  This has nothing to do with abortion.

People who are pro-choice used to determine whether abortion was acceptable based on the moment they agreed that life started.  Many would say somewhere around 21-24 weeks was the time frame.

Recently, many have decided that life only begins at birth.

But now, even babies that are fully born are not safe.  44 Senate Democrats voted on Monday to block a bill that would have provided protection to babies that were born accidentally during an attempted abortion.  It was called the Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act and there were only 3 Democrats who did not vote to block it. THREE.

This bill was simply trying to protect the babies that were born alive; it did not change anything with regard to abortion laws.  It would allow for penalties (fines and jail time) for doctors who did not care for a baby that was born alive.  Everyone can agree that these are living babies, but some are arguing that they still don’t have the right to life, even after birth.  I truly cannot fathom this point of view.

If a live baby is born (even though an abortion was attempted), how can anyone choose to either kill it intentionally or let it die as a result of not caring for it or feeding it? People may not agree with my views on abortion, but I thought that most people agreed that infanticide was a heinous crime.

But this is what happens with the slippery slope of abortion.  First, abortion is legalized during the first trimester, then in the second, then in the third, and then any moment up until birth, but what is happening now cannot be called abortion.  Abortion requires a pregnant mother.  What is being legalized now is blatant infanticide –the killing of a precious and defenseless human baby.

Some people may argue that this type of situation is rare.  I don’t care.  Is murder allowed as long as it’s not common?  No.  One baby that is left to die from a botched abortion is one too many.

Many news sources are saying that babies never survive abortion.  Fine.  Then why block a bill like this?  In that view, a doctor would then never be fined, end of story.  They are incorrect.  No, it’s not common, but it’s possible and it does happen.

Yes, the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002 already exists, but it provides zero penalties to doctors and it mentions nothing specifically about what type of medical care is required.  The new act was going to ensure that a living baby was given necessary medical care if it was alive.  It would have also punished doctors who failed to heed that protocol.

There are plenty of parents who want to adopt.  We don’t have to force that mother to parent the baby, but let’s feed it and protect it and put it up for adoption.  How can anyone live with themselves knowing that they think it is perfectly acceptable to kill that baby?

I simply cannot understand.  I am heartbroken.  I am irate.  I am ashamed of this godforsaken country that thinks that it is progressive.  No, we’re not.  We’re shameful.

We’re full of thousands of people who agree with my stance but who are too indifferent to even make themselves aware of the news.  Too indifferent to care about what is happening outside of their own needs.  Too busy having “me time” and swimming in narcissism to care about things that actually matter.  Disgusting.

The Evils of Indifference

One of my favorite speeches to teach is Elie Wiesel’s “The Perils of Indifference.”  This speech was given on April 12, 1999 in Washington, D.C.  Elie Wiesel is the author of the book entitled Night.  He is a Holocaust survivor, political activist, and Nobel prize winner.

The message of his speech is that indifference is the greatest evil, even more than direct hatred.  That may sound confusing, but let me explain by pulling together quotes from his speech…

He starts off by remembering the day he was rescued, the day when the American soldiers entered his prison camp.  He “remembers their rage at what they saw” and he describes how he continues to feel grateful for that rage.

If the soldiers seemed unfazed upon entering the prison, that would show a lack of compassion.  That is the exact problem with many people today: their indifference.

I can tell people all about stories from my mission trips and although they are interested in the stories, they just don’t  care enough to donate money, volunteer, or get involved in any other way.  They believe that the people who are dying in other countries aren’t their problem.  They are indifferent.  Rather than feeling hatred at Joseph Kony or other genocidaires, they just ignore the problem and act like it doesn’t matter, or they say something about Africans being savages who cannot be saved.  This indifference is dangerous.

I think it is safe to assume that the majority of people on this globe suffer from indifference.  They are too concerned about the problems that only affect themselves and their inner circle of friends and family.  Anything outside of that circle simply isn’t their concern.

But that is exactly what allows evil to run rampant: a large group of people who don’t  care enough to do anything about these evils.

Wiesel continues his speech by emphasizing the gratitude he feels toward America for finally stepping in during the Holocaust.  He then defines indifference as, etymologically, “no difference,” proceeding to ask a few rhetorical questions about it.  Is it a virtue?  “Is it necessary at times to practice it simply to keep one’s sanity, live normally, enjoy a fine meal and a glass of wine, as the world around us experiences harrowing upheavals?”

But then he quickly provides a clear response: no.  It is not a virtue. He admits that it can be “tempting” and “seductive,” but to the person who is the victim of such indifference, it can mean life or death.  While the indifferent person enjoys his glass of wine, the people who are victims of mindless atrocities are losing their lives.

Now, I think that at times, some indifference may be necessary so as to not be constantly feeling depressed about the state of the world, or feeling that there is no hope.  I don’t think it is wrong for me to go out to dinner, go on a vacation, or enjoy my own life.  However, this is only true if I also do my part in tackling such indifference.  If I always ignore the problems of the world, as many people do, then I have a serious problem.

I travel on mission trips to try to improve the lives of those I serve, at least in small ways.  I make donations toward organizations that are out working in the trenches to improve our world.  I teach my students to be ethical, responsible citizens.  I’m not a perfect person, as I know that my acts of service are not able to entirely change the world.  But there are many American adults who never give a penny to charity, who have never volunteered (or stopped after they didn’t need it anymore for college applications).  It is these people who shouldn’t have the pleasure of enjoying that glass of wine with dinner, forgetting about the children who are being raped and maimed at the hand of sadistic leaders who continue to get away with murder (literally) because nobody has stopped them.

“To be indifferent to that suffering is what makes the human being inhuman.”  

Sometimes, I feel completely overwhelmed by the problems of the world.  There are so many horrible problems that I wish I could solve.  Poverty.  Hunger.  Malnutrition.  Lack of access to clean water.  Sex trafficking.  Slavery.  Addiction.  Abortion.  Euthanasia.  A disregard for the sanctity of life at all stages.  Pornography.  Global warming.  The extinction of animal species.  Healthcare.  Racism.  The justice system.  The war on drugs.  Homelessness.  And on and on and on.

I cannot fathom how so many people live their lives without ever consider the people who suffer on a daily basis.  I probably donate more money and volunteer more hours than many Americans, but I still sometimes feel guilty when too much time has passed since I felt I made a significant contribution toward the betterment of society.  I just don’t understand how people can spend five hours each night watching Netflix and never feel ashamed by their wasted time.  It can make them almost inhuman because of their complete disregard for humanity.

Wiesel says that indifference “is more dangerous than anger and hatred.”  That may sound surprising.  Isn’t it the bigot who is worse than the person who ignores the problem?  Isn’t it the rapist who is more evil than the bystander?

No.  Because the bystander it a good person who is allowing that rape to take place.  That bystander knows that what he is witnessing is wrong, but he is too concerned about his own safety to help the victim.  I’m not making excuses at all, but maybe the rapist is high on drugs and not fully aware of his actions.  Maybe the rapist has a mental illness.  None of that excuses the rape, but if the bystander is aware of the evil that is taking place, doesn’t he have an obligation to help?  If he knows it is wrong and does nothing, then he might as well be an accomplice.  Society can agree that the rapist is evil.  The bystander, however, has now also become evil if he does nothing.

Take this 2010 story from The New York Post as an example.  A homeless man in Queens saved a woman from a man who was attacking her with a knife, only to be attacked himself.  Surveillance footage shows him lying in a pool of blood while 25 bystanders walk by.  He saved the woman and was attacked himself some time around 5:40am, only to be found by firefighters at 7:23am.  Were his wounds fatal at 5:40?  I don’t know, but by 7:23 he was dead.

Those bystanders should feel partially responsible for his death.  They didn’t have to face any danger to save this man’s life (or at least attempt to).  They could have just taken out their phone and dialed 911.  Was that too much effort for them?  Was it simply easier to turn their head and walk away?

This isn’t just the case in America.  A Chinese girl was run over by a truck and there is video footage of witnesses doing nothing.  In the very beginning of Peter Singer’s TED Talk, “The Why and How of Effective Altruism,” he shows the video.  People walk right past her body and do nothing, to the point that she is run over again before a man finally helps, though it is too late.  She is dead.

This is why indifference is more dangerous than hatred.  That doesn’t mean that murderers and rapists are good, but they are fewer in number than those who are indifferent.  The murderer is still committing an evil crime, but there are times when it has only occurred as a result of good people doing nothing.  They are facilitating the murder.

“Indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor — never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten.”  Hitler would have loved those who were indifferent.  Why?  Because they weren’t stopping him.  No, they may not have been directly killing people, but indirectly, they were aiding the process.

Martin Luther King Jr., in his letter from Birmingham Jail, asserts that “the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

It is easy to condemn the extremists whose horrible actions are broadcast all over the news.  But they are in the minority.  The majority of the world is comprised of good people who are silent.  They are people who are good, but timid.  People who are cowardly when it matters the most.

It is their silence that allows evil to continue.  There’s a line from William Shakespeare’s play, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar that reads “cowards die many times before their death; the valiant taste of death but once.”  Every time we good people are silent when we know that we must do something, we are “dying” to ourselves.  We’re too afraid to stand up for truth, for justice, for humanity.

“Indifference, then, is not only a sin, it is a punishment.”  If I act indifferently, I don’t just ignore the child soldier; I punish him even more by allowing his captors to keep him in that position without facing resistance.

If I am indifferent, I continue buying those diamond rings, thereby allowing the blood diamond industry to continue and to make profit from me.  Rather than helping those who are suffering, I am abetting the enemy.

Elie Wiesel says how the Holocaust consisted of three types of people: victims, killers, and bystanders.  Which group was the worst?

Most people would quickly say it was the killers.  But by sheer number, there were many more bystanders who were doing nothing.  Such bystanders could have stopped the killers before the extermination of millions of Jews.  But they didn’t.  That is the problem of indifference.

To me, the most heartbreaking moment of Wiesel’s speech is when he says how “our only miserable consolation was that we believed that Auschwitz and Treblinka were closely guarded secrets. If they knew, we thought, surely those leaders would have moved heaven and earth to intervene. They would have spoken out with great outrage and conviction. They would have bombed the railways leading to Birkenau, just the railways, just once.”

He and his fellow prisoners believed that the world didn’t know about their plight.  They thought it was a huge secret because surely, somebody would have stepped in if they had known, wouldn’t they?

But that wasn’t the case.  America knew.  Other nations knew.  But their indifference took hold.

Wiesel brings up something that we never learn about in American history classes.  He explains what happened with the St. Louis.  It was a ship that was carrying almost 1,000 Jews to safety in 1939.  They were going to enter Cuba and then the United States with visas that they had previously applied for.  The quick version of the story is the fact that this ship was turned away.  28 passengers were allowed to disembark, but Cuba refused to allow that for the rest of the passengers.  The boat was sent back to Europe.  Wiesel says he doesn’t understand why Roosevelt allowed that to take place.  He proceeds to ask numerous rhetorical questions:

Why the indifference, on the highest level, to the suffering of the victims?”

Why was there a greater effort to save SS murderers after the war than to save their victims during the war?”

Why did some of America’s largest corporations continue to do business with Hitler’s Germany until 1942?”

It all comes down to indifference, which is still a problem today.  I wrote a blog a while back entitled Hard Work and Determination Aren’t Always Enough.  After posting it on Facebook, I knew that some people would disagree. But worse than those who blatantly disagree are those who are indifferent.  Those who don’t care about the plight of the black race in America.

We must rally up good people who have the courage to stand up against the evils of this world.  Too many people feel like they can’t really elicit major change.  While that may be true at times, think of all the change that would occur if every indifferent person spent even a small amount of time fighting back.  This whole world would change.

The recent abortion laws have been my most recent frustration.  I believe that abortion is an evil that must be fought.  There are thousands of people in the United States who agree with me.  The problem is that they would rather not ruffle feathers.

They will tell me how horrible abortion is, but when I ask them to become involved in Pro-Life work, they sheepishly back away.

When I offer that they can come pray outside of the abortion clinic with me, they suddenly stop responding to my messages.

So although they call themselves “pro-life,” are they really?  They may think that they are, but in reality, they’re just helping the abortionists to continue the work that they are doing.

If we want the world to change, we need armies of people standing up against the evils.  We need groups of indifferent people realizing that they must end their indifference and use their courage for good.

Elie Wiesel was grateful that the soldiers who entered his prison camp showed rage.  He needed to see that people had realized the evil that was taking place during the Holocaust.

Let us all give up our indifference, even if only for short periods of time. Together, we can change the world.

 

Full Text of the Reproductive Health Act

Since there is an abundance of biased news sources reporting on New York’s Reproductive Health Act of 2019, I have decided to read through the language of the actual bill to ensure a non-biased look into its language.  Full text here.

Here is what stands out to me:

Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States.

As a teacher of rhetoric, I know a logical fallacy when I see one.  What evidence is there to back that claim?  The bill itself provides none.  One of the safest medical procedures compared to what?  What exactly constitutes a medical procedure?  Is it safer to have an abortion than to get my blood drawn?  Probably not.  Safer than an EKG?  No.  Safer than an MRI?  Nope.

Here are some risks from abortions:

-pelvic infection

-blood clots in the uterus

-heavy bleeding

-cut or torn cervix

-puncture or tear of the wall of the uterus

-anesthesia-related complications

-scar tissue on the uterine wall, which can lead to future infertility or miscarriages

-depression

(Even the abortion pill can cause bleeding, blood clots, and infection, according to Planned Parenthood’s website)

Okay, let’s keep reading the bill.

A health practitioner licensed, certified, or authorized under title eight of the Education Law, acting within his or her lawful scope of practice, may perform an abortion when according to the practitioner’s reasonable and good faith professional judgement based on the facts of the patient’s case: the patient is within 24 weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.”

“Or health” is concerning to me.  This isn’t about saving a mother’s life.  Countless OB-GYNs have said that third trimester abortions are never medically necessary to save a mother’s life because the baby could just be delivered alive and still live.

But what could now fit the “or health” aspect of the bill?  Can a mother who is fed up with gestational diabetes choose an abortion?  One who is sick and on bed rest?  “Health” is much too vague.

“‘Person,’ when referring to a victim of a homicide, means a human being who has been born and is alive.”

So there won’t be any double counts of murder for a guy who murders his pregnant girlfriend.  But what happens if he beats her up badly, but only enough to kill the baby that is living inside of her?  What happens then?

Pregnancy can actually be a trigger for domestic violence.  This bill is not helping that situation at all.

 

Government Shutdown Lunacy

I haven’t been blogging lately, but recent news events have me so frustrated, that I just need to rant a bit.

So the government shutdown is a horrible situation for thousands of government workers.  I don’t care if you’re a Democrat, Republican, or Independent – we can all agree that the workers who have been furloughed are facing tough times.  34 days without a salary is a big deal.

While I was walking on the treadmill at the gym today, I saw a CNN report from U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. (see article) He can’t understand why so many furloughed workers are going to homeless shelters for food.  He says that any bank will give them money.

Initially, I thought that maybe the banks were doing something I hadn’t heard about.  Maybe they’re all helping to give temporary money to these workers.

Think again.  He’s talking about loans.

He admitted that these workers would have to pay interest, but “the idea that it’s paycheck or zero is not a really valid idea.”

Um what?  That’s exactly the situation: a paycheck or none.  Any random person cannot simply walk into a bank and walk out with money.  It’s not that simple.  And even if they do, they will now need to pay interest.  That’s no small potatoes.  But obviously this billionaire doesn’t have to worry about where his food is coming from.

He even suggested that 800,000 furloughed workers isn’t that large of a number.  He said, “And while I feel sorry for the individuals that have hardship cases, 800,000 workers if they never got their pay — which is not the case, they will eventually get it — but if they never got it, you’re talking about a third of a percent on our GDP. So, it’s not like it’s a gigantic number overall.”

I was listening to these idiotic comments while walking on the treadmill today and I couldn’t help but continue to shake my head in disgust.

Some of the politicians who are trying to end the government shutdown don’t realize the disastrous results it has on some families.  They can’t understand why these families are struggling.  And 800,000 doesn’t sound like a large number to them.

How can this be real life?

Ross is also disappointed by the workers who refuse to return to work after being ordered to by Trump.  Did he consider that working at McDonald’s is a better option right now than to go back to work for free?

Secret service agents are being forced to basically volunteer.  And that means risking their lives.  For free.

I’m all about volunteering, but the President forcing you to work for free isn’t the same thing.  Maybe Trump should pay some of these workers out of his own pocket.  If he needs secret service agents, then he can pay them.  Otherwise, he should be on his own.

Lara Trump (daughter-in-law of Trump), like Ross, made ignorant comments about the shutdown.  She said, “It is a little bit of pain but it’s going to be for the future of our country.” (See USA Today article).  A “little bit of pain”?  Excuse me, but people being unable to pay their mortgage payment, electric bills, car payments is more than a “little bit” of pain.  Not being able to buy food or gas is terrifying for these families, especially since there is no end in sight.

I thought that we lived in a Democratic nation that is for the people, by the people, but I’m beginning to question that.

A border wall is not necessary.  It’s not like we’re being attacked by an enemy force.  The fact that our government is allowing American families to go hungry because they cannot agree over a wall is complete lunacy.

The immigrants that some members of the government are so afraid of have never caused even close to the amount of damage that is now in existence as a result of our good ol’ government.

I am incredibly thankful that no members of my immediate family are government workers, but I am pained for those who are struggling right now.

America should be ashamed of herself.  She is allowing Americans with full-time jobs to fall into poverty, at no fault of their own.  We like to talk about the American Dream and how we just need to work to get ahead in America, but it’s simply untrue.  You can have a good, steady job in America, but because of the government, this job can tell you that you need to report for free, and you may or may not be paid back.

Guess what?  Our members of Congress are still getting paid.  The lives of 800,000 workers sit in their hands, but they don’t feel the effects themselves.

This is the America in which we are living in 2019.

This is going to go down in history as an embarrassment for our nation.  I’m already embarrassed.  I am by no means proud to be an American today.

Abortion is Not a Celebration

Every piece of news I hear regarding New York’s Reproductive Health Act of 2019 (RHA) sickens me even worse.  How this law is being celebrated I cannot even fathom.

See, I am against abortion for a variety of reasons, and I understand that some of those reasons coincide with my Catholic faith.  However, I don’t think it is necessary to be Catholic or even to believe in God in order to see how horrible this bill truly is.  And I think that Bishop Scharfenberger explained all of this quite nicely in his letter to Governor Cuomo.

First, he mentioned how Cuomo has said that he is Catholic and has said that we should “stand with Pope Francis” on previous occasions.  He cannot proclaim a Catholic faith while also allowing for the killing of defenseless babies.

The bishop says that this bill is an example of “aggressive extremism,” which is absolutely true.  As a teacher of rhetoric and argument, abortion sometimes comes up in the papers my students write for me.  Although some of them think differently than I do about abortion, they always say that it needs limits.  There is no reason for a woman who is 8 months pregnant to need an abortion.  Even if her life is in danger, the baby can be removed while keeping both the baby and the mother alive.  That baby is fully viable and can live outside of the womb if it isn’t brutally killed.

This bill even allows “non-doctors” to perform abortions.  WHAT?  Nurses, PAs and midwives will be allowed to perform the.  I know that the pro-choice camp likes to mention those dangerous back-alley abortions as a reason for legalization.  But now you don’t even need to be a certified medical doctor?  Abortions already come along with a slew of potential complications that any abortionist readily admits because, like all surgery, there is room for error and side effects.  So now we will allow people who are not certified medical doctors to perform them?  This is NOT a protection of women’s lives; it is the exact opposite.

The bill also removes criminal sanctions for pregnant women who are murdered.  So a perpetrator who kills a pregnant woman will no longer receive two counts of murder, at least in the state of New York.  And what about those angry boyfriends who beat their girlfriends/wives badly enough to kill the baby but not the mother.  He will not be charged with unlawful killing?  Yet we view this as a protection of women’s rights?  I would be more afraid to be a pregnant woman in the state of New York now than before the passing of this bill because I know that I will have no protection if someone wants my baby dead.

The bishop says, “Condoning coerced or involuntary abortions by repealing criminal sanctions even in cases where a perpetrator seeks to make his partner “un-pregnant” through an act of physical violence does not represent any kind of progress in the choice, safety or health of women.”

Typing this, I have a combination of anger and despair.  I am livid that New York has enough politicians who view this bill as a success, but I also grieve for the precious lives that are going to be lost.  I grieve for the mothers who are going to battle depression and potentially suicidal thoughts.  The mothers who may feel guilt for the rest of their lives.  Now I know that not every woman will react this way, but many of them will.

The bishop continues, “Removing protection for an infant accidentally born alive during an abortion is abject cruelty, something most people of conscience would deem inhumane for even a dog or cat. Finally, allowing late-term abortions is nothing less than a license to kill a pre-born child at will.

So what happens if a baby is “accidentally” born alive during abortion?  It can now be killed?  Now we are legalizing infanticide as well?

See, the thing is, that the argument surrounding abortion used to come down to people disagreeing about when life begins: conception, birth, or some time in between.  But that doesn’t even matter anymore.  Anyone would agree that a live baby that is outside of its mother is a living, breathing human being.  But we can still allow for its intentional death?

Nobody used to argue that a woman who was 9 months pregnant didn’t have a human being inside of her.  The problem is that now it doesn’t seem to matter to the world at large when life begins.  They can acknowledge that it is life; they just don’t mind putting an end to that life.

The bishop also says that he finds himself “wondering how it can be viewed as “progress” to have gone from a society working to make abortion “rare” to one that urges women to “shout your abortion” as some advocates of this bill boldly announce.”

Abortion advocates used to say that abortion should be a woman’s right, but they also hoped that it would be rare.  Instead, we now praise the women who have the “courage” to “shout their abortion.”  We seek to put abortions more out in the open.

So an abortion is something to be proud about?  I don’t think too many people are happy about their need for an abortion.  Nobody wants to get pregnant and end it.  It is a difficult process for anyone involved and I don’t think that “shouting out” their abortion is helping the emotional state of these women.

With the #MeToo movement, more women are opening up about sexual harassment and assault that was committed against them.  But they aren’t proud of that fact.  Rather, they are sharing their trauma.

Instead of shouting out about our abortions in a positive way, we need more women shouting about the damage that was done to their bodies, their families, and their emotional well-being as a result of their abortion.  We need them to share the pain they endured (and are still enduring) as a result of their abortion.

We need more people like Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood Director who had abortions herself.  She left Planned Parenthood after 8 years after learning about all of the lies she had propagated while working for them.  She now works to help other abortion workers to leave their jobs.  There is an upcoming film about Abby’s life the is coming out, called Unplanned, and the actress who plays Abby, Ashley Bratcher, knows that she may be blacklisted from future Hollywood films as a result of her involvement with this type of movie.

We need more people like Lila Rose, President of Live Action, who, although never having had an abortion herself, conducts undercover research in abortion facilities across America, exposing how the clinics do not recommend young women who have been victims of statutory rape to report the crime but rather only suggest abortion. (She posed as a 15-year-old girl impregnated by a 23-year-old man and they advised her not to go to the police.)  She has proven that Planned Parenthood intentionally breaks laws and covers up abuse.

We need people like Stephanie Gray, founder of Love Unleashes Life, who is an international speaker who makes logical, secular arguments against abortion.  She has debated abortion advocates.  I watched her debate with late-term abortionist, Dr. Fraser Fellows in front of medical students.  Although she has a religious background, she can shut down pro-choice arguments through the use of stories, questioning, and logical arguments.  She also gave a talk at Google about abortion.

The bishop also said, “How is it progress to ignore the harm that this will do, not only to innocent infants, born and unborn, but to their mothers? Does the heartache of so many New York women who have been pained by their abortion decisions matter? Is anyone listening to them? How is it really “pro-choice” when a law, which claims to guarantee choice, moves to expand only one option for women?

Dr. Fraser Fellows, a late-term abortionist, admitted to Stephanie Gray in their debate that some of the women definitely have emotional problems after their abortion.  But our society isn’t looking at that more closely.  And it’s even interesting that he is considered a late-term abortionist.  He could only perform abortions under 24 weeks gestation.  Now, if he was a New York resident, what he does wouldn’t even be considered late-term.  We can now kill babies at 36 weeks pregnancy.

At 24 weeks old, a baby already looks like a baby.  It has the potential to survive.  This is a premature baby at 24 weeks old:

Image result for baby 24 weeks

Dr. Fellows would dismember it, remove it from the woman, and then piece it back together to ensure that none of it was left inside of the mother.  For many people, this is gruesome to consider.  Many pro-choice advocates even think that this should not be allowed.

But New York just took it a step further.  New York will allow for the death of a fully grown baby, if that is what the mother wishes.  That baby would look more like this one:

Image result for baby at 36 weeks

Stephanie Gray spoke to a woman whose child died as a result of the Rwandan Genocide.  Her child was slaughtered to death with a machete.  Almost anyone would agree that the situation was horrific and despicable.

Yet she said the the death that follows abortion is worse.  Why?  Because she and her child had the ability to run away from their assailant.  The unborn baby has no  protection.

Image result for rwandan genocide  vs abortion image.

The bishop asks some interesting questions as he continues his letter: “If abortion is deemed a fundamental right in New York State, will the State then still be able to issue licenses to pro-life nurses or physicians? Will health facilities which do not provide abortions be certified? Will the law allow that even one dollar be given to maternity services without offering women the “choice” of abortion? These are unanswered questions, but I shudder to think of the consequences this law will wreak. You have already uttered harsh threats about the welcome you think pro-lifers are not entitled to in our state. Now you are demonstrating that you mean to write your warning into law. Will being pro-life one day be a hate crime in the State of New York?

I recently began looking for an OBGYN who does not perform abortions.  This was actually more of a difficult task than I originally expected.  I have to drive an hour to get to this doctor.  My other option is almost 2 hours away.  Not everyone in the state of New Jersey is pro-choice, but it is difficult today to be a pro-life doctor and we don’t even have New York’s new law passed here.

I will not go to a doctor who would give me the option of abortion, but as society supposedly “progresses,” my choices are being eliminated.  I want the choice to have a doctor who is against abortion the same way that I am.  I want to choose to not support an organization that kills babies.  However, I am in a teacher’s union.  Many teacher unions help to fund Planned Parenthood.  Part of the salary of these teachers allows abortions to be performed.  These teachers are forced to perpetuate abortions.  They have no choice.

Give me my choice back.  See, we say we want choice, but that’s far from the truth.  We don’t want women to choose.  We just think we know better.  We think that any unplanned pregnancy would be better off being ended.

But what about adoption?  Is it difficult to endure 9 months of pregnancy only to give the baby away?  Absolutely.  But sometimes that is the best option.  There are many difficult things in life that we simply need to endure.  Is working out difficult? Yes, but if we want a healthy body, we must persist.  Is it difficult to watch a family member suffer through an illness?  Yes, but we don’t just turn our backs on them because it’s too hard.  We suffer with them.  And there is a lot to be said about suffering and its redemptive power.

The people we view as heroes are those who have surpassed insurmountable odds.  Those who have faced horrible situations and suffering but who have made it out stronger.  As human beings, we suffer, plain and simple, but it makes us stronger.

There are so many people in America who yearn to adopt.  Many families struggle with infertility, yet it is difficult to adopt today.  Why?  Because our babies are being killed rather than being put up for adoption.  Now, part of the reason that adoption takes so long in our country is because of the home study and pre-placement period.  But even after that is complete, many people must wait months and even years to have a placement.  Some wait 5 years before bringing a child home.  That’s not just because of the legal process.  It’s because babies that would have been adopted are instead being killed.

In 2016, Planned Parenthood made only 1 adoption referral for every 149 abortions.  Is adoption a difficult option for a pregnant woman?  Absolutely.  But then she has the knowledge that her baby will be safe and loved rather than dead.  An abortion costs around $1500.  Adoption is free because the adoptive family pays for all medical expenses.

If more women who were pregnant and informed about the benefits of adoption, I am sure that the numbers of abortions would decrease, but that’s not the reality.  Planned Parenthood doesn’t want adoptions.  They would lose money.  Their revenue comes mainly from their abortion services.

2019, you’re not looking so great.

First, the longest ever government shutdown which is already posing disastrous effects on thousands of government employees.

Now the RHA being passed in  New York.

These are tough times in which we’re living; they are not times that we should be proud of and celebrate.

 

Legalized Abortions Hurt Women

How am I living in a world in which people are celebrating a law that allows for the killing of unborn babies?  How is the state of New York celebrating today?  How has our country stooped so low?

Governor Cuomo even lit the top of the One World Trade Center pink in order to shine a light that he wants our entire nation to follow.

What he fails to understand is that this law is not helping Americans; instead, it is going to lead to further devastation among families, especially women, those he thinks he is protecting.

This bill allows for abortion through the entirety of a woman’s pregnancy.  That means that we are going to be killing fully grown babies that have the ability to live outside of the mother’s womb.  Even if you believe that a younger fetus isn’t fully human, nobody can tell me that a baby at 9 months old isn’t human.  We’re basically legalizing infanticide.

When pregnant women were murdered, their assailant used to be charged with two counts of murder, but that is no longer the case, at least in the state of New York.

It is absolutely sickening.

How do people believe we are protecting women through this law?  It has been proven time and time again how many women who have had abortions face extreme amounts of depression and suicidal thoughts.  We aren’t removing a faulty organ; we’re removing a human life.  If a woman is 9 months pregnant and her life is in danger, a baby can be removed without an abortion.  It can survive a cesarean section at that point.  We’re not just killing some cells; we’re killing a helpless human being that is completely defenseless.

I could go on forever, but I will stop here.  It’s too sickening to consider any longer right now.

Arm Teachers With Guns or Students With…Rocks?

The other day, I was scrolling through the news headlines when I saw this article: “School Supplying Rocks for Students to Throw at Any Shooters: ‘They Will be Stoned.’

I guess it’s better than having guns in the classrooms, but really?  This sounds so absurd I can’t believe that it’s true.

Let’s grab piles of rocks, keep them in buckets, and in the event of a school shooter, let’s train the kids to pelt them with rocks.  Yep.  That’s a great solution.

Come on.  Are rocks really going to stop a person (who is likely mentally unstable) who is armed with an AK-47 or AR-15?  Doubtful.

Not to mention the safety concerns of intentionally providing weapons in every classroom.

I would be nervous that the kids would start using them if they get into an argument with another student (or maybe even a teacher).  Before even thinking, they can easily reach for a rock to throw across the room.

The superintendent of the district said this: “Every classroom has been equipped with a five-gallon bucket of river stone. If an armed intruder attempts to gain entrance into any of our classrooms, they will face a classroom full students armed with rocks and they will be stoned,” he said, per WNEP 16.

How can he say that seriously?

Helsel said he came up with the idea himself and chose river stone because the rocks are “the right size for hands, you can throw them very hard, and they will create or cause pain, which can distract.”

Thank you for the clarification, Mr. Superintendent.  I’m grateful that these aren’t just ordinary rocks.  River stone makes all the difference.

I’m curious what practice lockdowns look like in his schools.  Are these river stones just flying across the halls?

How about we address more of the heart of the issue?  Why don’t we try to determine why so many of our youth in America experience this desire to kill?  Arming students with rocks to kill school shooters doesn’t solve the problem of school shooters.

What about mental health problems in America and the way they are dealt with?  What about stricter gun control so that ordinary Americans cannot obtain assault rifles?  What about stricter laws about background checks of those purchasing guns?  What about bullying and cyberbullying?  What about the breakdown of the family and the problems that correspond with that, in addition to the foster care system?  What about violent films and video games?  What about the media and the way it sensationalizes criminals so that others begin to desire to go down in similar infamy?

There are so many problems.  I understand that this superintendent probably has good intentions; he wants to keep his students and faculty members safe.  But piling river stones into buckets just sounds silly.

 

 

No, We Don’t Need More Guns in Our Schools

The headlines over the past week have been awful.  Unfortunately, that isn’t just because of the shooting in Parkland, Florida, but also because of President Trump’s reactions to the shooting.

Despite the idiocy of Trump, though, I am so impressed by the many Parkland teens who are standing up and advocating for stricter gun laws.  Emma Gonzalez showed such passion in her speech:

She even confronted a spokeswoman from the NRA who was evading her question about banning bump stocks and semi-automatic weapons.  She brought up the fact that Trump was the one who helped to repeal a law that made it more difficult for people with mental illnesses to purchase guns.  She is adamant that the laws become stricter.

But while the students fight for tougher gun laws, President Trump does the opposite.  His solution is to arm teachers.

Initially, there was outcry from numerous sources upon hearing Trump’s idea, so he later followed up prior comments by explaining that he doesn’t mean that any teacher should be given a gun.  Instead, it should be teachers with military backgrounds.

He cited random, fake statistics, saying that 10% of teachers in one school might fit the situation while 40% in another school would.  Now, I don’t know what schools are like in the south, but I can promise you that here in New Jersey, we don’t have too many ex-military teachers.  I can think of two in my entire high school.  Does he really believe there are schools where 40% of the teachers used to be in the military?

He even made a comment about coaches being good candidates to be trained with weapons because they have experience in that sort of thing.  Excuse me, Mr. President, but our coaches are mainly teachers.  They aren’t ex-military.  Why is a coach more likely to be equipped to handle a gun?  We have a problem with fake news these days, which is no surprise considering our own president spreads his own fake news.

Then he suggested giving special bonus money to the teachers who are armed.  He said that “teachers love bonuses.”  Trump speaks as if we’re children.  “Teachers love bonuses.”  I mean, isn’t that true of anyone, really?  Who isn’t happy to receive a bonus at their job?  He just always has such a condescending attitude.

I would rather forego the bonus than have that sort of power in my hands, and I know that many teachers agree with me.  Police officers are highly trained with their weapons, yet they still shoot and kill innocent bystanders from time to time.  Has Trump considered how likely that is to happen in a school, especially in a chaotic moment like a mass shooting?

He said that it takes about 8 minutes for the police to arrive at a school shooting and the shootings have only lasted for 3 minutes on average.  Hypothetically speaking, let’s say 5 teachers in my school are carrying concealed weapons.  What is the chance that one of the five of them will be less than a three minute’s walk away?  And if they are, how likely is it that they will kill the criminal without accidentally taking an innocent life?

Then, who will be there to protect the teachers when lawsuits arise?  Will legislators protect them from accidentally killing an innocent student?  And even if they could be protected financially, who is going to protect the guilt that they will likely face forever?

Trump suggests that teachers take a training course and then revisit the course once every six to twelve months, but who will pay for it?  A man posed that question to him yesterday and he completely evaded the question, making it sound like that shouldn’t be a reason to turn down his idea since it’s so crucial for the safety of our children.

But that is exactly what continues to happen with education in America; laws are passed, but they lack funding.  Schools sometimes need to fire teachers in order to find the funds to comply with government mandates.  Trump keeps saying that this will be “basically free” to the schools.  I don’t think he understands what the word free means.

The courses to learn gun safety and shooting accuracy will cost money.  The purchase of guns and ammunition will cost money.  And the bonuses he says the teachers should be given will also cost money.  So even if people agree with his idea, it’s financially disastrous to education.  We would lose teachers so that a select few teachers could carry guns.  I’m not even going to get into our failing education system, but I would prefer tax dollars to be spent on improving education, not purchasing weapons.

Trump reminds me of a child who makes reactive, impulsive decisions without considering them fully.  School shooting?  Uh…let’s arm teachers.  Oh, people think that’s dangerous?  Okay…uh…we’ll only arm a select few who have a military background.  Where will money come from?   Shoot…haven’t considered that one…well, if you love your kids you’ll find the money.  Yea…that’s the answer.

How is this our president?  How do people still support him?  He sounds like a rambling fool.

Trump said this about the shooting in Florida:  “A teacher would have shot the hell out of him before he knew what happened.  These teachers love their students. And these teachers are talented with weaponry and with guns. And I’d rather have somebody that loves their students and wants to protect their students than somebody standing outside that doesn’t know anybody and doesn’t know the students and frankly, for whatever reason, decided not to go in even though he heard lots of shots being fired.”

So a teacher would have shot him as a result of their love for their students?  A+B does not equal C here.  Teachers loving their students has no correlation to being able to shoot a criminal before he could kill more students.  There is zero causation between the two.  I love my students; therefore, if trained, I could “shoot the hell” out of any perpetrator?  No, that’s not how it works.

Cruz had an automatic weapon.  What will a teacher have, a handgun?  Does Trump honestly believe that one teacher with a handgun could have prevented all of that?

He made that comment after learning about the armed officer who was outside of the high school and who never entered.  His response about that was that “A security guard doesn’t know the children, doesn’t love the children. This man standing outside of the school the other day doesn’t love the children, probably doesn’t know the children. The teachers love their children. They love their pupils.”

First off, I’m an English teacher, and I cannot get over Trump’s repetitive, elementary sentence structure.  He loves to repeat key words and short sentences.  But him saying that we love our students while security guards don’t has no evidence or support.  Trump’s rhetoric is that of a child.  Yet some people still side with him?  I just don’t understand.  I feel like I’m living in the twilight zone.

He is so completely off base and out of touch with reality.  He even made a comment that “now is no longer the time for political correctness.”  That insinuates that he was previously being politically correct, but I can’t remember one instance when we held back from spewing insults at someone.

Trump likes finding scapegoats.  Immigrants, Muslims, it doesn’t really matter.  He needs someone to blame.  In this case, it’s the officer.  Now I don’t know the situation surrounding that officer.  I don’t know why he didn’t enter the building, but I’m sure that he is carrying some guilt right now.

He was also pointing the finger at California today, since California won’t go along with some of Trump’s ideas.  He started talking about the gang MS-13, and how those people aren’t even human beings; they’re animals.

MS-13 has nothing to do with this school shooting.  Yes, they actually are human beings.  No, that should not even be part of the conversation, but because he can point a finger, he will.

Trump pointing fingers is not helping anything.  And neither is his plan to arm teachers.

I miss the compassion we saw from President Obama following mass shootings like the one in Sandy Hook.  He appeared visually upset, tears streaming down his face as he discussed the events.  Families felt incredibly touched by his kind words to them when they met in private.  I don’t know how Trump reacted privately, but on camera, no matter the situation, he always has that smug grin plastered on his face.  It’s revolting, really.

I’m curious what changes are going to be passed by lawmakers in the upcoming months.  All I know is that, as a high school teacher, the last thing that I want is a bunch of my coworkers armed with guns.  That is not the answer.

Anyway…I really like this editorial that was posted in the New York Times:

Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr. President,

I don’t think you understand the problem that our country is facing.  We are in the midst of a school shooting  and mass shooting epidemic.  There is something that is intensely wrong in our country at the moment.

Students from Florida are protesting gun laws.  Most of them want the laws to be made more strict so that students can not so easily obtain guns.

I absolutely understand that guns are not the only problem.  I’m a teacher and I deal with high school students on a daily basis.  There are problems with bullying, mental health, narcissism, you name it.

But it’s also true that in most of these mass shootings, the perpetrators are not killing with a simple handgun that is purchased for protection.  They’re also not using guns that are typically used to hunt deer.

These are assault weapons that are being used: AK-47s, AR-15s.  For what purpose should any American be purchasing that sort of gun?  To hang on their wall?  To go target shooting? Just look at the name.  Assault weapon.  They were created for the purpose of eliminating human life on a grand scale.

Should that be a part of our right to bear arms?  I would say no.

Yet you, Mr. Trump, are taking the opposite stance.  You see the shootings.  You try (in an embarrassingly awkward manner) to comfort the families before going to relax at Mar-a-Lago.  You decide that arming teachers is the best solution.

Bringing more guns into schools is no sort of solution.  I am a teacher and I feel safe in my school despite…no, not despite…as a result of the lack of guns.  I would feel much less safe knowing that there are guns all over my school.

The more guns we have, the greater a chance we have of having a gun accidentally getting into the wrong hands.

Arming teachers doesn’t hit the root of the problem.  Arming teachers says, “well, since we can’t stop the students shooting up the schools, we’ll at least train teachers to kill them so that fewer students will end up dead.”

Arming teachers?  Is that a solution?  Absolutely not.  That’s a band-aid.  That lets the criminals win.  That tells them that we’re afraid, that we don’t know how to fix the problem, so instead, we’ll add more guns and more violence.

Let’s look into mental health problems.  Let’s address cyberbullying.  Let’s change our gun laws.  Let’s be more strict about the violent video games that our children begin playing at a young age and the gory films they are watching despite the R rating.  Let’s make sure that our school systems and FBI actually look into potential threats.  Let’s pray and remember that God is still very present in this country, waiting for us to turn to Him.

You’re supposedly a man of faith.  I hope that’s true and that you pray to God.  I really hope you can find Him.  Because right now, you’re giving all of Christianity a bad name.  You mention your faith in God, but then you berate poverty-stricken nations, calling them sh**-holes.  Is that what Jesus would do?

You’re the first president to attend the March for Life to end abortion, saying that you respect life in all forms, but then you act as though immigrants are a lesser sort of human being.  Is that what Jesus would do?

You’re a hypocrite in every sense of the word.

Please, don’t bring our nation into further ruin by trying to push for teachers to be armed with guns.  That is not what we want.  That is not what the students want.  Denounce your NRA affiliations and stop the madness that you’re spewing every time I turn on the news.

In the meantime, I will continue to pray for this country, especially for all of the victims of the shooting in Florida, their family and friends, the rest of the student body, the teachers and staff, and anyone else affected by the tragedy.  You are all loved.  God is still here, ready to pick you up out of  the darkness if you let Him.