Hmmm …..

by on September 24, 2009 · 10 comments

in Civil Rights, Education, From the Soul, San Diego, War and Peace

Ernie McCray-sm

by Ernie McCray

I feel like Arsenio Hall because everywhere I roam I see things that make me go: “Hmmm.” Like these crazy people I’ve seen on TV. You know the ones, they’re all blue in the face, looking scarily Incredible Hulkish, some of them without a shred of insurance, shrieking at a man who has: put keeping them healthy and well so they don’t have to foreclose on their American Dreams high up on his list of things to do.

The president is trying to cover their angry sick behinds and they’re screaming about how he’s a nazi looking to brainwash our children “so he can take over the country.” And I’m walking around wondering, “Hmmm, am I on Candid Camera? Twilight Zone? Punk’d?”

And what was with that not wanting the president to encourage students to do well in school – like he did, for goodness sake. I mean how many people can look our children in the eye and say: “Hey, kids, study hard and make something of yourself and someday you might be on the Late Show with Letterman. Harry Letterman.” Talking about misdirected anger.

Now I wouldn’t be the least bit interested in these enraged mobs of American Patriots if it weren’t for their BS concern about children. See, I don’t remember any of them taking to the streets and dominating town hall meetings at times when some righteous anger was truly called for.

Where were these “love the children wannabe’s” when, say, Dubya, got in their face, selling wolf tickets that were a disgrace, feeding them some jive about Saddam hiding some bombs when he, as Commander in Chief, had scopes at his disposal that can detect a pimple on a mosquitos’ behind and, in no time, he sent their children, their eighteen and nineteen year olds, off to a war that broke all the rules for starting wars. And for too long they perished in the madness practically anonymously.

But, hmmm, that wasn’t “Shocking and Awful” enough for Them the People. So they won’t likely rattle Obama’s cage about a matter they should: his war mentality; his support of Bush’s No Child Left Behind which militarizes far too many of our children as their school districts lose funding if they don’t provide military recruiters with information about them.

Sadly, here in San Diego, there are students who began the school year finding out that their back-to-school enrollment forms were pre-marked with the answer “yes” to the question regarding whether or not they would want information about them released to the military. This, after a number of students and parents and teachers and relic community activists like yours truly, representing ENAC (Education Not Arms Coalition), struggled for nearly two years to ensure that students would no longer be enlisted in JROTC involuntarily or without their parents being properly informed. We also ended JROTC shooting ranges at our schools.

Having to print “No Weapons Training” picket signs and fliers and rent buses and form car pools and meet for hours and wait in line to speak at a podium after sitting all evening just to ensure a minimal just environment for our children – that should be enough to make anyone angry.

Hmmm, so it appears that when there’s real harm being done to our children, at school of all places, there aren’t enough angry people around. So we have to settle for small victories. A few hundred can’t match the thousands/millions of people needed to protect students properly. The Department of Defense knows that very well. There may no longer be shooting ranges in San Diego’s schools but they still exist on many campuses throughout the country, sponsored by the JROTC which denies being a recruiting tool of the military – while the DoD boasts before Congress in the House of Representatives (right) about its success in recruiting students for the armed services. Add the JROTC’s success with that of the spit shined sharply dressed military recruiters who frequent our nation’s campuses, trying to make quotas with smooth “you can make a difference” speeches so they don’t have to get back in harm’s way – Well: “Another one (of our kids) bites the dust!”

Now, I’d say if we just have to get our Hanes in a bunch about something where our children are concerned it ought to be about our government’s unrelenting efforts to enlist them to fight its wretched wars.

Seeing our children put at risk of becoming cannon fodder should make us go: “Hmmm.”

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Sunshine September 24, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Another grand reason I’m all for Radical Unschooling. Any form of homeschooling is better that what the public school systems we’ve encountered have offered.


bodysurferbob September 24, 2009 at 8:49 pm

sorry sunshine – don’t agree. ernie here is a former principal of public schools. i have many, many friends who have been and still are public school teachers – and your broad brush approach disses all of them. many good-hearted and talented people become public school teachers. sure, there’s problems, but “any form of homeschooling” – how about by white supremacists home-school their kids? – it’s just not true. but natch it can work wonders for some people. i myself went through 16 years of public schools …. hmmmmm


Sunshine September 25, 2009 at 8:21 am

Okay, bodysurferbob, I see that my comment of “any form” was way too broad. Personally, we discovered and embraced Radical Unschooling. I was only speaking from our personal reference and should have stopped running my mouth with that alone.

My son was in public school up till 9th grade. He was pre-qualified for MIT in 4th grade, yet was continually enrolled in basic Algebra classes from 4th to 9th grade. Geeze, where was the forward thinking to meet his advanced intellect? Studying and researching Quantum Physics in his spare time at home after school was what he did for fun starting in elementary school. For us, the public schools weren’t cutting it. We simply found that homeschooling allowed him to challenge himself a lot more and at his own pace. MIT still wants him to attend and I certainly encourage the higher education from such a fine school.

BTY, did you know that if a parent earns under $75,000 a year MIT will waive the tuition fee? Just read it in the pre-admission application they sent us. Certainly worth looking into.


doug porter September 24, 2009 at 10:16 pm

welcome to the obrag, ernie!


oonsneldeed September 25, 2009 at 1:33 am

Code for: Brown-vs. Board-of-Ed prevailed (sort of) and-segregation failed (at least in theory), so since we can’t keep black kids OUT of public schools then we’ll just keep our own kids AWAY from the black kids.
Pssssssttt! And here’s an idea! It’s unfashionable to be racists these days (shhhhh), so we’ll cloak it [home-schooling] in religious fundamentalism (because we sure as shootin’ wouldn’t want any of them socialist nurses or commie teachers telling our little girls about their reproductive choices. After all, “Abstinence-only” has been such an unqualified success story!)


lane tobias September 25, 2009 at 8:38 am

As a product of a public school system that was the first in the nation to voluntarily desegregate its schools, I can say from first hand experience that going to school in an environment of multiple, sometimes clashing, but unified in education, cultures made me a better person. There are rare instances where the generalized education is not appropriate for a gifted student, of course; but without having gone through the Teaneck Public School system, I would not have an inkling of understanding of West Indian culture, or know really anything about Ramadan, or understand the dichotomy of radical Puerto Ricans and those who believe that America saved them. I am also the son of an educator who taught in a public school system for over 40 years, touching hundreds of lives across racial and ethnic divides – who only retired BECAUSE of the NCLB Act.

Ernie, you are not alone. There are plenty of times when I sit back and have to say “HMMMMM”….certainly, these frothing at the mouth folks, filled with hatred, have little regard for the children of this country. If they did, they might understand that by battling a public option, they are putting their long-term care and all the financial obligations that come with it squarely on their kids’ shoulders. And these are generations who will barely have enough money to sustain themselves, let alone their parents and grandparents. Let us not forget that the population has been exploding, not because of all the babies, but because people are living longer.

Anyone in favor of keeping the system as it is is literally shooting themself in the foot.


annagrace September 25, 2009 at 11:17 am

Ernie, I was struck by your comment about “small victories.” They are victories and we should never forget that. And you described so well the tremendous amount of time and effort that goes into achieving them. “Small” victories change our world.

PS. You have have been a powerful and effective presence here for so many years Ernie. Thank you. Great news that you have joined us at the Obrag.


J. Stone September 25, 2009 at 4:35 pm

Hey Ernie, your expressive writing always gets me. I remember the struggles with Bursin and the NCLB at City Schools, which dehumanized the children to the point a good number of us just couldn’t do any more and were forced out. The braver ones like yourself left immediately. Others like me tried to fight it from with-in for a while, but were way out numbered by the sheep. I bailed soon after you, in complete disgust. I often wonder why so many people I thought were principled and kid centered bought in so easily. Creativity by the kids and teachers was dealt a severe blow.


Kim K. September 26, 2009 at 12:14 pm


A view from my car window in my community of Carlsbad:

Mom’s and Dad’s and their four plus children standing on street corners last October, shouting and holding signs that say YES ON Prop. 8. (Let them be denied health insurance, the right to see their loved ones’ as they are ill, and equal rights as a loving couple and they will still be ignorant that love is love period)!

The Minutemen shouting and pushing grown men who are waiting for work off of the sidewalk, as if they don’t exist.

Men and woman at a Home-owner’s Association meeting, stating their ignorance, hatred and arrogance when TERI (an organization for children and adults with developmental limitations) was going to move into a home in their neighbor. NIMBY..

The mother’s said that these young men (six men over 18 with two resident social workers in a four bedroom and four bath home) would be masturbating in their front yards, attacking their children on the playground and scaring their children at the swimming pool. NIMBY (not in my back yard)

Let one of those children be on their own. a young adult finding their own voice for living independently.

I don’t ever remember having the President’s television address boycotted by schools, by parents and by several states within the U.S.

Living in a democracy and being able to express our opinions is one thing, displaying hatred and ignorance when it comes to “sheltering your children” from a speech from the current President of the U.S.?!! How backward and absurd is that!

Let me know where I can be to voice my “opinion” that we have a right.. NOT TO SEND OUR Kids to WAR …. NEVER and NO MORE.

Being home sick from school in the sixth grade and watching television on November 22, 1963, and than our world as we knew it changed forever.

Walter Cronkite interruped the show. Slowing taking off his glasses as he holds back tears and announces,”President Kennedy had been shot, and died.” Than the live and extended coverage of Lee Harvey Oswald being led to jail as he is assassinated by Jack Ruby. The nightmare continues with Mrs. Kennedy boarding Air Force One with her husband’s body in the cargo area as she is still wearing her blood soaked suit as LBJ is swore in as the next President.

Forty-six years later, those memories are still fresh..

All of the wars, Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk are assassinated by a crazy Dan White, attending Mayor Moscone’s funeral, Jonestown, Tienen Square, Daniel Pearls’ life being sacrificed for being Jewish and American, the acts of genocide of innocent people and countries, the rapes and stoning of women, the LA riots, O.J. killing and getting away with it of his wife and Ron Goldman, kidnaps, the murders, the mutilation of human beings by others, just because…. the events and years all blur together … family members killing each other and theirselves, the despair, hopelessness, mental illness, poverty, homelessness and individuals deciding who should live and who should die.

Our children are innocent victims of this era, their parent’s plight of losing their jobs, their homes and their self-respect.

Let the children know that they are all entitled to be on this earth. To not have to bear arms.

We all have an obligation to help each human being know the reality of a warm meal three times a day, clean drinking water, shelter,adequate clothing for their environment, proper healthcare, a chance to attend or be home schooled, not to be challenged or to be judged by the color of their skin, their appearance, their nationality, their religious beliefs or non-beliefs, or by their current economic circumstances.

I am unemployed. I am looking at this as a test.. and I am going to pass with flying colors. Each day is a gift and new beginning..

Shalom and peace to all of you. I am there for spreading the word of no guns or ROTC on school campus’. Let me know when and where …


Ernie McCray September 26, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Hi, Kim:
This coming Tuesday, starting at 5:00, at the San Diego City Schools’ board of education meeting, there will be students testifying as to having had “yes” checked on their back-to-school enrollment forms regarding having info about them sent to the military. Some parents will speak also. We’re asking that the district correct this problem immediately. There has been no move, yet, to end JROTC itself in our schools but I can see that coming down the line – kind of one step at a time. The kids, mostly Latino with a smattering of African Americans, have been leading the way and that’s been the most beautiful and hopeful aspect of all that we’ve done so far. It’s wonderful knowing that there are a significant number of young freedom fighters in our midst.


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