Cover Photo by Mark R. Day

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Letters to the Editor for Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - NewsAdvance.com : Letters To The Editor

Letters to the Editor for Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - NewsAdvance.com : Letters To The Editor



Another letter in reference to the sale of painting from the Maier Museum in Lynchburg.

Letters to the Editor for Saturday, March 1, 2014 - NewsAdvance.com : Letters To The Editor

Letters to the Editor for Saturday, March 1, 2014 - NewsAdvance.com : Letters To The Editor  



Here is another letter, that honestly relates the sad facts of Randolph College's sale of the Maier Museum's art treasures.

Letter: On the topic of Education Reform

3/1/14

Greg
     The real danger we face is, that when the educataion system does fail those who have sought its destruction will be able to recreate education in a new kind of segregation.  Failure of the Public Schools will allow the creation of private schools that will operate as the education system for a new aristocracy based on economic status.  We will find that education will become the most important factor in the determination your social caste, yes I said caste.

      I see momentum for a return of the Social Darwinist attitudes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which empowered certain individuals to see themselves as a chosen elite based some sort of natural selection.  Of course this is just my take on the direction education is going in America and how it will affect the future.  I am sure there are many who see Public Education as just another way to redistribute the wealth, in this case intellectual,  of the nation and they will nay say my comment as socialist dribble because they fail to understand, that the  purpose of public education is to level the playing field for every human being in America regardless of race, color, age, sex, economic success, or any other factor.   After all history tells us that when people are given the opportunity to become educated and valued assets; they will rise to the occasion. 

     Greg, I believe the politicians, neo-academics,  and business people who are driving education today see Public Schools as a frontier open for conquest, redirection, and development.  They see a world that seems to them disorganized, chaotic,  and wild.  Like 19th century Imperialist these people believe they have an opportunity to profit from the extraction of raw materials for their enterprises while painting themselves as humanitarians and missionaries reaching out to save the less informed [teachers and students]  in education from misguided ignorance.  In the end they will take everything and give back nothing; leaving the American Public Education system as crippled and desolate as a third world country.
 
Mark
This letter was also written as a response to a thread on Facebook.

Letter: On the Topic of Standardized testing

2/28/14
Nichole,
     I sometimes wonder if the entire program of testing will not destroy Public Education.   The implementation of "No Child Left Behind" and its derivatives has led us to the brink of  a total collapse when it comes to providing a real educational experience for children.  I continuously hear people talking about rigor, blooms, and higher level thinking to solve problems  but  their concept of rigor and higher level thinking is short sighted and tied to a plethora of often disassociated specific facts, which are tested with multiple choice questions.  We are led to believe these test questions  are analytical because they require the student to apply facts to answer them but that seems a thin argument for this sort of high stakes testing.  Please allow me one final observation about the testing, I believe that the questions, which are purchased from private test writing firms, can be arbitrary and in some cases biased. 
     As for the testing strategy and the constant revision of the tests themselves, I ask the following: Why is it that just when the students begin to master that kind of testing, the politicians and the want-a-be academic administers up the ante and change the testing.  The question, I ask myself when testing changes take place is;  "If we are currently testing for higher level comprehension and the students are being successful why are we changing the testing?"  The answer, that always comes to my mind is, "Damn the students are doing so well, we will need to increase the level of difficulty until we can prove our hypothesis, that the students are not do well.  Now does that sound like a progressive and scientific approach to identifying success?
     In today's Data driven world politicians need to point to data charts and make absolute judgments based on the outcome of testing programs.  I find this ridiculous and dangerous because we place to much value on a momentary snap shot of the student's ability and we pile far to much pressure on our children. 
     Students are  children who have differences  in rates of maturity, economic and social success, and most overlooked is the fact, that they are still developing mentally.  We are eating our young, so to speak, by using a system that is designed to find failure and begin the process of labeling and sorting children into categories. 
      So back to my original rant, the system is designed to fail because it treat students as a raw material without flaws or faults and attempts to turn them all into perfect machine tools who will have been educated enough to fit into the American business machine.  However, that will never really happen because the people, in the system of education, both students and teachers are human beings and not precision parts nor perfect material that will always fit the machine parameters.  Education should not be designed to produce interchangeable parts that can be propelled down an assembly line and mass produced for consumption by corporations. Education is the process of discovering the talents of individuals and directing those talents into useful skills. 
     Perhaps every politician should be forced to watch the silent movie Metropolis or read Brave New World.  Human beings are unique and talented in dissimilar ways.  The current changes in our traditional classical education system seek  to create Drone's who are able to fulfill the needs of a hierarchical order and it fail to seek the full potential of each student based on the talents and skills they possess.
 
Mark
 
This letter was originally posted as a comment on facebook in response to a posting written by a friend who is also a teacher.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Letters to the Editor for Tuesday, February 11, 2014 - NewsAdvance.com : Letters To The Editor


Sale of Bellows painting a travesty

I am writing to express my deep disappointment with the sale of George Bellows’ painting “Men of the Docks” by the leadership of Randolph College. 

College President Bradley Bateman has tried to put a positive spin on this travesty of the public trust, which has been denounced by many museum professionals and the professional museum organization that govern museums of art, as a triumphant moment in Randolph Colleges history. Bateman’s statement that the reputation of Randolph College will benefit from its sale of this American masterpiece to the National Gallery of London proves the arrogance and ignorance of his actions.

The Maier Museum is a Lynchburg treasure, and the sale of this painting has diminished the lives of all the residents of our city.  I can only hope that the arts community of Lynchburg will react with one voice in the face of this despicable act and place immense pressure on the leadership of Randolph College to forgo any further sales of the Maier’s collection.

America and Lynchburg have lost an irreplaceable part of their history and Randolph College has discarded its values and dishonored the memory of the students and alumni who raised the funds and donated the painting to the college so many years ago.

What a shame the sale of “Men of the Docks” has been, for now our residents — and especially our children — will never again have the opportunity to be inspired by this amazing painting.

MARK DAY

Lynchburg

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Poem: "Addressed to a student"


 
Few are those inspired and resolved to learn the great truths of human knowledge.

Fewer still are those who will hazard the sojourn down dark musky paths toward enlightenment.

But for those who heed the call of the muses, knowledge shall radiate forth like a candle in the dark.

 

Written by Mark R. Day 2/5/2014.  Copyright by Mark R. Day 2/5/2014, all rights reserved.

 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Poem: “Disappointment”



Oh! Balm of Sorrow, thy soft caress reproaches my blank and hollow aspect.

Disregard my only response, a folly to those who witness my continence.

For darkness has encompassed my universe and hidden all that rewarded life.

I am the vessel overflowing with misery, which splashes upon empty remains.

Cold!

Cold!

Cold!

My once joyous spirit is now corrupt and meaningless.

I am a shell, hollow, and devoid of contentment.

Life shall persist but with little desire, for my dream is dead.

Consumed in the unrelenting fires of technological achievement.



Written by Mark R. Day on 2/4/14.  Copyright by Mark R. Day 2/7/14 all rights reserved.

"initially done as an experiment to see if, I could write in the Romantic Style of Keats.  This work is my attempt to speak toward the the forlorn spirit of a man who has seen his way of life overwhelmed by the steady progress of human industry.  The man has been left behind in a rapidly changing world and nothing remains of the life he once lived.  Despair is the outcome as even his dream [hopes] have been taken from him."