There aren’t a lot of blogs on the Internet where you can get amused and educated at the same time. But humor is an excellent teacher. So good, in fact that the American Psychological Assn. believes that, “… a growing body of research suggests that, when used effectively, classroom comedy can improve student performance by reducing anxiety, boosting participation and increasing students’ motivation to focus on the material.”

So, let’s begin…

Today’s lesson is on Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson, a Civil War Confederate general considered to be one of America’s most brilliant war strategists. His nickname, “Stonewall,” was earned in battle. From Wikipedia: “Jackson rose to prominence and earned his most famous nickname at the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas) on July 21, 1861. As the Confederate lines began to crumble under heavy Union assault, Jackson’s brigade provided crucial reinforcements on Henry House Hill, demonstrating the discipline he instilled in his men. Brig. Gen. Barnard Elliott Bee, Jr., exhorted his own troops to re-form by shouting, “There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer. Rally behind the Virginians!”

Since then, “stonewalling” has become such an accepted term, it appears in dictionaries. Its exact definition is “blocking or stalling John Caldecott’s request for transparency, especially intentionally.”

“I will not release those documents!”

(image source: civilwarartist.com)

Stonewalling has been a successful school board tactic for decades. Unable or unwilling to directly face many problems before it, district officials and the board ignore controversies and scandals and hope they go away. As I’ve written many times, I do not blame them for resorting to stonewalling as it has been an extremely successful way of handling tough situations.

But it’s not how we teach our kids to handle problems. Well, more exactly, it’s not how I teach my kids how to handle problems. I didn’t teach them to stonewall, I taught them to run away.

Just kidding.

Now it appears that Caldecott isn’t the only one who is being stonewalled. Last January, in an effort to get some firm data on a nagging and important problem, Trustee Vicki Snell requested a report showing which school fields were being used by youth sports organizations, and when they were being used. An excellent idea.

To date, however, there has been no further public discussion of Snell’s request and as far as I can determine, no report has been created.

The stonewalling continues… Last Tuesday, I requested the name of a district official who appeared for a moment (about four working days, actually) on a job description for yet two more management positions. The person’s title is “Associate Superintendent, Chief Academic Officer.”

So who is this person? I’d love to tell you that my e-mail request to our out-of-town Superintendent Fred Navarro (he lives in Long Beach) and board president Martha Fluor (she lives here) was answered promptly. But I can’t tell you that because it wasn’t.

So, the stonewalling continues. I take solace in the fact that not only is humor a good teacher, so is history: Jackson’s side lost the war.

Advertisements