Kentucky governor apologizes for saying teacher strike led to sexual assaults

By Bernie Woodall

(Reuters) – Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin apologized on Sunday for saying last week that a teacher walkout that shut schools in many of the state’s districts led to children being sexually assaulted.

In an interview with a WDRB-TV television reporter on Friday, the Republican governor said he could guarantee that somewhere in Kentucky a child was sexually assaulted after being left home with no supervision because of the walkout.

In a video statement on Sunday, Bevin said: “I’m sorry for those of you, every single one of you, that has been hurt by things that I’ve said.”

Kentucky’s Republican-majority House of Representatives passed a bipartisan resolution on Saturday criticizing the governor’s comments, and the Republican state Senate president said Bevin should apologize, according to local media.

Teachers in Kentucky, as well as in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona, have held recent walkouts or protests demanding more funds for education, including teachers’ salaries and pensions.

Kentucky legislators voted on Friday to override Bevin’s veto of a two-year state budget that increased education funding through a $480 million tax increase.

Bevin said on Friday that single-parent households in the state had been forced to leave children at home and in peril of not just sexual assault, but of ingesting poison or being offered drugs for the first time.

In his apology video on Sunday, Bevin appeared to defend some of the comments he had made.

“We can’t be so consumed with the financial that we fail to appreciate the ripple effect of the real people that are involved,” Bevin said on Sunday.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Additional reporting by Karen Pierog in Chicago; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney)

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Teacher for 17 years couldn’t read or write

John Corcoran


John Corcoran grew up in New Mexico in the US during the 1940s and 50s. One of six siblings, he graduated from high school, went on to university, and became a teacher in the 1960s – a job he held for 17 years. But, as he explains here, he hid an extraordinary secret.

When I was a child I was told by my parents that I was a winner, and for the first six years of my life I believed what my parents had told me.

I was late in talking, but I went off to school with high hopes of learning to read like my sisters, and for the first year things were fine because there weren’t many demands on us other than standing in the right line, sitting down, keeping our mouths shut and going to the bathroom on time.

And then in the second grade we were supposed to learn to read. But for me it was like opening a Chinese newspaper and looking at it – I didn’t understand what those lines were, and as a child of six, seven, eight years old I didn’t know how to articulate the problem.

I remember praying at night and saying, “Please Lord, let me know how to read tomorrow when I get up” and sometimes I’d even turn on the light and get a book and look at it and see if I got a miracle. But I didn’t get that miracle.

At school I ended up in the dumb row with a bunch of other kids who were having a hard time learning to read. I didn’t know how I got there, I didn’t know how to get out and I certainly didn’t know what question to ask.

John Corcoran as a child


The teacher didn’t call it the “dumb row” – there wasn’t any cruelty or anything – but the kids called it the dumb row, and when you’re in that dumb row you start thinking you’re dumb.

At teacher conferences my teacher told my parents, “He’s a smart boy, he’ll get it,” and they moved me on to the third grade.

“He’s a smart boy, he’ll get it,” and they moved me on to the fourth grade.

“He’s a smart boy, he’ll get it,” and they moved me on to the fifth grade.

But I wasn’t getting it.

By the time I got to the fifth grade I’d basically given up on myself in terms of reading. I got up every day, got dressed, went to school and I was going to war. I hated the classroom. It was a hostile environment and I had to find a way to survive.

By the seventh grade I was sitting in the principal’s office most of the day. I was in fights, I was defiant, I was a clown, I was a disruptor, I got expelled from school.

But that behaviour wasn’t who I felt inside – it wasn’t who I wanted to be. I wanted to be somebody else, I had a desire to succeed, I wanted to be a good student, but I just couldn’t do it.

By the time I got to the eighth grade I got tired of embarrassing myself and my family. I decided I was going to behave myself now – if you behave in high school you can find your way through the system. So I was going to be a teacher’s pet and do everything necessary to pass that system.

I wanted to be an athlete – I had athletic skills, and I had maths skills – I could count money and make change before I even went to school and I learned the times tables.

I had social skills too – I ran around with college kids, I dated the valedictorian – the student with the highest grades who gives a speech at the graduation ceremony, I was the homecoming king, I had people – mostly girls – do my homework for me.

I could write my name and there were some words that I could remember, but I couldn’t write a sentence – I was in high school and reading at the second or third grade level. And I never told anybody that I couldn’t read.

When I was taking a test I would look at someone else’s paper, or I’d pass my paper over to somebody else and they’d answer the questions for me – it was fairly easy, amateur cheating. But when I went off to college on a full athletic scholarship it was a different story.

I thought, “Oh my gosh, this is way over my head, how am I going to be able to get through this?”

John Corcoran as a teen


I belonged to a social fraternity who had copies of old exam papers. That was one way to cheat. I tried to take classes with a partner, somebody who would help me through. There were professors who used the same test year after year. But I also had to resort to more creative and desperate things.

In one exam the professor put four questions on the board. I was sitting at the back of the room, near the window, behind the older students.

I had my blue book and I painstakingly copied the four questions off the board. I didn’t know what those questions said.

I had arranged for a friend of mine to be outside the window. He was probably the smartest kid in school, but he was also shy and he’d asked me to fix him up with a girl by the name of Mary who he wanted to go to the spring formal dance with.

I passed my blue book out the window to him and he answered the questions for me.

I had another blue exam book underneath my shirt and I took it out and pretended I was writing in it.

I was praying that my friend was going to be able to get my book back to me and that he was going to get the right answers.

I was so desperate. I needed to pass courses. I was at risk.

There was another exam that I couldn’t figure out how I was going to pass.

One night I went by the professor’s office about midnight, he wasn’t there. I opened the window with a knife and I went in like a cat burglar. I’d crossed the line now – I wasn’t just a student that was cheating, I was a criminal.

I went inside and I looked around for the exam. It had to be in his office but I couldn’t find it. There was a file cabinet that was locked – it had to be in the file cabinet.

I did the same thing two or three nights in a row looking for that exam but I still couldn’t find it. So one night, about one o’clock in the morning, I brought three of my friends with me and we went to the office. We carried out a four-drawer file cabinet, put it in a vehicle, and took it off campus to a college apartment.

I had arranged for a locksmith to come. I put my suit and tie on – I was pretending to be a young businessman who was leaving for Los Angeles the next day and the locksmith was saving my job by opening it.

He opened it, gave me a key, and sure enough, to my great relief there were more than 40 copies of the exam – a multiple choice paper – in the top drawer of the file cabinet. I took one copy back to my dormitory, where a “smart” classmate made a cheat sheet with all the correct answers.

We carried the file cabinet back and at five o’clock in the morning I was walking up to my room and thinking, “Mission impossible accomplished!” – and I was feeling pretty good that I was so clever.

But then I walked up the stairs, lay down in my bed and started weeping like a baby.

Why didn’t I ask for help? Because I didn’t believe there was anybody out there who could teach me to read. This was my secret and I guarded that secret.

My teachers and my parents told me that people with college degrees get better jobs, they have better lives, and so that’s what I believed. My motivation was to just get that piece of paper. Maybe by osmosis, maybe by prayer, maybe by a miracle I would one day learn to read.

So I graduated from college, and when I graduated there was a teacher shortage and I was offered a job. It was the most illogical thing you can imagine – I got out of the lion’s cage and then I got back in to taunt the lion again.

Why did I go into teaching? Looking back it was crazy that I would do that. But I’d been through high school and college without getting caught – so being a teacher seemed a good place to hide. Nobody suspects a teacher of not knowing how to read.

I taught a lot of different things. I was an athletics coach. I taught social studies. I taught typing – I could copy-type at 65 words a minute but I didn’t know what I was typing. I never wrote on a blackboard and there was no printed word in my classroom. We watched a lot of films and had a lot of discussions.

I remember how fearful I was. I couldn’t even take the roll – I had to ask the students to pronounce their names so I could hear their names. And I always had two or three students who I identified early – the ones who could read and write best in the classroom – to help me. They were my teaching aids. They didn’t suspect at all – you don’t suspect the teacher.

One of my biggest fears was faculty meetings. We had them once a week and if the teachers were brainstorming the principal would call on somebody to get those ideas on to the board. I lived in fear that he would call on me, every week I was terrified, but I had a backup plan.

If he had called on me I was going to get out of my chair and take two steps, grab my chest, drop to the floor and hope they called 911. Whatever it took not to get caught, and I never got caught.

Sometimes I felt like a good teacher – because I worked hard at it and I really cared about what I was doing – but I wasn’t. It was wrong. I didn’t belong in the classroom, I was trespassing. I wasn’t supposed to be there and sometimes what I was doing made me physically sick, but I was trapped, I couldn’t tell anybody.

I got married while I was a teacher. Getting married is a sacrament, it’s a commitment to be truthful with another person and this was the first time I thought, “OK, I’m going to trust this person, I’m going to tell her.”

I practised in front of the mirror: “Cathy, I can’t read. Cathy, I can’t read.”

And one evening we were sitting on the couch and I said, “Cathy, I can’t read.”

But she didn’t really understand what I was saying. She thought I was saying that I didn’t read much.

You know, love is blind and deaf.

So we got married and we had a child and years later it really came home to her.

I was reading to our three-year-old daughter. We read to her routinely, but I wasn’t really reading, I was making the stories up – stories that I knew, like Goldilocks and The Three Bears, I just added drama to them.

But this was a new book, Rumpelstiltskin, and my daughter said, “You’re not reading it like mama.”

My wife heard me trying to read from a child’s book and that was the first time that it dawned on her. I had been asking her to do all this writing for me, helping me write things for school, and then she finally realised, how deep and severe this was.

But nothing was said, there was no confrontation, she just carried on helping me get by.

John Corcoran Kayla Mertes


It didn’t relieve anything because in my gut I felt dumb and I felt like a fake. I was deceitful. I was teaching my students to be seekers of truth and I was the biggest liar in the room. The relief only came when I finally learned to read.

I taught high school from 1961 to 1978. Eight years after I quit my teaching job, something finally changed.

I was 47 going on 48 when I saw Barbara Bush – then Second Lady of the US – talking about adult literacy on TV. It was her special cause. I’d never heard anybody talking about adult literacy before, I thought I was the only person in the world that was in the situation I was in.

I was at this desperate spot in my life. I wanted to tell somebody and I wanted to get help and one day in the grocery store I was standing in line and there were two women in front of me talking about their adult brother who was going to the library. He was learning to read and they were just full of joy and I couldn’t believe it.

So one Friday afternoon in my pinstriped suit I walked into the library and asked to see the director of the literacy programme and I sat down with her and I told her I couldn’t read.

That was the second person in my adult life that I had ever told.

john corcoran and the Bushes


I had a volunteer tutor – she was 65 years old. She wasn’t a teacher, she was just somebody who loved to read and didn’t think anybody should go through life without knowing how to.

One of the things that she had me do in the early stages was to try to write because I had all these thoughts in my mind and I’d never written a sentence. The first thing that I wrote was a poem about my feelings. One of the things about poetry is that you don’t have to know what a complete sentence is, and you don’t have to write in complete sentences.

She got me to about sixth-grade-level reading – I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. But it took me about seven years to feel like I was a literate person. I cried, I cried, and I cried after I started learning to read – there was a lot of pain and a lot of frustration – but it filled a big hole in my soul. Adults who can’t read are suspended in their childhoods, emotionally, psychologically, academically, spiritually. We haven’t grown up yet.

I was encouraged to tell my story by my tutor to motivate others and promote literacy, but I said, “No way. I’ve lived in this community for 17 years, my children are here, my wife is here – she’s a professional, my parents are here, I’m not going to tell this story.”

But eventually I decided I would. It was an embarrassing secret and it was a shame-based secret, so it was a big decision.

It wasn’t easy but once I’d made up my mind I was going to tell the story I told it all across America, I spoke to anybody that would listen. I guarded this secret for decades and then I blasted it to the world.

I was on Larry King, I was on the ABC News magazine show 20/20, I was on Oprah.

It was uncomfortable for people to hear the story of the teacher who couldn’t read. Some people said it was impossible and that I was making the whole story up.

But I want people to know there is hope, there is a solution. We are not “dumb”, we can learn to read, it’s never too late.

Unfortunately we are still pushing children and teens through school without teaching them basic reading and writing skills. But we can break this cycle of failure if instead of blaming teachers we make sure they are properly trained.

For 48 years I was in the dark. But I finally got the monkey off my back, I finally buried the ghost of my past.

Written by Sarah McDermott. Photographs courtesy of John Corcoran.

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Teacher Accused Of Feeding Live Puppy To Snapping Turtle In Front Of Students

Brandon TurbevilleIf there wasn’t enough wrong with America’s public schools already, a science teacher at a junior high school in Idaho was accused of feeding a live puppy to a snapping turtle in front of students after school, according to a number of reports.

The official police report was filed by an animal activist named Jill Parrish after learning of the incident. While there has been no statement from the teacher, and the incident is being investigated, the Preston School District Superintendent, Marc Gee, stated that, “the event occurred well after students had been dismissed and was not part of any school-directed program. We emphasize that at no time was the safety of students or staff compromised.”

Of course, the question was never in regards to student or staff safety – it was in regards to the puppies.

As of early Tuesday, Robert Crosland was still employed at the school, had not been cited, charged or placed on leave. The school superintendent that the incident was being investigated and the Franklin County Sheriff, Dave Fryer, stated that he forwarded the report to the county prosecutor.

Crosland is known for keeping exotic animals like snakes and other reptiles in his classroom. Three former students anonymously reported that Crosland used to feed guinea pigs to snakes and snapping turtles during class for the purpose of demonstration.

It should also be noted that something did indeed happen since the school itself referred to it as “the event” and pointed out that it was not part of any school-directed program.

Jill Parrish stated that a teacher told her last week about the feeding of the puppy which was supposedly disfigured. Parrish certainly believes that not only did the incident take place but that the puppy was alive as she stated, “Allowing children to watch an innocent baby puppy scream because it is being fed to an animal… that is violence. That is not okay.”

Este Hull, a 7th grader at the school, stated that she has known Crosland to feed his reptiles animals, but that they were only mice or birds.

Senior Director of Cruelty Casework with PETA, Stephanie Bell, commented on the incident by saying, “Any youngster who witnessed cruelty in the classroom is now in desperate need of lessons about having empathy for other living beings. ”

Bell is 100% correct. Even if Crosland did not commit the act in question (although clearly something has taken place out of the norm), his reputation for feeding animals to snakes and snapping turtles should be enough to prevent him from ever entering the classroom again. Killing animals for entertainment, education and in such grotesque, slow ways, especially in front of impressionable young people, is not only irresponsible, it is twisted.

Bell is right to point out that such incidents require lessons about empathy, but it should be added that such experiences often serve to eliminate it. Torturing animals is well-known to be a signal of psychopaths and children being forced into school and subsequently forced into experiencing this level of cruelty, are thus going to have their own moral compass and ability to empathize thrown off-kilter.

Perhaps Crosland and his school are already seeing their work pay off with the bizarre reactions coming from the students and the parents. “I feel a little better that it was a puppy that was going to die, not just a healthy puppy,” 7th grader, Este Hull said.

“If it was a deformed puppy that was going to die anyway, [Crosland] is very much circle of life.” says parent Annette Salvinson.

Clearly, empathy might not be this community’s strong suit.

Jill Parrish is not satisfied with such cold responses, however. “There’s a lot of humane things you can do,” she said. “Feeding a live animal to a reptile is not humane and it’s not okay.”

It’s also not something we should have to point out in the 21st century.

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Teacher Investigated For Feeding Puppy To Snapping Turtle In Front Of Students

A junior high science teacher in Preston, Idaho, is being investigated after he fed a puppy to a snapping turtle in front of students.

Robert Crosland reportedly fed the puppy to the turtle on March 7 after school was out. The turtle is one of a few exotic pets he keeps in his class at Preston Junior High, according to the Salt Lake City station KSTU.

It’s not clear whether the puppy was alive or dead at the time of feeding, according to East Idaho News. It’s also not clear how many students were present.

The puppy was reportedly sick and going to die, but local animal activist Jill Parrish, who filed a police report about the incident, thinks Crosland is the sick one.

“Allowing children to watch an innocent baby puppy scream because it is being fed to an animal. That is violence. That is not okay,” Parrish told the station.

Preston School District 201 Superintendent Marc Gee called the incident “a regrettable circumstance,” but noted in a press release that the event “occurred well after students had been dismissed and was not a part of any school-directed program.”

“We emphasize that at no time was the safety of students or staff compromised,” Gee added.

Robert Crosland, a junior high science teacher in Preston, Idaho, is being investigated after he reportedly fed a puppy to a snapping turtle in front of students. (Preston School District)Robert Crosland, a junior high science teacher in Preston, Idaho, is being investigated after he reportedly fed a puppy to a snapping turtle in front of students. (Preston School District)

A former student told East Idaho News that Crosland was known to feed guinea pigs to snakes and snapping turtles during classroom demonstrations.

“He is a cool teacher who really brought science to life,” the former student told the News. “I loved his class because he had turtles and snakes and other cool things.”

Franklin County Sheriff David Fryar says the incident is being investigated to determine if there was a crime.

“We’re investigating the facts and turning it over to the prosecutor,” Fryar told KSTU. “He’s the one who will determine if the law has been broken.”

Reached for comment Tuesday, Fryar told HuffPost a prosecutor statement would be released by the end of the day.

Crosland is still employed by the school district and has not been placed on administrative leave.

His actions are getting support from some students’ parents, like Annette Salvesen.

“If it was a deformed puppy that was going to die anyway, Cros[land] is very much circle of life,” Salvesen told KSTU.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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A Buddhist Teacher’s Perspective To Donald Trump’s Presidency

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Trump’s presidential win left many people feeling let down by their fellow citizens. It came as a big surprise, particularly to many of the women of America, who saw a clear betrayal in the fact that not only did a woman not win the election, she was beat out by a someone who is perceived as a sexist womanizer.

Aside from that aspect, I think most people were just left in shock. How could this man have become president? At the beginning many people, myself included, thought this whole thing was a practical joke at best. Toward the end, I was thinking that he was put there just to make Clinton look better. And then he won.

It left many feeling hopeless for the future. If someone like Trump can become President of the United States of America, then we are doomed, right? Well, maybe not. There are more perspectives on this situation. And if you believe that everything happens for a reason, then surely, there is more to Trump winning the election than meets the eye…

A company called Lion’s Roar, which publishes a magazine on Buddhist wisdom for today, decided to reach out to some Buddhist teachers and hear their perspectives on what Trump’s presidency really means for America. Below is what the various teachers had to say about this presidential election and what it means for us.

Pema Chödrön

“During difficult times like this, I’m feeling that the most important thing is our love for each other and remembering to express that and avoid the temptation to get caught in negative and aggressive thinking. Instead of polarizing, this is a chance to stay with the groundlessness. I’ve been meditating and getting in touch with a deep and profound sadness. It’s hard to stay with that much vulnerability but that’s what I’m doing. Groundlessness and tenderness and sadness have so much to teach us. I’m feeling that it’s a time to contact our hearts and to reach out and help in anyway we can.”

Norman Fischer, Everyday Zen Foundation

“I usually don’t completely believe what I think, so when Trump won the election I was, like everyone else, surprised, but not that surprised. Bodhisattvas are committed to their practice, which means to sit, to get up, and to sweep the garden — the whole world, close in and far away — every day, no matter what. They have always done this, they always will. Good times, bad times, they keep on going just the same. Bodhisattvas play the long game. They have confidence in the power of goodness over time. And they know that dark times bring out the heroic in us.

For those older among us who hold liberal and progressive political views, let’s not forget we survived Nixon, Reagan, and Bush. It wasn’t pleasant but we survived. We will survive Trump. This is not to say that the policies of those presidents weren’t bad, and that they did not make any lasting impact. They were and they did. Still, we survived. We will survive Trump. As of today, we don’t really know what will happen under Trump because nothing he has said so far means much. He seems not to have much commitment to his own words.

We have been fortunate to have had eight years with a decent, intelligent, thoughtful and caring human being in the White House. This is more we would have expected. Lets not forget that the same people who elected Obama elected Trump.

It’s OK to freak out, grieve, and vent for a while. Holds each others’ hands. Then we can get back to work, as always, for the good.

Think of what the Dalai Lama has gone through in his lifetime. He maintains daily practice, he maintains kindness for everyone, though he has lost his country and his culture at the hands of a brutal regime. Yet he doesn’t hate the Chinese and finds redeeming features in them. He maintains his sense of humor. He has turned his tragedy into a teaching for the world.

Lets do the same.”

Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, Village Zendo

“We are all reeling from the election news. For most of us, it is unexpected and frightening. Naturally, we ask ourselves what teaching can support us and empower us at this time. I think of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion who “hears the sounds of the world.”

And I realize how vital it is for all of us to listen to all the sounds of this unhappy nation. What suffering has led to the anger and hatred that has arisen? And, why are so many of us surprised at this outpouring? Perhaps we have not been listening to the cries of the world with ears of wisdom and determination.

This we must do, listen carefully, and while listening, we must move with determination to organize, to mobilize, and to find new ways to create change in civil rights, climate change, media ethics, and to inform and enlighten all the people, so that we can in fact relieve suffering and care for this planet, these peoples, all of us.”

Noah Levine, Against The Stream

“Here in the United States of Samsara ignorance is the status quo. The Buddha’s teachings guide us to go “against the stream” to develop wisdom and compassion through our own direct actions. As the path encourages, “Even amongst those who hate, we live with love in our hearts. Even amongst those who are blinded by greed and confusion, we practice generosity, kindness and clear seeing.”
Meditate and Destroy!”

Ethan Nichtern, Shambhala Meditation Center of New York

“When I was a child in New York City, I used to imagine that I lived in an island off the coast of America which was neither part of the continent nor the country. In the middle of the night last night, that childhood fantasy came back to me, but it was only wishful thinking. In fact, the source of all this disruption hails from the same city, which is a great reminder that we are all connected. I am a citizen of the mainland United States and I remain a very proud and patriotic one.

Right now my mindfulness practice is dedicated to my many friends who are expressing such unbearable hurt and fear at the hatred and abuse which this current version of America has directed at them. My many friends who are women, People of Color, members of the LGBT community, immigrants, and non-Christians are all rightfully expressing their fear and traumas right now, and I want to especially be there for them.

Soon, perhaps, I will try to make contact with those I know who voted for this outcome and do my best to listen to their fears and desires as well. I have no idea how that will go but I will do my best.

I also feel at least some optimism that this outcome sharpens and clarifies where humanity stands in the 21st-century. All of us must come together with empathy and connection if we are going to survive this era.

Tomorrow I will try to follow the lead of those whose vision I trust to see how I can help move our world forward with compassion. But today, it is OK to grieve the fact that we have taken a massive emotional and spiritual step backwards. Please remember, the point of meditation is not to suppress your feelings. It is to make friends with yourself. On days like this, meditation is simply a way to remember a glimmer of your own basic goodness. Please remember it is OK to feel exactly what you feel.

In loving kindness and solidarity with the human race, Ethan.”

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, Still Breathing Zen Meditation Center

“Today, after the 2016 elections in the U.S., we are living out the example of what happens when what goes unacknowledged surfaces and it feels like a new reality but you know in your heart it is not. To suffer based on expectations is to live haunted and hunted. But we are fortunate. There could be no other answer to our meditation and prayers in dissolving hatred than to be placed front and center with it and be exposed. When a shift in a system has occurred, especially one that causes fear and discomfort, it allows for something strikingly different to appear, furthering our evolution as people. We can only know where we are going when we get there.

Many of us have been practicing Buddha’s teachings or walking a spiritual journey forever and preparing for every moment of our existence. We are ready and have been waiting for this time. Our rage, pain, and anger are to be exposed if only for us to transform and mature with it. In Buddhist practice we say congratulations because now is the time we have been practicing for. No more just practicing the dance. We must now dance. And this is not a dress rehearsal.”

Roshi Joan Halifax, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center

“Standing at the edge of this election, it’s clear we have our work cut out for us. It is the work of love and wisdom in the face of the terrible suffering of war, environmental issues, racism, gender violence, and economic injustice. We have to work together to shift the tide toward what will benefit our children, the natural world, the future. Part of this means that we have to change the mind, move out of harsh negativity, eroding futility and fear, and build toward the good and the wise. We also have to work to shift the mood of the country and of the world through compassionate education, deep practice, and service to others.

Let’s reach through differences, listen deeply, and “give no fear.”

So please, stop and look deeply, and let’s work together in not building a contentious future, but a generative one. And let’s not pretend we know, but be open and learn; let’s bear witness to what is happening in our country, in our world, and take wise, compassionate, and courageous responsibility. Let’s reach through differences, listen deeply, and “give no fear.”

Here are the four great vows of the Bodhisattvas in community:

Creations are numberless, we vow to free them.

Delusions are inexhaustible, we vow to transform them.

Reality is Boundless, we vow to perceive it.

The awakened way is unsurpassable, we vow to embody it.

…. do not squander life!”

James Ishmael Ford, Boundless Way Zen

“I rather feel like I’ve awakened on the day after the apocalypse. As a member of the progressive community I am shocked and profoundly saddened by Trump’s campaign, which unapologetically appealed to fear of, if not outright hatred of pretty much all others. He casually insulted anyone not precisely like him, and frankly seemed to be little more than an incarnation of America’s Id. And, whatever I think of him and that campaign, while he in fact does not seem to have won a majority of America’s voters over, he did win the Electoral College and with that the election.

So, what now? I find a couple of emotions rising within my heart. One is to flee. I understand Canada’s immigration website crashed due to the number of visits to it last night. Of course that also represents all the privilege I bring along with being white and male and middle class. And beyond those immediate facts, I am cautioned by the Buddha’s “last temptation,” to take the peace and equanimity he found and to retire from the world. While he was a renunciant, he did not retire away from the world, but rather brought his monastic practice into the larger community, and continued to live and teach among people living in the world. The deeper point to this is that we are in fact made up of the world and there is no escape.

The other emotion racing over my heart has been to place blame, mostly on others, but also on myself. What would have been a better, or more skillful, simply put, more successful strategy? Who is responsible for this mess? And what shortcomings are at fault? These are in fact important things to consider, particularly those relevant to our own individual hearts, but to take a necessary step and make it what we’re about would be just one more mistake on a long list of mistakes. In this world we have to make decisions and some large percentage of them will be wrong. I’m ever mindful of our popular Western adaptation of something Eihei Dogen said, “one continuous mistake.”

So, what to do? What to do?

For me I find a couple of things are critical. One is to not forget my practice. Taking time and returning to the pillow is critical. For all sorts of reasons, but most of all to help me recall the fundamental matters of presence and intimacy.

The bottom line is recalling there is no separation.

Another is to recall all the suffering of the world. For me this starts with those who are terrorized by the event, the immigrant, the person of color, the GBLT person, women, everyone who seems themselves the target of Mr Trump’s campaign of purity. But, also, to recall the hurt and fear that led so many people to support him. To simply dismiss their emotions by cavalier broad struck condemnations, while it feels good, and I do like doing that, ultimately does no good. The Buddha was right in the great play of cause and effect we are all of us caught up in layer upon layer of grasping after things in flux.

For me the bottom line is recalling there is no separation. We have to act. There is no alternative. But, what will that action look like? More hate? More blame and condemnations? Or, can we genuinely recall there is in the last analysis no goal, but only the path? I think, feel, believe, if we can recall that last thing, we are all of us in this together, we are all of us, at the end, one; well, then ways through will appear.

We met the enemy and he is us. We met the friend and he is us. That is the secret that will win the ultimate victory.”

Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

“On this cheerful unaffected glorious day of democracy playing itself out, I am as shocked as many of you are by the election results. But, as Americans, we must respect the democratic system that our country was built upon, and welcome its results. Trump has won, and now we must see what happens next. While firmly believing in, and defending, one’s values and principles, we must also give this new president-elect the benefit of the doubt, and be open to see what he and his new administration can do for the good of our country. We want to honor the voice of many and trust in the goodness of the country. We want to respect our differences and also believe that there is goodness in everyone. We cannot afford to fall into pessimism. We must continually see where we can unite and keep looking forward together as this new era unfolds, without fixed pre-concepts.”

Much Love

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West Virginia teacher strike headed for a 9th day

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Striking teachers in West Virginia delivered yet another message to lawmakers Monday by packing the state Capitol to capacity, the eighth school day of the walkout.

The show of support by thousands didn’t immediately sway the lawmakers, who failed to agree on a 5 percent pay raise that would end the strike, forcing districts to cancel school again Tuesday. The governor, union leaders and the House of Delegates agreed to the pay raise for the teachers, among the lowest paid in the nation, but the Senate offered only a 4 percent increase.

However, a conference committee of House and Senate members met twice Monday, adjourning until Tuesday morning after Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns said his chamber’s leadership was offering “a compromise position.” He noted it was only preliminary. Details were not publicly disclosed.

Senate Finance Chairman Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, and Ferns, R-Ohio, said earlier that they remained skeptical that revised, higher revenue figures from Gov. Jim Justice to support the higher pay raises were legitimate. Blair suggested that schools reopen while the Legislature tries to work on the bills, prompting groans from the audience.

Ghent Elementary second-grade teacher April Smith attended the meeting and was disheartened.

“I don’t see them coming to an agreement, especially to satisfy everyone,” she said.

The committee’s initial inaction prompted schools statewide to close again Tuesday, the ninth day of canceled classes.

The Capitol was closed Monday after 5,000 people entered, posing security concerns. It was reopened an hour later, and teachers vented their frustration over the lack of progress. Their strike, in one of the poorest states in the country, has disrupted the education system’s 277,000 students and 35,000 employees, forcing working parents to scramble for child care. And children who rely on meals at school were at risk of going hungry.

In a state with a 17.9 percent poverty rate, teachers, bus drivers and other volunteers are collecting food for students who rely on free breakfasts and lunches. Teachers shared stories of donating their time, money or food. At least two GoFundMe pages have been launched in support of the walkout.

“It does make you feel good because we are helping them,” said Ann Osburn, a special education teacher at Buckhannon Academy. “I think we’re reaching as many as we can.”

Rachel Stringer, as a stay-at-home mom from Cross Lanes, said her biggest challenge has been making sure her children don’t forget what they’ve learned this school year. Despite the long layoff, Stringer supports the teachers.

“They deserve to be paid,” she said. “They deserve to be able to have insurance.”

Many teachers said they’d rather be in the classroom but believe they’ve come too far to back down.

“We feel like we’re under attack constantly,” said Cody Thompson, a social studies and civics teacher at Elkins High School. “Eventually, whenever you’re pushed into a corner, you’ve got to push back.”

The teacher walkout over pay and benefits shuttered classrooms Feb. 22. Since then, angry teachers have gone to the Capitol to press legislators to raise their pay after four years without an increase.

The walkout began after Justice signed a 2 percent pay raise for next year. After an initial round of protests, the House of Delegates later approved a 5 percent increase.

Then on Saturday, the state Senate approved a 4 percent raise, prompting angry union leaders to vow to stay out indefinitely. The House wouldn’t agree to the Senate’s move, sending the bill to the conference committee.

To make ends meet for themselves, many of these teachers have side jobs.

Kristie Skidmore, an elementary school reading specialist, has a clothing shop at her home.

“You’re looking at people here who every day care about other people, other families. People’s kids,” Skidmore said. “But at the end of the day, now we’re forced to be able to figure out how to care for our own families.”

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Teacher In Custody After Firing Gun Inside Georgia High School, Police Say

A Georgia high school teacher is in custody after authorities say he barricaded himself inside of an empty classroom and fired a gun as students stood outside.

The shooting, which took place just before noon on Wednesday, led to a frantic lockdown at Dalton High School that resulted in only a minor ankle injury to a student as she was running down the halls, police said at a press conference.

Dalton police spokesman Bruce Frazier said the classroom was empty of students at the time of the shooting. The teacher, who has not been identified, had locked himself inside of the room, refusing to allow students inside. 

When the school’s principal tried to get in the classroom, the teacher again forced the door shut. It was shortly after that that witnesses reported hearing at least one gunshot, he said.

“Obviously at that point, [the principal] locked down the school, he called all the police in, the school resources in,” Frazier added.

There was a school resource officer present at the time of the incident, Frazier said, though the officer’s exact location wasn’t immediately known.

The teacher was taken into custody about 45 minutes later without further incident and is expected to face charges, Frazier said.

Students at the school, which is located about 90 miles north of Atlanta, were taken off campus, where their parents could pick them up, police said on Twitter.

Frazier added that the news of gunfire at the school had “absolutely” left him rattled.

“It jacked up my blood pressure by several points,” he said of his response to hearing the news on a police scanner. “I’m really impressed by how our people responded.” 

The frightening incident came the same day that classes resumed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, two weeks after a lone gunman killed 17 people.

It also followed heated debates on gun control across the country.

President Donald Trump, who met with survivors of the Parkland shooting last week, has suggested arming teachers and other faculty members to help prevent school shootings.

That suggestion led some on social media to ridicule the idea following news of the teacher’s arrest.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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Teacher Says FL Shooter Was in Full Body Armor, Face Mask, and She Thought He Was a Cop

body armorbody armor

Parkland, Florida – A teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School said she encountered the man who reportedly shot and killed 17 people, and she initially believed he was a police officer, based on the body armor he was wearing and the unidentifiable firearm he was shooting in her direction.

Stacy Lippel, a creative writing teacher at the school, told Good Morning America that the Valentine’s Day rampage began with a fire drill, which forced all of her students out of the classroom and into the hall. Within seconds, gunshots rang out, and as students began panicking and screaming, she said she ushered them back into her classroom.

“I don’t know how many kids were in there, but I was pulling them and getting them in, and shouting at them to get in the room, and then I suddenly saw the shooter about 20 feet from me, standing at the end of the hallway actively shooting down the hallway,” Lippel said. “Just a barrage of bullets and I’m staring at him thinking ‘Why are the police here? This is strange,’ because he’s in full metal garb, helmet, face mask, bulletproof armor, shooting this rifle that I’ve never seen before.”

Other reports have claimed that suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz was wearing body armor at the time of the shooting. CNN reported that Cruz was a member of a group chat on Instagram where, in addition to sharing details about the firearms he owned, making racist comments and sharing his desire to commit mass murder, he also said he purchased body armor.

In one message, Cruz wrote, “Guys I got paid 330. I am buying body armor.” He then posted receipts that documented his purchase and asked the group if it was legal to wear body armor in school. When a member asked why he wanted to know, Cruz replied, “School shooters.”

This was far from the first time Cruz warned that he planned to commit mass murder or to carry out a school shooting. He spelled it out clearly on YouTube, leaving comments that said “I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” that he was “going to kill law enforcement one day.” Yet despite multiple credible reports to the FBI and at least 20 calls to local police that warned of death threats from Cruz, law enforcement did nothing to attempt to prevent the shooting.

On the day that Stoneman Douglas was attacked, Stacy Lippel told GMA that she saw the shooter and then quickly closed her classroom door, while urging her fellow teacher, Scott Beigel, to close his door as well.

“He couldn’t see the shooter, but I had a good visual of him, which is why I told him to shut his door now,” Lippel said. “I heard him shoot a barrage of bullets into Mr. Beigel’s room. And then he came to my room and shot four or five shots into my room, breaking the glass of my door.”

Scott Beigel was one of the 17 people killed in the attack. Even though the shooter was only near her classroom for moments before he continued his rampage down the hall, Lippel said that she and her students stayed huddled in the room. “I never really knew when he left because we all thought he was still here,” she said.

Lippel said that it took nearly an hour for police to finally enter the hallway and to begin assessing the wounded students and teachers. She also noted that because the shooter was wearing an outfit that made him look like a member of the SWAT team, she was hesitant to let the officers into her classroom.

“It was so quiet, and then all of a sudden I hear helicopters outside far, far in the distance … Police officers far, far in the distance. Kids were screaming in the hallway for help,” Lippel said. “We’re trained not to let anybody in the room, and I would say a good 45 minutes went by, maybe an hour, and then we heard the SWAT team come on the floor, but I still didn’t trust that it was them, because they were banging on the doors, ‘Police! Let us in,’ and no one got up.”

The latest details describing the shooter raise significant questions about the timeline of the shooting. According to a report from the Sun Sentinel, Cruz was picked up by an Uber at 2:06 p.m. and then dropped him off at the school at 2:19 p.m. He then entered the freshman building at 2:21 p.m.

The shooting reportedly lasted 7 minutes, which included enough time for a freshman student named Chris McKenna to find Cruz loading his rifle, and then to flee to get help when Cruz told him, “things are gonna start getting messy.”

The school confirmed that Cruz exited the building at 2:28 p.m. and blended in with other students who were fleeing campus. Given that he may have set off more warning signs if he had been fully clothed in body armor when he was riding in an Uber or entering the school, the timeline gives him just 7 minutes to load his rifle, put on his body armor, shoot 31 people, discard the gun and the body armor and then exit the building.

The timeline comes in addition to comments from other students claiming that they believed there were multiple shooters. Student Alexa Miednik even said she had a conversation with Cruz while she was evacuating the school, and she heard additional gunshots in the background.

During that time period, while the gunman was allowed to roam freely about the school building, at least four armed police officers cowered outside. The school resource officer, who could have taken out the attacker within minutes, and the three officers from the Broward County Sheriff’s department who were the first to arrive at the scene, stayed outside and waited for reinforcements, while innocent children died inside.

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Head teacher under fire over Millennial tirade

boarding school


The head teacher of one of England’s top boarding schools is under fire after branding his students’ generation “mollycoddled, entitled and spoilt.”

Douglas Robb, who has been head teacher of the £34,000-a-year Gresham’s school in Norfolk for the past three years, blasted millennials for having a “sense of entitlement” as they think a “one-in-a million-job” will land on their doorstep in no time.

Making the comments in a blog post on the school website, he wrote: “They have been advertised to since birth; they have had credit and loans on a plate; they have been overly molly-coddled; and they have been overwhelmed by a strange combination of fictional sitcom characters, reality TV and social media stars, who paint a picture of perfection to be achieved.

They have even been encouraged by governments to believe that they deserve ‘more’ than their parents and grandparents had.” Angry past attendees hit back, deriding Robb for generalising.

Rebecca Lawrence, 23, who attended Gresham’s between 2007 and 2011 – before Robb became head teacher – responded to the criticism in an article on the blogging site Medium.

“Negative stereotypes of millennials are two-a-penny and you don’t have to look far to find the source.

“It’s disheartening for anyone to hear, whether it’s their head teacher or one they’re linked with,” she wrote.

“I feel like he’s in a Gresham’s bubble, maybe children at his school are privileged and so are more entitled but he shouldn’t generalise our generation from a few.”

Lawrence added: “It was quite personal to me, as growing up I had a lot of jobs in restaurants and cafes to finance unpaid internships.”

Robb stood by his comments saying: “Generalisation is a necessary part of life if we are to be able to discuss trends that seem to be more prevalent among a particular group of people.”

He added: “It is now well documented that employers have noticed a trend where young people seem ill-prepared for the requirements of the working day, despite boasting an impressive academic education.

“I believe it is valuable for educators and governments to be informed about this in order to better prepare or equip young people for work.”

Gresham ranks among the top 30 boarding schools in England. Founded in 1555, it has around 800 pupils aged three to 18, and boasts illustrious alumni including the actress Olivia Colman, the composer Benjamin Britten and the poet W H Auden.

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Slain Teacher Told His Fiancee What To Say If He Died In A School Shooting

A high school teacher shot to death while protecting students in last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, once considered that he could die in such violence, and gave his fiancee instructions on what to say if it happened.

Scott Beigel’s fiancee, Gwen Gossler, told mourners at his funeral on Sunday that they were watching news coverage of another school shooting when he made the comment.

“Promise me if this ever happens to me, you will tell them the truth — tell them what a jerk I am, don’t talk about the hero stuff,” Gossler said Beigel teased, according to the New York Post’s account of the service at Temple Beth El in Boca Raton.

“OK, Scott, I did what you asked,’’ Gossler continued tearfully. “Now I can tell the truth. You are an amazingly special person. You are my first love and my soulmate.’’ 

Pallbearers walk the casket of Scott Beigel, a teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, following a service at Temple Beth El in Boca Raton, Fla., on Sunday. (Sun Sentinel via Getty Images)Pallbearers walk the casket of Scott Beigel, a teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, following a service at Temple Beth El in Boca Raton, Fla., on Sunday. (Sun Sentinel via Getty Images)

Beigel, a 35-year-old geography teacher and cross-country coach, was one of 17 people killed in the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Some students said they took refuge in Beigel’s classroom when he unlocked his door for them as the gunman stalked the halls. The killer shot Beigel in the doorway before he could lock the door again.

Kelsey Friend, one of Beigel’s students, expressed her gratitude to his family on CNN.

“Thank you for bringing and having this amazing person in life and giving him the power to be stronger than I could have ever been,” she said. 

Beigel’s father, Michael Schulman, also reflected on his son’s heroism during Sunday’s service, but noted it wasn’t just one moment.

“I don’t want Scott’s memory to be the horrific moment on that afternoon,” Schulman said, according to Newsday. “Scott’s heroism was not that instant. Scott’s heroism was his entire life.”

Scott’s heroism was not that instant. Scott’s heroism was his entire life.” Michael Schulman, Scott Beigel’s father

His mother, who said her son called her every day as he was leaving work, expressed her heartbreak as she read a letter she wrote to him.

She called her son an “amazing man,” and ended it with a request: “Please let me know where you are.”

On Sunday, a funeral service was also held for 14-year-old student Jaime Guttenberg, whose father, Fred Guttenberg, remembered her for her love of dancing, her favorite color of orange, and her “unbelievable ability to never stop talking,” the Miami Herald reported.

In a moment of unrepressed anger, her father lashed out against gun violence and President Donald Trump, telling those at the service: “Nobody will tell me that gun violence does not exist!”

Alex Schachter, a 14-year-old trombone and baritone player, was also laid to rest on Sunday, the Sun Sentinel reported. Alex’s father, speaking to The New York Times, described him as “a sweetheart of a kid,” and said “he just wanted to do well and make his parents happy.”

On Monday, two more funerals are scheduled, for 15-year-old Luke Hoyer and for 14-year-old Alaina Petty.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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