POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 5, 2012:
Love Letters, hate mail
I was disappointed in Mary Smith being misquoted or the lack of mentioning one other great university in the August 23-29, 2012 issue where you left out OSU as one of the producers of great engineers. Afterall she did instruct at the downtown OSU Tulsa campus about ten years or so. Was it a slight misprint or typo by the Urban Tulsa? Or is TU, OU, and ORU the only universities within the state that produces great engineers? I think not. Maybe Urban Tulsa is not familiar with the Engineering department of OSU? Feel free to check them out and compare notes. There's plenty enough nepotism and cronyism in this state as well as the nation that this industry here in Tulsa needs not be a part of? Hopefully you're not enouraging nor promoting it anymore than what we already have as a problem in this city and state. Other than that, I enjoyed the article.
--Derek Alexandrian, Alexandrian Aviation
Editor's Note: OSU certainly is a great university, with lots going on and lots of Tulsans attending that institution. Go Pokes! We didn't mention Georgia Tech, Purdue, or egad, the University of Michigan either. The misquoting (where exactly?) is news to us. Mary Smith has not contacted UTW about a misquote, but we would be happy to address any legit complaints.
Right after the Martin Luther King assassination, an Iowa teacher named Jane Elliot asked her class of white 8-year-olds what they knew about black people. According to Wikipedia, she stated, "And I could see that they weren't internalizing a thing. They were doing what white people do. When white people sit down to discuss racism what they are experiencing is shared ignorance." So with the agreement of the students, she divided her class up into blue-eyed and brown-eyed students. In WWII, Jews had been sent to the gas chambers that way.
She gave the blue-eyed students special privileges, and in general had them treat the brown-eyed children to the same discrimination as Blacks in the South, even to the point of dispensing pseudo-scientific clap trap to support it. By the end of the day, the blue-eyed minority was behaving like true bigots, and the brown-eyed majority like a beaten people. The next day, Ms. Elliot reversed the situation. Then the brown-eyed children behaved like bigots, but not quite as bad as the first bunch.
When most people discuss mental illness, they mostly share ignorance and stereotypes. Like many states, Oklahoma's mental health code and legal system is a huge blue-eyes/brown-eyes experiment, let run to ghastly lengths. Without a shred of scientific or medical standards or proof about who can be predicted to be "dangerous," it puts the onus on those who are feared to prove that they are not. It literally defines a person to be "in need of treatment" if that person is merely accused of threatening another person while mentally ill. The people in charge of that system then take that license to transform mere accusation into proven "fact," against which no defense is allowed. Under those conditions, it is almost impossible not to be committed.
Oh, really? You think if they hadn't done something wrong, they wouldn't be there? So if this kind of marsupial justice were applied to you, how would you define "ghastly"? For, according to reasonable estimates from medical research, if one were to impose the standard that ten dangerous people be let free for every harmless person committed, the State mental courts and facilities could only commit about 15 out of every 1000 people brought before them, of which 10 would be harmless.
Certainly the State Council on Judicial Complaints doesn't worry about it much. If a mental health court judge accepts hearsay as proven fact, makes utterly no attempt to find any "less restrictive alternative," files a false claim about available medical information, and refuses to allow a defendant to plead his or her situation at the commitment hearing, the Council will dismiss any complaint. It claims to be "limited by the constitution and statutes of Oklahoma to matters concerning misconduct and physical and mental ability of persons occupying judicial positions."
One might reasonably suspect that the Council consists entirely of blue-eyed 2nd graders.
Leave Them Kids Alone
For us non-engineers, is this algebra necessary?
I hated it. It was frustrating. It was sheer misery. It was a mystery. It was dry as dust.
It makes some students feel stupid and is a major reason for as many as 30 percent of kids dropping out.
These x's and y's keep hundreds of kids from passing end of instruction tests and graduating from high school.
"I'm here because of algebra," a man told me when I ran for governor. His mama dropped out of school because she feared algebra so much and she married his poppa.
In Maimi, Boy Scouts gave me a standing ovation when I proposed making alebra an elective, instead of a required, subject.
I never understood anything my algebra teacher said.
I got nothing out of my math classes but post-traumatic stress.
My teacher said, "Virginia, I'll pass you on the basis that you never take another math class." I followed her advice.
Nevertheless, I was able to have a successful career with biological sciences as a dental hygienist.
Let's just teach us math-averse kids statistics, budgeting and math used in public and personal life.
It's fool-hardy to require all students to take algebra's abstract equations. We non-engineers will never use it.
I don't care to know when a train leaving New York will pass a train leaving Los Angeles at twice the speed.
A great algebra tutor, the late Bruce Combest, makes the best case against "vectorial angles and discontinuous functions."
Combest said, "Algebra is not for everybody."
--Virginia "Blue Jeans" Jenner
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