Archive for March, 2008

Letter to the Editor — Revision

March 28, 2008

A crisis looms in education.

Previously attributing the danger to adolescent failure to accept personal responsibility, that failure must begin somewhere, and it appears closely linked to a decrease in parental involvement in their children’s education.

I teach high school in Indiana, and my school’s Parent-Teacher-Organization recently sent a letter to district parents and teachers about the dearth of volunteers for leadership roles within the organization.  I do not intend to air my district’s dirty laundry, but as a parent of children in Niles Community Schools and in preschool downtown, I am recognizing similar patterns of parents failing to take an active role in the future of their children.  When my daughter’s assistant principal reminds parents at Open House that children’s educational success is dependent upon their presence in school, and my son’s preschool director cautions parents about the dangers inherent in letting a child play violent video games after their child threatens others, I see children who won’t enter my classroom door for another decade, learning the true value of their own education through their parents.

 Averting this crisis may be as simple as participating in the lives of children, showing them your interest will help them become interested.  

Response from Promoting Educational Achievement for Children Early

March 27, 2008

I heard back from my county level organization that is affiliated with the United Way, and the services www.riverwoodcenter.org provides includes free classes of training for parents and caregivers in class format for the following topics: 

  • Promoting the Social Emotional Health of Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers
  • Challenging Behavior
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Caring for the Caregiver

Services are free to participants, but the sessions for April are currently full.  Again, your local United Way may be an outlet you can contact for information on programs in your area if you’re facing a childcare or preschool problem. 

From one dad to another — Second Audio Version

March 27, 2008

Audio currently unavilable.  Reposting to come.

Browse a bookstore on parenting, and you’ll see that advice books for moms out number books for dads 50 to 1.  If you read a parenting magazine, you’ll find it geared entirely to the female partner in parenting.  All the pronouns are she unless the tale is told in first person by a father, and those anecdotes are frequently included to show women how incompetent dads can be, serving toaster waffles to the kids for dinner when the wife has to go out of town for a business trip.  It’s as if dads don’t exist, or somebody thinks we know what to do.  When it comes to being a dad, most of us learn from our own dads. 

But once my father told me he never changed a diaper, I realized that any criticisms from either of my parents regarding how my brothers and I and our wives divide our jobs and raise our children do not hold as much water as they once did.  I recognized in that moment that any critiques my parents have, come from what they know – or knew — and their own experiences.   

Don’t get me wrong, I think they did a fine job.  After all, I’m no worse for wear.  But as times have changed, perspectives of how a dad behaves and responds to his children have too.   

For instance, last night, I got home and my oldest was making crowns.  She ran to me and gave me a hug and rushed back to the table and started searching through her box of crafts.   

As she grabbed a thin piece of cardboard and started tracing, my daughter said, “We have to make Daddy one for the parade.” 

“The parade?” I asked.   

“There will be a crown parade after dinner,” my wife said.   

After dinner, my daughter nearly poked me in the eye with the pipe cleaners that were to hold this wee crown in place, and my wife insisted on putting polka dots on despite my begging her to stop the indignity.  As I found myself being led in circles around the house, I said, “My father never would have done this.” 

My father also would not have invited any of us to crawl into bed beside him as I did after discovering my son up in his bedroom,  lights ablaze, with what appeared to be every toy in the house scattered on the floor nearly two hours after he was tucked in and told in no uncertain terms that it was bedtime and he was to “stay in bed.”   

How would Dad have handled the frustration of suddenly hearing a newly independent 3 year old crying out from the bathroom, “I’m done” because his arms are too short to wipe himself properly.   

Only then to hear his wife exclaim, “What did you do?”   

Followed by the standard response from a 3 year old, “I don’t know.”   

Discovering then that the 3 year old, who got poop on the toilet seat, peed his pants, and had been feeding a stream of toilet paper into the toilet from the roll while he sat without once tearing it, was about to flush nearly half a roll of toilet paper.

Fifteen minutes later, Dad called, heard the story and laughed, and asked with a smile in his voice, if everyone was still alive.  He erased the doubt and reminded me of everything he did do.    

He taught my brothers and I responsibility and integrity.  He encouraged us to do our best, and led by example, graduating at the top of his class from law school despite having a family and a job.  He took us fishing, and while he rolled his eyes when I preferred to throw rocks instead of fish, he didn’t stop taking me.  He took us to movies when Mom needed a few hours to herself.  He tried to get us to do new things and challenged us to participate in life rather than just stand idly and watch from the sidelines.  He took my brothers and I, and often our friends whose fathers were perhaps less active, sledding every winter even after he nearly broke his nose performing a particularly nasty jump. 

No, he would not have sewn the lips back on to the stuffed fish that his child had managed to tear off. 

But, he drove me to the hospital in the small hours of the morning after I’d fallen out of the top bunk and cut open my head.  He filled out the forms and held me in the emergency room, though the sight of blood makes him pass out.  After I was sewn back together, we went to get donuts.  And I got to pick. 

There were certainly no parenting books or magazines geared for dads as my dad tried to figure it all out.  Instead, he carefully weighed the advice his parents gave him and somehow knew when to listen and when to ignore. 

So while Dad may not have changed diapers, he taught me what it means for a father to love his children.  And while the advice he and my mom give me now may not always be dead on, I hope my wife and I do as good a job raising our children as they did theirs.

Public schools vs. Private schools (or parental responsibility)

March 26, 2008

In response to the following comment:

“I’m going to play “devil’s advocate” here and would like you, as an educator and parent, to respond.

I work in the public schools. I do not have children. I listen to my colleagues complain about how many public-school parents shirk their responsibilities in raising their kids and valuing education, but from my perspective, so many public-school parents do not have good role models. I’m not talking about the parents’ parents, I’m talking about OTHER parents at the schools.

From what I see, many of the so-called “good-role-model” parents (that is, the ones who read the bulletins, attend parent-teacher conferences and read to their kids) are sending their little darlings to private and parochial schools because, apparently, the public schools just aren’t up to their standards. So, rather than working to make their neighborhood schools better by getting involved, attending school board meetings, running for school board, writing their legislators to demand mandates be funded, etc, they pay the extra jack and drive the extra mile to get their kids out of the public schools, often THE VERY SAME public schools they work for.

Last week, two of my colleagues were wah-ing because their children’s Spring Break didn’t match up to the Spring Break scheduled for our school corporation’s. I took out my tiny violin and shook my head. What are these people thinking and what does it tell the children they are raising? That public schools should not be valued? These kids are going to grow up to be legislators and voters; how will they act towards public schools for which their parents demonstrated such low regard?

People who work for public schools but send their kids elsewhere make me wonder: “why in the name of social justice would you work for an organization you yourself don’t believe in enough to send your own offspring?”

My mother told me that when her father worked for Studebaker you could drive past the Studebaker employee parking area and see a lot of Fords, Packards and Chevys but very few Studebakers. Apparently those workers didn’t believe in their own products; Studebaker ceased production in South Bend in 1963.

We ask public-school parents to value public school education. Do all of us?”

Here is my response: 

Firstly, my children do not attend private school.  They attend a different public school than where I teach because my wife and I chose to live in-between the districts where we taught, so instead of making one of us drive 80 minutes one way, we split the difference.  My kids don’t have the same Spring Break I do either.

I’ve considered sending our kids to private schools because the public schools I’ve come to know are not the public schools I knew as a student in them.  But I don’t know if the fault is with the school, the community, or the student population.  Probably a little of all three if we’re being honest. 

But when I consider private, I realize that the roles my wife and I play in our children’s lives in public or private school will ultimately help determine their success.  Parents who send their kids to private schools are most likely sending them to private schools because they are concerned about their children’s education, so private schools have a tendency to be preaching to the choir when it comes to taking a child’s education seriously.  But regardless of whether you are a parent who has no choice but to send your children to public schools or if you are a parent who consciously chooses to send your children to public schools, you have a responsibility. 

If we’re talking about role models, or the lack thereof, we are not condemned to failure because we haven’t seen success, for there are those who see nothing but success their entire lives who choose to destroy themselves.  These are adults we’re talking about here.  It’s a bit like Cassius telling Brutus, the fault is not in the stars but in ourselves.  Cassius recognizes it’s our fault that we are underlings.  Our fault.  So what does Cassius plan to do?  Kill Caesar.

If you have a child, you have a responsibility to do right by the child.  Sometimes that’s private school, sometimes that’s public school, sometimes it’s the best you can do.  Not every parent has to be the stellar volunteer, and not every parent can attend everything there is to attend.  But as indicated in my entry here, a principal should not have to tell parents it’s important their children attend school. 

If a public school teacher sends his child to a private school, that’s fine; he’s still paying for the public system.  I’m not about to judge the public teacher’s preference, for her private school choice may be religious based, but even if it isn’t, she has the right to do the best she can for her child.

Letter to the Editor

March 17, 2008

Letter to the Editor of the Niles Daily Star:

A crisis looms in education, and I imagine things will get worse before they get better. 

I am concerned about funding valuable educational programs, and I am concerned about the future of teachers’ jobs, and I am concerned about how best to increase language and math literacy.  However, the crisis I see is the decrease in parental involvement in their children’s education accompanied by a growing failure of students to accept personal responsibility.

I teach high school in Indiana, and my high school’s PTO recently sent a letter to district parents and teachers about the dearth of volunteers for leadership roles within the organization.  It is not my intention to air my district’s dirty laundry, but as a parent of a child in the Niles Community Schools and another in preschool at The Children’s Center downtown, I am recognizing similar patterns.  My daughter’s assistant principal should not have to remind parents that it is the parents’ responsibility that their child attends school.  My son’s preschool director should not have to caution parents about the dangers inherent in letting a child play violent video games after their child threatens others. 

To have and have not — persuasive revision

March 17, 2008

Who has and who hasn’t?  It’s not easy to tell. 

It’s no surprise to the average American that there is a significant gap between the haves and have-nots in our country.  Because of financial hardships it’s politically risky, bordering on personally foolish, to ask for people to approve higher taxes for schools.  However, the quality of a school district reflects on the quality of a community.  If the community supports its schools, property values reflect that support.  Far too often, however, we look at the schools in our communities and assume they are better off than they really are.

As the economy suffers, so too does the public school system.  Districts all over the country are evaluating and reevaluating programs for their quality and importance.  Many valuable programs face cuts and as programs do, so do the teachers involved in those programs.  As states try to balance their budgets, school funding is cut, and California is just one example.  Michigan, where I live, and Indiana, where I work, suffer their own financial problems, yet meanwhile Michigan’s Governor Granholm and Indiana’s Governor Daniels are pushing for full day kindergarten across their respective states. With the newest tax plan in Indiana, The Indianapolis Star reports that local governments and school districts now face “a reduction of revenue and cuts in services.”  With limited financial resources, how do such programs get paid for, and where should a district focus its attention to best serve those who have and those who have not?

The cover article of the March 2008 neatoday — “Mind the Gap” — addresses the technological gap present in society today.  The article illustrates the clear difference in haves and have-nots.  The opening paragraph of the article describes a family in Virginia with three children who each have their own computer in their respective bedrooms.  The article contrasts the Virginian family with a young man in Mississippi who has no computer access at home and must drive 40 miles every day to research colleges and apply for student loans at a community center. 

The article describes what communities and individuals are doing across the country to help narrow this tech gap, and I applaud the efforts of those like Andrew Rasiej, “who advises members of Congress on the use of the Internet in politics and policy, [and] is an advocate for universal Internet access.”  However, where does supporting universal Internet access put other programs that actually educate children?  While great and useful and an aid to students who would otherwise be left behind technologically, does universal Internet come at the expense of programs in early elementary education that focus on literacy and math skills?   Is it the responsibility of schools to address this technology gap? 

The school district where I teach is, admittedly, technologically wealthy.  The grants that have been written to provide teachers and students with the smart board technology, computers in every classroom, on-line attendance and report cards, and Writing Center could fill a room.  Because of our technology, we are assumed — by those inside and outside our corporation — to be a wealthy school district.  However, our socio-economic demographics have changed over the past decade, and this trend of diversification will only continue.   We prepare ourselves to teach and reach an increasingly socio-economically diverse population while continuing to provide all students with the diverse academic offerings we have always provided.  I think my district realizes that technology is not always the answer to reaching all students.  The gap in education should be bridged earlier, and it is the achievement gap, not the technology gap where we wish to focus our attention.  That is why we are offering all day kindergarten at more elementary schools next, and our goal is to phase in all day everywhere by 2010.

The offerings of all day kindergarten for next year were decided based on the greatest need for early intervention as measured by the schools’ free and reduced lunch percentages.  One school identified as a participant in next year’s all day program faced percentages of nearly 40 to 50 percent free and reduced lunch.  That’s around half of the student population and their families attending that school qualifying for free and reduced lunch.  We may have a hard time meeting our 2010 goal with the new property tax law in Indiana, but there are still things a voter can do to protect his community and his schools.

It’s nearly May, and that means for a lot of you – not just Hoosiers — that you’ll have an election dealing with bond issues and millage requests, and you may even find yourself voting for school board members who value the programs important to you.  When you find yourself at the polls, wondering if you should vote for or against the raise in taxes or millage that will provide for your school, don’t assume that just because the school has written the grants necessary to provide bells and whistles for the children that they are a rich district.  Consider all the information available to you, do your research and decide what’s important, for the future of your community counts on it.      

 

 

Thanks Dad — Text for Audio piece

March 6, 2008

Once my father told me he never changed a diaper, I came to realize that any criticisms from either of my parents regarding how my brothers and I and our wives divide our jobs and raise our children do not hold as much water as they once did.  I recognized in that moment that any critiques my parents have, come from what they know – or knew — and their own experiences. 

Don’t get me wrong, I think they did a fine job.  I’m no worse for wear.  But as with other changes over time, expectations change.

For instance, last night, I got home and my oldest was making crowns.  She ran to me and gave me a hug and rushed back to the table and started searching through her box of crafts.  My wife asked, “What are you doing?” 

As she grabbed a new template, my daughter said, “We have to make Daddy one for the parade.”

“The parade?” I asked. 

“There will be a crown parade after dinner,” my wife informed me. 

Sure enough, after dinner, my daughter nearly poked me in the eye with the pipe cleaners that were to hold my wee crown in place on my head, and my wife insisted on putting polka dots on my crown even after my begging her to stop the indignity.  As I found myself being led in circles around the house, I said, “My father never would have done this.”

My father also would not have invited any of us to crawl into bed beside him after discovering one of us up in our bedroom with the lights on playing with what appeared to be every toy in the universe scattered on the floor nearly two hours after we were told in no uncertain terms that it was bedtime and we were to “stay in bed.”  Yes, that too happened in our home last night. 

Dad also would likely have experienced the same frustration of being on the phone with his dad and hearing a newly independent 3 year old crying out from the bathroom, “I’m done” because his arms are too short to wipe himself properly.  Only then to hear his wife exclaim, “What did you do?”  And the standard response from a 3 year old, “I don’t know.”  Apologizing then for ending the call and discovering that somehow the 3 year old got poop on the toilet seat, peed his pants, and had been feeding a stream of toilet paper into the toilet from the roll while he sat without once tearing it was about to attempt to flush nearly half a roll of toilet paper.  

Fifteen minutes later, my dad called back, with a smile in his voice, to make sure everyone was still alive.  Then I remembered everything Dad did do.  

He encouraged us to do our best.  He took us fishing and he took us to movies.  He tried to get us to do new things.  He took us, and more often than not our friends whose fathers were perhaps less active, sledding every winter even after he nearly broke his nose on a particularly nasty jump.

No, he would not have sewn lips back on to the stuffed fish that his child had managed to tear off.

He did, however, drive me to the hospital in the wee small hours of the morning after I’d fallen out of the top bunk and cut open my head.  He filled out the forms and held me in the waiting room even though the sight of blood tends to make him pass out.  After I was sewn up, he even took us to get donuts. 

He carefully weighed the advice his parents gave him and somehow knew when to listen and when to ignore.  So while Dad may not have changed diapers, he taught me what it means for a father to love his children.  And while the advice he and my mom give me now may not always be dead on, I hope my wife and I do as good a job raising our children as they did theirs.

  

Others

March 5, 2008

There may not necessarily be easy answers out there, but there are other parents dealing with preschool bullies.  Whether your child is the bully or victim, I believe the answers are hard to find, but if we talk about potential solutions instead of just being surprised, we may at least learn to protect our children by trying out suggestions.  Visitors to my site are looking for “how to handle preschool age bullies,”  “preschooler no longer wants to go to school,” “how to make a preschooler behave,” and “bullies hitting back.”  And those visits are just from the past two days, but lots of folks are just visiting.  If you’re looking at how to deal with these problems, I would like to invite you again to leave a comment.  What are you dealing with, and what are you looking for?  I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but maybe I can find one for you.  Parents out there are exploring their problem publically, too.  A site I found today has a fresh entry this week on this very problem.  You might want to check out “Twins Beautiful Life” here

“Let’s put on a play” — Explanatory Revision

March 4, 2008

  

Despite being a community theater actor, I am consistently awed by the work put into a local production that local people stage for local audiences, and my experience in mid-February at South Bend Civic Theatre (SBCT) confirmed such high production values with its latest Studio Theater effort, John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, A Parable. 

Premiering off-Broadway in 2004, and awarded the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and four 2005 Tony Awards, including Best Play, SBCT’s production of Shanley’s play illustrates SBCT’s efforts to stage current, significant, award receiving work for local audiences.  As a sometime actor for SBCT, I shamefully admit that until I sat in the audience for Doubt, A Parable, I had never consciously considered the diverse efforts put into any production but the ones I participated in. 

 

Most plays produced by SBCT begin with the play selection process.  Letters are sent out to prospective directors in late spring, soliciting suggestions for the Play Reading Committee.  This means for Doubt, A Parable that it was only two years removed from its critical accolades, and such a well-received script is oftentimes unavailable for community theaters so early in its life; in fact, Executive Director of SBCT, Jim Coppens believes SBCT’s production was one of the first community theater stagings of Shanley’s play.

 

Once a play is selected for the next season, SBCT builds its schedule.  Plays and musicals get directors, and directors learn their time slots and venue.  No longer confined to producing and fitting everything in a 19th century firehouse seating 77, and now able to choose between an intimate black box studio space and a larger auditorium, Doubt was appropriately slated by the Play Reading Committee and SBCT Board for the black box.

 

The black box affords greater intimacy with the play for the audience, and much like the former Firehouse space, where the action can literally occur inches from the face of the audience, such proximity demands the attention to detail technical wizards like David Chudzynski and Matt Davidson consistently produce.  As a result, the first technical meeting often comes next.  While these technical meetings are largely a mystery to me, the art that Messrs. Chudzynski and Davidson — and the volunteers they lead — manage to create, amazes and astounds and can go woefully unnoticed as the pieces which slowly appear over the course of rehearsals, suddenly become whole in the week before opening.  From establishing subtle lighting nuances and finding impossible sound effects, to creating a painted floor that looks like real hardwood, there is tremendous work done by a crew sometimes exceeding the size of the cast. 

 

Many of the directors I work with indicate casting is anywhere from 90-99% of their work, and I think they’re often just being kind having reflected above on all the cats they have to herd.  Auditions can begin 4-7 weeks before a show opens, and once a show is cast, rehearsals can run, depending on the director, anywhere from 5 nights a week for 3 ½ hours a night with “homework” to 3-4 nights a week 2 hours a night.  Despite having wanted to act in SBCT’s production of Doubt, A Parable, I believe the director, Jim Coppens, cast his show well, for the title includes the words A Parable, and the very presence of those words indicate John Patrick Shanley had more going on in the text and in his head than the tale of a priest suspected of sexual abuse in 1964. 

 

You see, the complexity of Doubt and its parable means the cast had to make choices, and Shanley does not make their decisions easy, as Shanley never makes clear for the audience whether the priest has made advances on the first African-American student to attend St. Patrick’s, or he has innocently sought to care for, protect and shelter this student from the potential prejudice of the parish and community. 

 

The cast’s choices begin subtly.  Sister Aloysius (played by Jean Plumhoff) sets the conflict in motion by establishing doubt in the innocent mind of Sister James (played by Dana Vagg), encouraging her to watch for anything untoward in the behavior of Father Flynn (played by Matthew Bell).  Yet as the play progresses, there is no text indicating with clarity who is right or who is wrong.  We don’t see Flynn alone with the boy.  Any sense of guilt or innocence comes from the actors’ performances.  There is no admission of guilt and no vindication of innocence.  Without a clear confession, how can there be certainty?  This play asks the audience to draw their own conclusions.  I will not spoil yours with mine, but I will say that my interpretation came thanks to the strength of Matthew Bell’s performance and the circumstantial evidence as presented by his initial accuser Sister James to his inquisitor Sister Aloysius.

 

Not until after the play, however, did I realize the efforts and choices these actors had to make.  For even if the audience chooses not to judge Father Flynn, Matthew Bell – the actor — must know what Father Flynn’s intentions were to the young boy, Dana Vagg – the actor — must know whether or not Sister James truly believes Father Flynn’s proclamations of innocence, and Jean Plumhoff – the actor — has the arguably the hardest choice to make, for she must know why Sister Aloysius experiences doubt in the end.  After the play, SBCT offered an opportunity they do not offer enough when they invited the audience to remain after the show to discuss the play with the cast and director.  As a result of this conversation with the cast, I reflected beyond my end of show conviction about Flynn’s guilt (or innocence) to a realization that even were I right about Flynn, Shanley’s parable is less about Flynn than it is about Sister Aloysius’ conviction that Flynn was guilty and the action she takes to remove him from the parish. 

 

John Patrick Shanley’s parable premiered off-Broadway a little over a year after the invasion of Iraq and Colin Powell’s evidence to the United Nations that Iraq clearly had weapons of mass destruction, nearly two years after President Bush spoke to the UN about Saddam Hussein’s “Decade of Deception and Defiance,” and approximately three years after Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said in his staffer snowflakes, “Go massive.  Sweep it all up.  Things related and not.” 

 

We trust those with power and authority.  We trust them to be honest.  We trust them to protect us.  Sometimes there are things they cannot tell us, but when they deceive us, they shake our faith.  Sometimes doubt can strengthen our faith as we choose to reject temptation, but sometimes doubt brings down what we previously believed to be pillars of authority:  our parents, our teachers and schools, our church and our government. 

 

Not only did South Bend Civic Theatre’s production of Doubt, A Parable open at the start of Lent, SBCT also slated it for an election year.  There’s a lot more going on behind the scenes than you might be aware from when a play is submitted to the Play Reading Committee to its closing night performance.

 But Doubt, A Parable isn’t finished.  You have one more opportunity to see this production: 

“South Bend Civic Theatre is pleased to announce the upcoming Indiana Community Theatre League Festival 2008, “Sharing the Spotlight” to take place in the Wilson Mainstage Auditorium on Saturday March 15, 2008. Six community theatres from throughout Indiana will each present a different (abbreviated) play for adjudication by two nationally renowned judges, Mary Britt and Morrie Enders. An awards ceremony and brunch will follow on Sunday March 16, 2008 in the Holiday Inn, downtown, South Bend.This will be the first year South Bend Civic Theatre will host the event in its new home at 403 N. Main St., South Bend. Past years’ competitions have garnered SBCT numerous awards including first place honors for 2007’s The Gin Game, which went on to regional competition. South Bend Civic Theatre is honored to be hosting and “sharing the spotlight” with the best community theatre Indiana has to offer.The schedule is as follows:Block I: 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Elkhart Civic Theatre, “Smoke on the Mountain”
South Bend Civic Theatre: “Doubt, a Parable”Block II: 2:30-5:00 p.m.
Community Theatre of Terre Haute: “Variations on the Death of Trotsky”
Kokomo Civic Theatre: “See Rock City”Block III: 7:30-10:00 p.m.
Muncie Civic Theatre: “This Song is Your Song”
Community Theatre Guild (Valparaiso): “Letters Home”A limited number of tickets will be available to the general public the day of the event for $10 per Block or $25 for all 6 Productions. Walk-up sales will be available March, 15 only. Check or cash only. (Sorry we cannot accept credit or debit cards for this event.) For more information please call 574-234-1112.”

  
 
 

 

 

Writer’s Craft

March 2, 2008

I love looking at great sentences and considering what makes ‘em great.  Here’re two more for this week’s class assignment: 

If, then, not this, but this.

“If you approach writing your column as I do mine, you see it as an attempt, not to hammer the other side down, but to persuade persuadable minds” (Pitts).

And an effective catalog:  “You and I have the misfortune to live in a time and media culture when people think the loudness of the argument matters more than the coherence of it, when threats and intimidation substitute for logic and reason, a time of made-up ‘facts’ and ideological ‘truth,’ a time when critical thinking is a lost art and ignorance is ascendant” (Pitts).


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